Over the course of history, the human race has made great strides towards equality for all. Compared to the way people were treated just a mere 100 years ago, we’ve certainly progressed a great deal. Women, for example, can vote, live on their own without the aid of a man, and even hold down steady jobs. So with all these rights, why is gender inequality still such a heated topic?
I think we can answer this question by looking at the ever-present stereotypes. Back in the day, women were considered to be weak and dainty. The purpose of a woman was to find a husband and start bearing children for him, while also taking care of the house and preparing the meals. For the most part, this changed as women began to join the workforce; however, they were still expected to quit working and basically become housewives after having children. Today, women aren’t expected to quit working after having children, but mothers who do work full-time are often seen as neglectful, often being called “part-time mothers” as an insult.
The wage gap is an issue that affects more than just women, it affects people of different races as well. I don’t want to delve too deeply into this topic right now, as we have a future blog on it planned out already, but I do want to point out that the statistics show that men do make at least 22% more per dollar than women do (“Pay Equity & Discrimination”). This amount definitely is not as bad as it has been in the past, but it is still shockingly high considering that men and women are supposed to be “equal.”
So what’s the big deal here? If there are statistics that are saying that women are getting paid significantly less for doing the same work as their male counterparts, why isn’t there being something done to fix it? Why isn’t this being seeing as an issue? It seems as though when things are presented as being a problem, or as a social inequality rather, the people who point out the problem receive backlash. I think back to the video we watched in class about income inequality and how President Obama was scrutinized and accused of trying to start a “wage war”. This is often a similar case for the wage gap. It seems as though when people try to highlight this as a real issue, it gets shot down because the only people who care about the wage gap are feminists- you know, the ones that don’t shave their legs. And why would we want to listen to a group of empowered women, anyway? They never get anything done. Well, except for that whole right to vote thing. And bearing children. And the women’s suffrage movement. You get the point.
So again we ask, why is this such a heated topic right now? Because, despite how far the women’s movement has come in the past 100 years, it was never really finished. We got the ability to vote, and we gained a lot of freedom that we didn’t have before, but issues such as the wage gap were ignored and brushed under the rug to be dealt at some later time.
Picture it this way; gender inequality is a race track, perfect equality between men and women being the finish line. The racers all take their starting positions and rush forward as the starting gun is shot. One racer, symbolizing here the women’s movement, starts out slow, then speeds up and starts to pass the other racers as thousands of women cheer him on in the stands. The finish line is in sight, and it looks like the racer is going to win; finally, equality for all! Yet within a few feet of the finish line, our heroic racer stops. “Well, this is probably close enough,” he says, to the audience’s horror. The thousands of the women in the stands start to yell in protest. “You’re so close!” they scream, “Keep going!” But the racer simply stands there, hands on hips, surveying the finish line and mumbling about how he did a pretty decent job considering, while the other racers start to close in behind him.
Equality is only a few feet away people; let’s make that final push and win this race.
Next time on the Gender Inequality Blog: We discuss the wage gap in more depth. And later, we talk about gender inequality in politics! Stay tuned!
Anon. n.d. “Pay Equity &Amp; Discrimination.” Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Retrieved 2015 (http://www.iwpr.org/initiatives/pay-equity-and-discrimination).
West, Johnathan. https://www.cartoonstock.com/cartoonview.asp?catref=jwe0257