I’ve always wondered how women still struggle to assert their desired place and authority in society when all stereotypical cornerstones of an oppressed group are missing. I kept asking questions like: Why does the wage gap still exist? Why do women still have to fight their way through stereotypical male professions? Why are women’s sex lives judged on a harsher scale than men?
While I will admit, not all of these are true in every circumstance, there is still an undeniable trend.
Let's take a moment and reflect on historically oppressed groups in society. They generally all have a few things in common. They are segregated due to their race, skin tone, religion, geographical location, social class, culture, sexual preference, or customs. These groups are generally a minority and smaller in numbers than the opposing population.
Take a closer look; do any of those stereotypical reasons for oppression apply to all women? Or better yet, do any of those even apply to the majority of women? The answer is no. Women actually compose over half of the world’s population. They comprise every race, religion, social class, geographical location, and even various sexual preferences. So why on earth is equality even still a question? Why are women the most consistently oppressed group throughout history?
That’s where the problem lies; there is no one characteristic or circumstance that unifies them. This is a classic necessity of social change and revolutions in general. Rousseau often explains in his works that one common enemy can unify any group. The problem is, what is the enemy? Because right now in America, maybe it’s the wage gap, but in parts of the Middle East they are still fighting for equal education. Feminism has no common enemy across the globe, because every social class, race, culture, and religion presents vastly different obstacles.
Until all women pay attention to and fight for the rights of every group, culture, and race of women collectively, gender inequality will remain unmoved.
Another misconception that should be thrown out is the thought that women’s rights have been nothing but a positive slope. The truth is history has a way of sweeping times in which women’s rights were retrogressive under the rug.
Take ancient Rome, for example. Women were allowed to be the sole land owners of an estate until a problem was recognized with male inheritance within the society. Roman leaders began to realize that an increase in male homosexual relationships within the Roman Empire would soon lead to their demise, because no heir or inheritor was being produced out of these relationships. Ultimately the leaders settled on taking away women’s rights such as the ability to own land without a husband. Laws like this were aimed at forcing both males and females back into the “standard family” unit, hopefully increasing reproduction rates in turn.
Here’s the reality of it; while so much progress has been made, there still remain inequalities, gender roles, and the elephant in the office, the wage gap. All I am pointing out is some food for thought and possibly an aspect you’ve never considered before.
So the wage gap beats on, but until I make fighting for equal education in the Middle East a priority in my life, how can I expect anyone to help me fight my enemies? Let's be honest: The “you have your demons and I have mine” mentality just doesn’t work anymore. Don’t get pulled in different directions any longer, because while our demons may be different, we’re all fighting the same devil in the end: inequality that could have ended long ago.