“Experiencing Inequalities in my Life by Justine Smith
Gender inequality shows that women and men are not equal. Gender inequalities affects a persons living situation. Inequalities’ come from differences in cultural norms, psychology, biology, etc. Some inequalities are empirically constructed while others seem to be socially created. I will attempt to describe the gender inequalities in my life and those around me; as well the historical, political, and economics of gender inequalities in the U.S. from a female’s perspective. I will explain why they exist, what causes them, and how they affect a person individually. I will even show how gender inequalities exist in other countries. Inequalities can affect an individual’s health in very harmful ways. Gender is constructed, but also deconstructed. I will explain Chafetz’s Sex Stratification Theory and Roth’s (2004) Study. Will Gender inequalities always be around?
I personally haven’t faced many inequalities in my life, except racism. But I’ve witnessed many minorities deal with several inequalities. My mother is Hispanic, and my father is African American. They had my brother and me at a very young age; they were still in high school. Because of this, my mom had to drop out, but my father stayed in school. My mother stayed home to take care of us and my dad had to work multiple jobs. I see gender, race, and social class/ status inequality in their situation. I say this because they are both minorities, so of course it was very hard for them to find good paying jobs. Racism was very popular. Then my mom had to change her lifestyle because she had kids, while my dad got to continue his. This is still the case for most people. And neither of them grew up with handouts. I’m grateful they’ve helped me make it this far. I’m a first generation college student. To me inequalities are basically stereotypes. And stereotypes will always be around. I chose to write about gender inequalities because I am a female myself and it breaks my heart to see so many women fighting to earn respect given to men for no cost at all. I always wondered why girls get bashed for doing the same things that men get praised for. We are even judged as children. But I soon had to realize that we just live in a double standard world. I’m a little relieved that the world is starting to evolve, but then again who knows what the future will bring.
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The political, history, and economics of women in the U.S.:
We are in a time where more and more women are holding office. And I honestly cannot wait to see the day we have our first female president, maybe even a minority at that. Our country has come a long way. Women didn’t even have the right to vote until the 19th Amendment of the Constitution. Gender stereotypes about female politicians, voters, etc. still exist. The reason being because politicians expect men to perform better than women (Lumen Learning).
In the 19th and 20th century women were involved in the economy, but they also had challenging lives. They were told to be great mothers and wives as if that was all they were good for. They worked in running businesses, gardening, weaving, and raising stock. They made valuable contributions to the economy, but were never given the same rights as men. Wife beating was very common during the time. And men often disrespected women by either ignoring them or talking over them. In the 1800s women ran strikes to protest long work hours, fast work pace, and reduced wages. For example, maids underwent physical abuse, had no protection, low pay, and long work hours. Not to mention they are the most exploited workers out there. Women even have to deal with sexual harassment on the job.
The globalization of gender inequality shows that women are below men in jobs and money. And usually single mother households are poor. Women have always been at a disadvantage when it coming to earnings and income compared to men. The highest paying jobs are still occupied by men. Based on statistics, women only earn about 75% of what men earn for the same exact amount of work. If this rate keeps going, it could take at least 45 full years before we will ever see gender equality.
Most people think that women are the ones responsible for cooking, cleaning, shopping, and taking care of the children/ elder. If a child is sick, it’s more than likely the mom will miss work rather than the dad. Women actually receive less healthcare than men do (Sen, 470). Structural explanations say that gender differences don’t come from the same resources to which women and men have access, or the different social locations that they inhabit. For example, “a structural approach might explain women’s disproportionate share of housework as a function of their husbands’ incomes: Men do less housework because their greater incomes give them the power to opt out of it (Deutsch, 108).”
Men often hold superior positions when it comes to jobs. I believe the reason for this is the physical strength and danger that comes with those jobs. Some men think that letting women into certain fields will affect their wages. Women act feminine because their job positions require that type of behavior. And men act masculine because their job positions require strength, leadership, competence, etc. (Deutsch, 114). In 2009, only 5% of women held masculine occupations. That percentage has changed drastically today. Not only is it difficult for women to get promotions, it’s hard to maintain many job positions when there are a variety of gender-related issues. Women are often only hired for ‘gender logic’ positions, like jobs that require nurturing (Hurst, 121). The Roth’s study (2004) showed the many problems women faced when dealing with male-dominate jobs (Hurst, 119). Many of those women were likely to quit their jobs because of worker discrimination or family issues. Women aren’t given the same leeway as men.
The social capital of men and women are different. This is because women obtain information about jobs from other women (Hurst, 121). Men hold prestigious leadership positions and only share that information with other men; without women being able to get that same information, they lack the knowledge for high-level positions. Token women who do have executive jobs feel under pressure and the need to be tough when allowing other women to be promoted, to show that they know how to make difficult decisions (Hurst, 120). A woman’s viewpoint of herself is what affects the wage gap (Hurst, 125). We often sell ourselves short. We’re sometimes afraid to speak up because we already know the outcome. But, what I do love about women is that we always stick together. A woman is likely to help out before a man will.
Micro inequalities like sex, race, and age appear everywhere daily when it comes to education, language, communication, and the media (Hurst, 126). Sexism goes unnoticed because many people are unaware of it. For instance, why do people often think that teachers are women, while men are mechanics (Hurst, 126)? I’ve seen more and more women being able to become police officers, firefighters, mechanics, welders, etc.
Sex inequality consisted of 4 categories: Capitalism/ patriarchal, ecological, social-structural, and cultural (Hurst, 129). Cultures expect different behaviors from different genders, which is wrong. I believe we are all from the same human race, so what makes one superior than the other. And patriarchy shows the ‘interrelationships’ of how men dominate women (Hurst, 138).
Chafetz’s Theory (Sex Stratification) argued that there will never be a time where women will dominate men (Hurst, 131). She relied on the philosophies and data of anthropologists who created theories’ about gender inequality. The theory approach implied that gender is constructed, but can also be deconstructed (Deutsch, 108). The sad part is that I agree with her. Women have been degraded for so many years that they are used to it. We may all have the same 24 hours in a day, but we don’t all have the same resources. Why continue to keep fighting for inequality when it still hasn’t changed after all these years.
Gender inequalities around the world (“10 Examples”):
Lack of Mobility: In Saudi Arabia, women are unable to drive because they are not allowed to. In order to travel, they must count on the males in the family. In Bahrain and Egypt, women can be stopped by their husbands if they are trying to leave the country. And in other countries a permission slip is required from the husband for the wife to travel.
Freedom of marriage: In Saharan, Africa, and South Asia women are usually married by the age 18. Being married as a child increases birth complications (often fatal). It also violates the human rights law on the choice of partnership. In Pakistan, women have to accept marriage proposals; and if they refuse, honor killings will happen, which often go undisputed by the government (Hurst, 142).
Divorce Rights (Discriminatory): In the Middle East, they exercise religious ethics and gender inequalities are extensive (insidious). Men are always seen as superior. They have the right to divorce their wives effortlessly. But, if women do this, they face major consequences. In Lebanon, if a woman is being abused, they don’t have the right to divorce their husbands without there being a witness.
Citizenship: In the Middle East, men can pass citizenship onto their children and spouses, while women cannot.
Army: In Turkey, Slovakia, and the U.K., women cannot participate in frontline combat.
Custody Rights: In Bahrain, there are no family laws arranged. This allows judges to deny the custody of children to their mothers. And in other countries, courts give custody to the father, leaving women with no financial help.
Violence: Women are vulnerable to violence since there are so many unequal rights that are legal. For instance, spousal rape. India’s rape laws don’t apply to married couples.
Land Ownership: In other countries, laws forbid women from owning land. In Lesotho, Tanzania, and North Sudan land is almost always owned by males. In Zambia, women need their husband’s approval to be allocated.
Education: Women make up 2/3 of illiterate adults in the world. In Afghanistan, groups that are against female education attack schools.
Sex-selective Abortion: In East Asia, South Asia, Caucasus, and Western Balkans female fetuses are usually aborted because male children are valued more.
I don’t fully understand the reasoning behind gender inequalities. It can be the littlest thing. For instance, why must a girl have to cover her shoulders and legs when out in public? Cruelty against women vary all around the world. Women deal with all kinds of serious matters like female circumcision and sex trafficking. Women are often judged and told that they cannot do something based off their gender and not their ability. Gender inequality is not just one phenomenon, but it’s a collection of multiple disparate problems (Sen, 466). With this being my senior year as an undergrad, I refuse to let these inequalities stop me from achieving the success I deserve. I work just as hard as any man, if not harder. I don’t need people to take it easy on me just because I am a girl. Looking back at my parents’ situation, I strive to be and do better than them. I know it’s what they’d want. Where’s the peace; the world would be better off without inequalities because they are bad for growth. “Inequality affects how you perceive those around you and your level of happiness. People in less equal societies are less likely to trust each other and less likely to engage in social participation. Living in an unequal society causes stress and anxiety, which may damage your health. In more equal society’s people live longer, and are less likely to be mentally ill or obese (“Impacts”).”
- “10 Examples of Gender Inequality in the World.” BORGEN, 30 Nov. 2017, www.borgenmagazine.com/10-examples-gender-inequality-world/.
- Deutsch, Francine M. “”Undoing gender.”” Gender & society 21.1 (2007): 106-127.
- Hurst, Charles E., Heather M. Fitz Gibbon, and Anne M. Nurse. Social inequality: Forms, causes, and consequences. Routledge, 2016.
- “Impacts.” The Equality Trust, www.equalitytrust.org.uk/about-inequality/impacts.
- Learning, Lumen. “Introduction to Sociology.” Lumen, courses.lumenlearning.com/cochise-sociology-os/chapter/gender-inequality-in-politics/.
- Sen, Amartya. “”The many faces of gender inequality.”” New republic (2001): 35-39.”