Gender Equality In America
The oppression of women has proved to be an issue since the United States declared its independence from Great Britain and continues be. The Constitution itself declares that all men, not women are equal. Equal rights for women is a centuries long battle that needs to be won. Although men and women are biologically different, they are equal as humans and should be treated as such. Men and women are equally important, each adding different, valuable aspects to American society.
Women’s suffrage has been a controversial topic, but it should not be. Women deserve contribute much to society and deserve equal rights, but they have been wrongly oppressed in all aspects of life including the workplace, the home, and in government. America’s founding fathers scoffed at the thought of Constitutional rights for women. Only two centuries ago, was it that the voices of the oppressed began to be heard by those who had power to make a change. Tamar Rothenberg writes that The 15th Amendment, ratified in 1869, said that race was no bar to voting, but made no mention of sex. Women would have to wait until the next century (Rothenburg par 21). It was not until the the early 18th century however, that American women loudly demanded that they be given the same rights as men. Elisabeth J. Friedman writes that all of these, …campaigns were conceived of women (Friedman par 4).
Nearly all of these protests for women’s suffrage were organized, performed, and supported by women and it was not until August 18th 1920, that women even had the legal right to vote. Even today women are battling for their rights. In 1914 women began to work in factories out of necessity during World War 1. Ivette Romero-Cesareo writes that, women were able to get away from their homes and participate in activities other than domestic work and childbearing (Romero-Cesareo par 2). As men and women began to work alongside one another, it became clear that having the same job did not make them equal. After over 100 years of participation in the workforce, women are still not viewed as equal to men or paid fairly. Today, the woman on average makes only 80 percent of the man’s dollar for the same job. The role of women in society is still controversial. Many believe that it is a woman’s duty to assume the role of the homemaker. In the short story The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman writes, that I am absolutely forbidden to work until I am well again (Gilman par 3). Work is often viewed as a burden on women and it is agreed by many that women should not work unless financially necessary. Women that choose to pursue a career rather than have children are looked down upon as selfish.
However women add a new perspective that is needed in the workforce.Often women’s value to society and to the workforce are often undermined unless it concerns there responsibility in the home. Friedman writes that, women’s citizenship has often been restricted in ways that reflect societal assumptions about their duties as homemakers, specifically as mothers (Friedman par 4). Women by nature add different perspectives, ideas and opinions to society and the workplace. Throughout history women have brought about change that would not have been possible by the minds of men alone. This is made clear in the short story Trifles, by Susan Glaspell as she writes, Mrs. Peters, and keep an eye out for anything that might be of use to us (Glaspell p 3). In this story the two women are able to pick out abnormalities around the crime scene that the men would not have been able to because of their experience as women. Women have much to contribute to society, and when given the opportunity have proven this to be true.
In 2018, almost a century after women have been given the right to vote, they are still fighting for equal rights. It has become obvious that there is a lack of female representation in government and in politics. There is less than 20 percent of women represented in Congress, and the United States ranks 98th in the world for female representation in government. Without women representing women in government it may be impossible to make the changes that need to be made. Women need female representation and t this is the only way that their voices can be truly heard. Friedman states that women need to be more active in politics as they offer a distinctively female perspective on social change. Women want equal pay, and the right to make decisions concerning their bodies, however these decisions have been and continue to be made by men. Rothenburg states that today, the struggle to improve the position of women in society continues. And, more people are recognizing that history is only half told without women’s side of the story (Rothenburg par 36). History cannot be rewritten, but the course of the future can be changed as women take part in the making of it.
Women have undoubtedly endured a long history of oppression in American society. Throughout history, gender roles and stereotypes have condemned females to lifetimes of childbearing and homemaking. Not even a century ago, women were granted the right to vote in America. And still, women are not completely equal to men. Women in the workforce still receive unequal pay and are often frowned upon by society for not pursuing their duties as mothers. However, women need to be empowered and given the opportunity by society to progress and help change the world. Men and women should view each other as partners in society who are both working towards the betterment of it. Equal rights are a crucial aspect of achieving changes necessary to the improvement of this nation. Female empowerment and equal rights will change this country for the better.
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