By Nesta Lu
Summer Youth Leadership Program
In 1792, Mary Wollenscroft(1759-1797) wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women and composed one of her famous quotes: “I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.” Wollenscroft was one of the first and foremost famous feminists who saw the limited rights women had and began to advocate for rights. Wollenscroft’s quote addresses the conflict of injustice women witness and the need for a more superior power for themselves. Even though feminism has existed for over two centuries, the idea of equity for women is not thoroughly fulfilled today, which is an immense conflict for women throughout the world.
Over time, people pick up negative connotations about women because men, and sometimes women themselves, depict females as helpless or weak. Women, on average, typically earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men when both men and women have the same occupation. The gender wage gap illustrates a discriminatory action where women are paid less than what men do, even if they have the same job. Not only are there wage gaps, but the availability for women to work in a high-paying job is limited because people believe they are incapable of competing in that work environment. In occupations that involve high-tech fields, U.S. women working in science, engineering, and technology were 45 percent more likely than their male peers to leave the industry within the year because of gender bias. Human trafficking and sex slavery are another problem women face. A majority of human trafficking involves women and young girls used for slavery or sex labor. This process of enslaving these women and young girls are an example of dehumanizing and degrading females because their identity is taken away and the only aspect of their identity remaining is their gender. And unfortunately, women are considered an easier target to control and abuse. Approximately 3,287 people are sold or kidnapped and forced into slavery each day, making $32 billion in profits every year worldwide. Out of 20.9 million adults and children brought into human trafficking, 98 percent of them are women and young girls.
Misogyny is repeated in many lyrics of many songs, where women are often shown as “H—s” or “B—es” to indicate that women are their piece of object they use for sexual purposes only. Rappers such as Kanye West, Jay-Z, Danny Brown, and many other artists receive an extensive amount of money for songs they sell with misogynistic lyrics. Lyrics like these aren’t helping achieve feminist goals of gender equality because artists who are famous, successful, and wealthy make it seem exceptional for them to use derogatory language toward women because of their iconic selves.
Fortunately, feminists have taken a rise to these standards of living under gender inequality. Acknowledging the gender wage gap, President Barack Obama signed two executive orders: one prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against employees who share their salary information with each other, and the other order instructs the Department of Labor to create new regulations requiring contractors to report wage-related data to the government to hold them more accountable on salary differences based on gender or race. Obama signed these orders on April 8th, 2014, “Equal Pay Day” in order to ameliorate the gender wage gap.
Hopefully, feminist ideals will appeal to everyone so that discrimination and inequality between both genders are diminished. (end)