”With so many instances of men treating us like inferior creatures, it’s a topic you’d be hard-pressed to overlook. From the acceptance of Chris Brown after beating a pop starlet, to men in the government attempting to determine what’s best for our bodies, woman-bashing is all over the news. I hate the way this makes me feel — about our society, about our future, about myself. And because I take issue with all this instead of letting it slide, I’m known by banal monikers. Bitch. Feminazi. Man-Hater.
I harbor similar sentiments about sexism as I do for racism. I don’t blame the men of today for the sins of their forefathers; to do so would be unfair and depriving modern men basic equality from birth. No, I blame them for perpetuating a system of subjugation largely because it works in their favor. In the same vein that the rich largely support tax laws that while ensuring inequality ensure the rich stay rich, modern men don’t shun the patriarchal system because it benefits them. And when something benefits you, are you really likely to preach against it? You can’t blame someone for looking out for their own self interest.
Or can you? Perhaps this self-serving nature is the root of what’s wrong with the world. Comfort and convenience, though not the harbingers of intellectual challenge and fulfillment, are often the main priority in our modern world, and the current system secures that for men. Like the civil war, the sexist war is one that can only be altered by a paradigm shift in the hearts of those in power. Only ideology and morality can sway the recipients of status to change their ways. I’m not saying all men are power-hungry, money-grubbing complacent chauvinists; I’m saying that inaction makes them just as guilty as the perpetrators. Just because you close your eyes doesn’t make the problem go away. And believe you me, there is a problem.
Firstly, women still don’t earn as much as men. Estimates vary but the general consensus is that women get paid anywhere from 70 cents to 87 cents for every dollar a man makes. Part of this is due to lack of women in higher-paying fields, but that in itself is because these fields are male-dominated and difficult for women to penetrate. Studies have shown that men who undergo sex changes end up being paid less as a woman than they did as male. This leads me to think it’s mainly perception that drives this gap. And think about it: the US has yet to have a female president. Props to us for escaping the dark ages and electing (gasp) an African-American president, but we’ve got a long way to go. Currently there are 20 countries/territories with female leaders. Not a one of them has proposed a tax break on tampons or passed legislation requiring all male rapists to be castrated. Sure, females in power can be puppets in the hands of their eager husbands but politicians can be puerile marionettes of their parties, too. I have the opportunity to work for some brilliant, competitive, savvy women who still manage to be compassionate and treat everyone with respect regardless of gender. I believe we can all do this, male and female.”
—By Lauren Osborn, Vagina Prose+Poetry Editor
*This piece originally appeared in full in Vagina’s Spring 2012 issue, available for purchase here
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