- Women are blamed for being raped.
Every six seconds a woman is molested and raped, even with anti-rape laws and strict enforcement of punishment for rape worldwide. The act of victim-blaming women happens more often than you think. We often blame the substance (i.e. alcohol) if it’s a man who rapes a woman and will more than likely hear things like “he is an all-star swimmer” with a follow-up slap-on-the-wrist three-month sentence. Other things you may hear are “he would never do such a thing” and more often, you’ll see blame shifted to the victim and a laundry list of her actions to include what she was wearing and how she was acting.
But why is it that when a woman gets raped anywhere in the world, religious clerics declare that it was her provocative dress and not the rapist’s fault? To counteract this prejudice, we need a common ground for women in the form of feminism, to derail pointless arguments that blame the victim and not the rapist. When you give it enough thought, it’s easy to see that this isn’t a mere scream for radicalism, but a call for justice.
- Some women still believe marriage should be their ultimate life goal.
We’ve been taught from an early age that there are princes who will sweep us off our feet. Even when we were smart enough to understand majestic castles and that knight in shining armor are few and far between, we still had fables that stimulated a desire to be rescued in some way. As if young girls couldn’t grow up to be their own knight but secondary to a husband or breadwinner. Conditioning takes many forms, and one form is by way of cartoons.
Disney movies will show you that a prince will slay dragons, witches, and fight soldiers to win your heart and save you. This aggressive, macho, and male-dominated stereotype is another way manipulation and oppression played heavily in Disney movies. You do not need a man to be happy, nor do you need one to save you from your bills and other humanistic fumbles.
- We measure a woman’s worth based on looks before merit.
When a woman is in power, it’s intimidating. A man’s first instinct is to attack the way she is dressed or how her feminine qualities cloud her judgment. This is with the assumption that male characteristics are more fitting for dominant or powerful roles. When we think of women in power positions, she’s labeled based on her physical appearance and not her merit. Even if a woman shares the same amount of schooling, work experience, and accolades (if not more) with her male counterpart, a woman will still be seen as the subordinate party.
Sometimes the oppression runs so deep that it’s hard to keep track of each and every time we idiotically judge a woman by solely her looks. It could have zero to do with their skill or work ethic, but because she’s wearing something that makes her feel empowered, she’s attacked. The Internet makes it so easy for cyber bullies, women included, to attack someone and call it freedom of speech by which they wouldn’t dare express in person.
- Domestic violence cases aren’t taken seriously.
We see a lot of cases where women are being punished for their beating. As terrible as it sounds, it’s a serious issue that many women have to face forcing us to wonder who we, as women, can depend on. If women can’t call the police to tell them about domestic violence attacks, who do we turn to? We also see the brunt of cyber misogyny on mediums like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram where you won’t be able to understand how they were able to stomach writing things like “she shouldn’t have been a bitch” or “she got what was coming.” We also take cases where the woman goes back to the man without ever thinking about why and what kind of trauma domestic violence can cause the victim. Be it mental or physical. We just say things like “all she has to do is leave him”.
Additionally, when a domestic violence incident occurs, the police asks the abuser, “What did she say to offend you?” and asking the woman, “Why did he abuse you?” The fact that the police are biased when it comes to domestic violence cases shows that our society needs a major change systemically.
- Women still get only a fraction of what men make.
Women make way less than a man even today, in 2016. To whoever says this is false, do the math…it’s easy. Women are told to be grateful when they get an opportunity to be taken seriously in a managerial or less-clerical role. There are countless openings for women to work in the job market today, but the opportunities are scarce due even when their degrees are neck and neck.
Women work just as hard, but there is still a pay disparity that we ignore. This prejudice and lack of belief in a woman’s ability is something that should be eliminated from society but it continues even in 2016.
- We hyper-sexualize and objectify women.
If you’ve ever turned on the television or watched a music video, you’ll notice this. As soon as a woman hits the stage of any arena, she’s automatically subject to criticism and sexism from both men and women. Think about the last time you watched something. It doesn’t matter if it was with real people or cartoons, the woman is constantly objectified in the media making it very difficult for a woman to be taken seriously in a role.
We see this in something as simple as video games and the industry overall. Yeah, we know the quintessential bikini-clad pixie is thrown in our favorite console and PC games religiously but there is an underlining issue that is within the gamer community, and this has been another way for men to keep women out. Women are being antagonized for moving up the gaming ladder for even being part of this digital platform from a misogynist nudge to death threats – if you’re not convinced, read the case of Zoe Quinn.
There are questions about the existence of hidden agendas by male gaming elites to keep women oppressed and exposed through digital landscapes and how women are receiving threats. While certain games continue pulverizing women with such threats, nothing is being done to eliminate the contribution to this oppression.
- We assume women have a maternal desire.
We get this a lot. Even from family. “When are you going to have a baby?”. This even happened to me personally when I wasn’t married yet – but of age. It’s a challenge to combat the maternal desire stereotype especially when it comes from your blood. Don’t people realize that not everyone wants to be a mom? I can name a few people who have legitimately felt pressured to conform by which they rushed a marriage and kids and now can’t do anything but attest to the fact that they weren’t ready mentally or emotionally but by physical measure, they felt they were not only ready, but it was their purpose.
- Slut-Shaming, Player-Praising complex.
You see this a lot in school. A girl gets shit for sleeping with guys, but the guy will be called the big man on campus or player, as they used to call it, for getting the date and having the juiciest story to tell. What’s so vexing is that men continue to be praised in their adulthood for fucking the most beautiful women by man-standards. Women are expected to be pure, passive and naive when it comes to their body. Men will even go as far as to tell a woman how she needs to look to gain the attention from other men.
- The obsession with virginity.
We groom young women to believe that their virginity is precious but not only that – we groom them to believe that their sole purpose on earth is to conserve their sexual desires for one man and one man only. If someone takes it, she is either taunted for not having kept herself pure or she beats herself up, and left feeling nothing at all.
A sexual phenomenon that thrives in society today is how we restrict our children, particularly girls, from being exposed to any sex-related material with the belief that children do not need to know about something that isn’t accepted for their age group. This has been embedded in our society as a cyclical norm. Society is what makes sex-related materials taboo for children to interact with. We view our young girls as pure, untouched, and delicate. The idea that pre-marital sex is a result of bad decision-making weaves through this belief.
It’s natural for parents to feel they need to shy away from introducing sex as a topic to their young girls because adults have a tendency of perverting sex instead of viewing it as a common and natural human practice.
- Gender-bias Beauty standards.
Women are parted from their agency to be an aesthetic piece whereas men still have their agency intact when being the “model” for a product or service we see in pop culture. Things like periods or acne that both girls and boys experience, girls will receive more cultural attention which is why young girls are 3 times more likely to try and take care of it before it’s too visible. America is constantly designing products and packaging to attract the contemporary female consumer. It’s working.
- 51 million girls are forced into marriage before the age of consent.
Women are married forcefully in rural areas of America and in other countries without their consent. Families are pawning women off for the sake of enriching their resources and survival. The same goes for forced prostitution of girls even when they’re extremely young. Often, if they try to escape, they are raped or beaten. Since children appear to be weak and unaware their human rights, they’re easier to target. This is why the industry focuses on the young and make breaking out of their debt within the industry, difficult to escape.
Parents are willing to give up their children for economical means but much like many other things dealing with consumerism and economical situations, there is an emotional aspect that we suppress as adults for our children and disregard altogether. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) is available 24 hours a day on their toll-free hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
- In the developing world, 2/3rds of illiterate people are women.
Many women across the world have to miss out on school because they are “needed” as caregivers in their household, and this is troublesome for those women as a whole as this has an indirect effect on those women seeking higher education – causing discouragement or a loss of hope in the idea of equality as a whole. On the subject of schooling, we still see girls around the world are unable to even to go to school while on their menstrual period due to a shortage of what many American women see as essential supplies. Oppression is systemic and when we are blind to even the slightest of sexist remarks, we deny ourselves the well-deserved right to be equal.
Words: Lakecia Hammond
Illustrations: Georgia Haire