It seems like such an obvious notion, doesn’t it? (I guess not to everyone.) And yet women are STILL not equal to men. In so many ways: relationships, the workplace, etc. It blows my mind that it’s 2013 and women still get paid less than men to perform the same jobs.
Many factors influenced my belief, but I suppose it began with my family. I have a very stern and tough Army father and a tiny adorable mom. Upon meeting them, you would assume that my dad runs the show and my mom just stands by and watches. But actually, my mom is a very successful accountant and also happens to be the one of the smartest and most stubborn women you’ll ever meet. She is the person in charge of our finances and has the final say on a lot of the big decisions in our family. In fact, my dad gets an “allowance” that he is allowed to spend every month depending on how much my mom feels is appropriate. Growing up with a strong, working mom showed me that any subordinate roles women are stuck in are constructed by society, not by an inherent inability of the gender. And watching the way my dad treated my mom showed me that being a good wife does not mean submitting to your husband—it means having a relationship of checks and balances where each partner respects, learns from, and grows with the other. Being a good wife is the same thing as being a good husband.
As a young student, learning about slavery and civil rights shocked me. How could people be discriminated against because of their skin color? Clearly, you cannot make the claim that the subordination of women today is even close to the injustice that whites committed against blacks. But there is a common thread to the fact that just as it is not right to discriminate according to race, it not right to discriminate according to gender.
It’s worth noting that I have also been influenced by the voices in the media and government that have spoken out against the subordination of women–movements like Lean In, the passing of Equal Pay Acts, etc.
To address the influences that might make people feel that women should be below men: many religions support this notion. Many people feel that the husband is in charge of the household and that it is a woman’s duty to submit to him as the wife. Also, people may have grown up with a traditional family where the mom stayed home and her sole purpose was to take care of the house and children. If they had a positive experience with this, they might think that the ideal place for a woman is in the home, not at work. They might think kids won’t grow up the best way if they don’t have a mom at home all of the time.
People see commercials for Jif where the mom is making peanut butter sandwiches for her children and subconsciously assume that it is always the woman’s job to do work of that sort (seriously though, why are there never dads in those commercials?). Movies always portray women as a sexual object or the docile counterpart to the male hero.
It can also be used as a power device. A male might try to keep a woman oppressed in order to eliminate competition in the workplace or to keep the power in a relationship or household.
I have a guy friend who once told me he wants to marry a girl that will cook and clean for him; that he thinks the woman belongs in the home. He thinks that nature suggests that it is the woman’s job to take care of the children, because the woman gives birth to the child.
If I’m not mistaken, it takes TWO to conceive a child, so both people should have equal responsibility to go to work, provide for the family, and take care of the kids. Enough with the excuses! Women should be entirely able to make the same decisions and achieve the same goals as men do these days.