Women around the world are suppressed, held back, and mistreated every day.
Take, for example, the women of Syria, who have been “targeted by snipers and used as human shields, often with their children” during the raging civil war. Still others are hauled off to prison and tortured; they are “easy targets” in a culture of female suppression.
Thousands of miles away in China, there’s young Feng Jianmei, who became yet another victim of family planning officials who—when she was unable to pay an impossibly high fine—arrested her and forcibly aborted her 7-month-old pregnancy. This is routine in China, as are “birth permit cards”—something women are forced to carry and produce to officials at any time.
Or there’s Bibi Aisha, a child bride who fled her Taliban husband and was caught, horrifically maimed, and left to die.
Consider also Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani school girl who was shot at point blank range just for breaking Taliban-imposed societal parameters on educating women.
Malala Yousufzai is moved to a helicopter to be taken to Peshawar for treatment in Mingora, Swat Valley, Pakistan on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. (Photo: AP)
Women in Saudi Arabia aren’t even allowed to drive. They live as subservient beings in a male-dominated and abusive society. In neighboring Yemen, only about 1 percent of Yemeni women are able to attend college thanks in great part to child marriages and oppressive husbands.
Indeed, women around the world are suppressed, held back, and mistreated every day.
That is REAL suppression.
And that’s not the case here. We American women are not suppressed. We are not treated as less than equal. And it’s high time we women here stop pretending like we are.
It’s time to stop pretending that because there don’t happen to be more women than men in positions of power, or positions of influence, that somehow women today live in an America where, as Hillary Clinton has put it, “the clock is turning back" on women’s issues.
In the midst of a debate over perceived disparity in wages between men and women, the cries of gender inequality grow louder every day. From the supposed “wage gap” (which doesn’t exist—and those who say it does are comparing apples to oranges), to supposed disparities in the corporate ladder, many have made this one of the civil rights issues of our day.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, holding her hand hear her face, speaks to a group of supporters and University of Miami students, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at the university in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
Indeed, opportunity was not always so readily available. Just a generation ago, women were often relegated to secretarial positions within the workforce, and were considered secondary to men in many matters. To be certain, an absence of such horrific examples as I mentioned above does not necessarily mean that a society has corrected all its gender ills.
The point, however, is simple. We do not live in an America that relegates women to second place, yet people like Clinton and other females in (ironically) powerful positions love to make it seem as they we do. Clinton goes on:
If we do not continue the campaign for women’s rights and opportunities, the world we want to live in — and the country we all love and cherish — will not be what it should be.
This, coming from the woman who most believe will be the female Democratic nominee for president in 2016.
With all due respect, what fundamental “right” or “opportunity” do women in this country not enjoy? We live in an amazingly free country; dare I say the best possible place for a girl to grow up. And yet some women talk about it like it’s some kind of archaic wasteland in which we must fight tooth and nail to make something of ourselves.
Women far outnumber men in universities, especially “among Hispanics and blacks.” More women are moving into or in the direction of corporate leadership roles than ever before. For those who tout the still-larger amount of male CEOs, consider this: many women do choose to have a family, at which point decisions are made to either leave the workforce or hold back on career advancements that might hinder that time spent with their children.
After all, recent studies show that the number of women choosing (or expressing the desire) to stay home is growing rapidly.
That’s not gender inequality. That’s not male-dominated suppression of women. That’s a choice made by a loving mother who is longing to spend time with her children.
Sadly, many women are not free to make this choice. Why? Thanks to what a fledgling economy (with dwindling wages for both genders) has foisted upon families: the absolute necessity of a two-income household. Talk about lack of choice for us gals.
From incredible feats in Olympic athleticism to traveling the world as one the U.S.’ highest ranking officials; from commanding the International Space Station to running one of the world’s top tech companies. . . there’s no glass ceiling holding our women back.
We celebrate the right of women to become just about whatever they want to be; go as far as they want to go; and speak their minds freely and on an equal platform.
But yet the same people who claim to preserve these rights excoriate women like actress Kirsten Dunst, who dared to speak her mind about preserving femininity and manhood. Indeed, she was summarily raked through the coals for suggesting that “the feminine has been a little undervalued,” that “you need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman,” and that staying home with one’s children is a “valuable thing.”
Since when did femininity and masculinity (and an affinity for the two unique and important roles) in a loving and mutually respectful relationship become an affront to women’s rights? Since when did the choice to stay home with one’s children become such a prison sentence?
Sargent Sheena Adams, 25, Hospital Corpsman Shannon Crowley, 22, and Lance Corporal Kristi Baker, 21, US Marines with the FET (Female Engagement Team) 1st Battalion 8th Marines, Regimental Combat team II pose at their forward operating base on November 17, 2010 in Musa Qala, Afghanistan. (Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
What kind of woman is it exactly that we’re to celebrate, then? The shrill feminists who scorn men and the role of the mother; those who want to ban dolls and the color pink; those who want to wallow in a pretend wasteland of inequality . . . screaming “unfairness” with every rung of the corporate, political, and social ladder they climb?
What if we celebrate womanhood’s greatness—whether it’s manifested in the home or in the office—without incessantly trying to claim that through it all, our society is holding us down?
There’ll always be “old boys’ clubs” (I know—I’ve seen them) and chauvinists. This reality doesn’t give us girls carte blanche to claim that we’ve got a gender equality problem in a nation that’s home to some of the richest, most successful, most influential women in the world; a nation that lays down the red carpet of opportunity to any female who wants to walk it.
There are plenty of places where women and girls see their opportunities, their hopes— even their very lives –suppressed every day. Let’s stop pretending that we’re one of them.
Mary Ramirez is a full time writer, and creator of www.afuturefree.com--a political commentary blog. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree
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