Student: Women Still Struggle for Equality

Photo courtesy of AIGA

While women are still fighting for equal pay and breaking out of sexist gender constructs, the right to be seen as human is not entirely in a woman’s possession. Men have male privilege and the right to live up to male stereotypes such as being loud, assertive, messy, lazy, etc. while women are forced to hold back in more ways than one in all of these categories in fear of being ostracized. 

Women are often pressured into being on a spectrum of both femininity and masculinity, even if those ideals contradict themselves. A woman must be sweet, but assertive. She must be selfless, but selfish to be successful. She must be able to bake a cake, and be able to discuss social issues like a CNN correspondent. The unrealistic standards for women today go beyond the roles that trickle down from the 1950s.

These unattainable standards are meant to be upheld in women’s work and ultimately define a woman’s worth majority of the time.

Women are also exploited for their beauty by unattainable Western beauty ideals. In some social circles, the women seen as the most physically appealing are often thought of as unintelligent. Before even uttering a single word, a woman’s whole being is judged — so she must then work to prove her self-worth in places of employment and social and professional spheres.

Is this epidemic self-inflicted? Should women give up beauty enhancers that men claim to hate but fall for?

It is interesting that men are praised for proving their humanity, when women are made to seem robotic by social standards. Men can burp, fart and yell obscenities at sporting events, but if a woman partakes in those practices it is seen as absurd — unless she is doing those things with a man, or following his lead.

TV shows, movies and covert celebrity nip and tucks set the tone for the objectification of women. A man looks to the media for what he wants in a woman almost as if he is ordering a burger off a menu.

With all the different ideals that we are meant to fulfill, women are left to do a balancing act.

There is also such a negative connotation with being single in today’s world that women who do not have a partner – a male partner – often ask themselves, “What’s wrong with me?” Social standards tell women that they will be seen as different, even odd, if they are not hitched early in their young adult lives. This is such a common misconception that women will begin to “fix” themselves, when there was not anything wrong in the first place.

Looking at the media for five minutes will show you flashes of happy, beautiful people with unachievable bodies; sometimes it may seem that they are somehow better, happier than you. Little girls grow up watching and aiming to become the Kardashians instead of being educated about women’s rights pioneers. Learning all the right selfie angles trumps learning how to make a difference in the world.

The remedy that seems like it has all the answers is inherently the disease, too. 

Women are not fighting to be superiors over men; we just want to be free from stigma and unapologetic in our evolution. Women cannot only exist in the context of men; there has to be a separate narrative. Human rights are God-given and should not be held for ransom until a person conforms to society’s unachievable measures. The fight continues for women to be seen as equal to men – to be seen as human.