Have We Reached Gender Equality?

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By Melanie Spina
Co-Opinions Editor

As we find ourselves currently surrounded by political talk in this presidential election year, I can’t help but think that there are still people out there who are afraid of using the term “feminism” or who don’t believe that there still is such thing as gender inequality. Although a lot has changed from the past, starting with women being able to vote and holding top leadership positions in government and business, we still are searching for the equal treatment we deserve.

Marisa Kofmehl, a senior public relations major, channels her inner Rosie the Riveter. Photo: Melanie Spina
Marisa Kofmehl, a senior public relations major, channels her inner Rosie the Riveter.
Photo: Melanie Spina

Some opponents to feminism believe that the goal was already achieved with the feminization of the workforce. They see modern feminists as man-haters who are just looking to benefit their own sex. In fact, many women find themselves afraid to say they are feminists because of the misconception that is tied into this term. Supporters of feminism, though, believe that this movement is all about, not only social, but also economic equality of sexes.

I think it’s important to understand that feminism does not mean hatred towards men; this is a misconception that should be cleared up. In 2014, actress and Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Women, Emma Watson, gave a speech for the HeForShe campaign in which she spoke about this misconception. Watson acknowledged that many women don’t want to be associated with this word because it is viewed as not only aggressive and anti-men, but also unattractive.

In her speech, Watson stated what the modern feminist movement is looking for. “I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts; I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body; I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decisions that will affect my life; I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men.”

We are constantly seeing gender stereotypes, where the woman is sensitive and fragile and the man is strong and emotionless. Watson addressed how men are affected by this just as much as women are. Most young boys must keep this stereotypical view of masculinity and not break the status quo. However, there have been some changes and a lot of women and men now understand what the word feminism actually means. Some politicians, including President Obama, claim to be feminists.

So much more can be done today. Women and men can both break down gender stereotypes and be able to be who they actually are without being afraid of seeming too masculine or too feminine. Men won’t have to worry about keeping their emotions bottled up for fear or seeming less masculine, and women will be able to be seen as equals to men.

I am quite glad that we are starting to see this change by having female leaders and CEOs. Senior public relations major, Marisa Kofmehl, thinks that it’s great that women are taking on these powerful positions, for the sake of coming generations. “I think the most important [reason] is that it would open a lot of doors for young girls. They would see that they don’t have these barriers set in place by gender stereotypes,” Kofmehl said.

Yet, despite these advances, according to the American Association of University Women, an organization that empowers women, the pay gap in the U.S. hasn’t shifted in a decade. A woman with the same amount of preparation and education—sometimes even more than a man—gets paid 22 percent less, which proves gender inequality still lingers in our modern society.

I do not believe that we have achieved gender equality in 2016. Although we must follow in the footsteps of the suffragist movement, I still believe we have a long way to go to reach a society where there is no gender inequality. Getting rid of the pay gaps between women and men could be a first step; two people who are equally qualified to do a job should be paid the same no matter what gender they are.

Women and men are different, yes, but that doesn’t make one more important than the other. Both sexes should be seen as equals, and I believe one day this will happen. I do believe it’s important to point out that feminism isn’t about women only; men should be included in this movement too. Equality involves all of us and people shouldn’t be afraid of wanting this in their society.

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