Women, We Are The Reason We're Not Equal

Women, We Are The Reason We're Not Equal

It's about time we got our stuff together.
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I never thought I’d find myself writing about this, and yet here I am; I have done a lot of reflecting on my friendships, and as I look back on the broken and mended fences that have formed in my life, I realized a common problem in female relationships:

For women to have strong, healthy relationships with each other — if we expect to have the same opportunities as men — we need to start respecting each other.

We have all heard the rhetoric repeated a thousand times in our ears: “Men look at women as inferior or less capable or less deserving than themselves. They need to have more respect for us if we want to achieve the same things as them.” And while I know this is true, I don’t feel the need to write about it because everybody else already has.

What I see as the biggest change that this world needs to see, is women respecting other women.

I have witnessed my fair share of misogyny at the hands of boys who think that I am less deserving than them, but the biggest sources of my problems when I am in leadership are the other women I work with. This stems from a lifetime of being taught that we are in competition with our fellow women.

Ladies, start looking for instances in media and in your own personal lives when you or those you witness are pitted against other women in competition for friends, men, and leadership roles.

We are taught that we need not show respect for women who are wiser and more experienced than us, but that we must refuse their counsel and instead strive to overpower them. Better yet, try to look for examples of healthy, positive female friendships in the media; these are exponentially harder to find.

I have been fortunate enough to befriend some of the most outstanding women I have ever met. They are intelligent, strong, compassionate leaders with fiery independence and endless potential. But I am also aware that these friendships are rare. I cannot count the number of people I thought were my friends, just to find out that they were consistently gossiping about me, trying to make me look bad, or were outright terrible friends.

I think we all need to reflect on our own behavior and realize that these friendships are not only unnatural but unhealthy. One of the first times that I really got to know one of my best friends was when we were competing for the same leadership role in our organization (shameless plug for Baylor Delta Sigma Pi). We stood outside together as the votes rolled in. As we waited, we agreed that whoever lost would become the “Assistant,” and that either way we would work in partnership until the following semester when the Assistant would hold the position.

Once we found out who won, that’s exactly what happened. When my friend won, we became a successful recruitment team built on mutual trust and respect, and the following semester I took over the role. Why aren’t these the stories that we expect to experience? How often do you look at your competitor, recognize that you both love competition, but still shake hands and agree to a fair fight? These are the relationships that are lacking in the female community but are the ones that are most important.

Even from the time we are 10 years old, this idea that we have poor relationships with other women is fed to us. Just last year, my 5th-grade cousin and the other girls in her grade had to skip recess to write apology letters to each other, while boys were able to go outside to do trust falls. These girls may have had perfectly healthy relationships with their classmates, yet they were told that they had something to apologize for.

This may seem like an attempt to solve the problem that I claim our society has, and indeed, that may have been the intention. But psychologically, telling a girl that she has poor relationships and needs to apologize for them, especially if these relationships are being compared to relationships between boys, reinforces the idea that this is how things “just are.”

While writing an apology letter is the best solution for many situations, telling all girls that they need to apologize for doing nothing wrong when they are 10 is the very reason I apologized yesterday when someone bumped into me because they were texting while walking, or why there are dozens of movies about crazy women who cause problems, while we empathize with a man who takes none of the blame.

Alternatively, I learned how to have healthy friendships with my first built-in friend. My sister and I have not always been close, and in fact, we haven’t always liked each other very much. But while this was the case, we always had a mutual respect for each other. My mom (hi mom! I hope you read my articles!) instilled in us that we don’t have to be best friends, but we have to respect and support one another. This means that even when we fight, we keep each other’s secrets. Even when she steals my clothes, I help her with college applications. She may not want to talk to me, but she’ll still give me a ride to work if that’s what she promised.

And when it comes to friendships, I treat other women the same way. We may not have personalities that are compatible for friendship, but if you are a hard worker, I’ll defend you when our boss asks about your work ethic.

I’m sure some of you are reading this saying “guys can have unhealthy relationships too” or “I’m a woman and I know SO MANY great women and we have awesome relationships.” And while those things are definitely true, it is also true that many issues in our society are faced by some people more than others, and this is an issue that faces more women than men. I don’t expect everyone to share my experiences, but I invite you to take a look at your relationships and the relationships of those around you to see if you are a catalyst for change.

Do you make your relationships better? Do you encourage others to make their relationships better? Or, are you a person who brings other people down, and encourages others to do the same?

Cover Image Credit: PxHere

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I Am A Female And I Am So Over Feminists

I believe that I am a strong woman, but I also believe in a strong man.
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Beliefs are beliefs, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I'm all about girl power, but in today's world, it's getting shoved down our throats. Relax feminists, we're OK.

My inspiration actually came from a man (God forbid, a man has ideas these days). One afternoon my boyfriend was telling me about a discussion his class had regarding female sports and how TV stations air fewer female competitions than that of males. In a room where he and his other male classmate were completely outnumbered, he didn't have much say in the discussion.

Apparently, it was getting pretty heated in the room, and the women in the class were going on and on about how society is unfair to women in this aspect and that respect for the female population is shrinking relative to the male population.

If we're being frank here, it's a load of bull.

SEE ALSO: To The Women Who Hate Feminism

First of all, this is the 21st century. Women have never been more respected. Women have more rights in the United States than ever before. As far as sports go, TV stations are going to air the sports that get the most ratings. On a realistic level, how many women are turning on Sports Center in the middle of the day? Not enough for TV stations to make money. It's a business, not a boycott against female athletics.

Whatever happened to chivalry? Why is it so “old fashioned" to allow a man to do the dirty work or pay for meals? Feminists claim that this is a sign of disrespect, yet when a man offers to pick up the check or help fix a flat tire (aka being a gentleman), they become offended. It seems like a bit of a double standard to me. There is a distinct divide between both the mental and physical makeup of a male and female body. There is a reason for this. We are not equals. The male is made of more muscle mass, and the woman has a more efficient brain (I mean, I think that's pretty freaking awesome).

The male body is meant to endure more physical while the female is more delicate. So, quite frankly, at a certain point in life, there need to be restrictions on integrating the two. For example, during that same class discussion that I mentioned before, one of the young ladies in the room complained about how the NFL doesn't have female athletes. I mean, really? Can you imagine being tackled by a 220-pound linebacker? Of course not. Our bodies are different. It's not “inequality," it's just science.

And while I can understand the concern in regard to money and women making statistically less than men do, let's consider some historical facts. If we think about it, women branching out into the workforce is still relatively new in terms of history. Up until about the '80s or so, many women didn't work as much as they do now (no disrespect to the women that did work to provide for themselves and their families — you go ladies!). We are still climbing the charts in 2016.

Though there is still considered to be a glass ceiling for the working female, it's being shattered by the perseverance and strong mentality of women everywhere. So, let's stop blaming men and society for how we continue to “struggle" and praise the female gender for working hard to make a mark in today's workforce. We're doing a kick-ass job, let's stop the complaining.

I consider myself to be a very strong and independent female. But that doesn't mean that I feel the need to put down the opposite gender for every problem I endure. Not everything is a man's fault. Let's be realistic ladies, just as much as they are boneheads from time to time, we have the tendency to be a real pain in the tush.

It's a lot of give and take. We don't have to pretend we don't need our men every once in a while. It's OK to be vulnerable. Men and women are meant to complement one another—not to be equal or to over-power. The genders are meant to balance each other out. There's nothing wrong with it.

I am all for being a proud woman and having confidence in what I say and do. I believe in myself as a powerful female and human being. However, I don't believe that being a female entitles me to put down men and claim to be the “dominant" gender. There is no “dominant" gender. There's just men and women. Women and men. We coincide with each other, that's that. Time to embrace it.

Cover Image Credit: chrisjohnbeckett / Flickr

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People With Disabilities Deserve Representation, Like Any Other Group Of People

Having a disability is not completely uncommon, however, movies and television make it seem as if anytime someone with a disability appears, it's the first thing that needs to be noticed.

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The film and movie industry took a fresh and powerful step in the right direction when it came to representing racial and gender equality. With movies like "Black Panther" and "Crazy Rich Asians" theaters were quickly packed with audiences who were waiting to see more of themselves on screen. For women, the "Me Too" movement stands for an empowering cause that is still being passionately fought for. Though I very much enjoyed watching these movies (I went to see "Crazy Rich Asians" in theaters twice), I kept thinking when it would be time for the same movement to open its arms to those with disabilities.

Having a disability is not completely uncommon, however, movies and television make it seem as if anytime someone with a disability appears, it's the first thing that needs to be noticed. Usually, the actor isn't playing just a main or side role, but someone with a very "inspiring" or "touching" backstory and conflict which unfolds throughout the plot. Such stories prove to be very emotional and dramatic, reigning in many awards for stellar and career-making performances, but why can't a person with a disability just be a person? More often than not, the characters in question are also played by able-bodied actors.

Most recently, the film, "The Upside" sees Bryan Cranston playing a quadriplegic. Other examples include Eddie Redmayne in "The Theory of Everything" and Sam Claflin in "Me Before You." There is no shortage of actors with disabilities wanting roles and inclusion, so why aren't they given the chance? Cranston explains that it's completely due to business. As an actor, he states that he called upon to play all types of people, so why would having a disability change that? And to that I ask, would an actor with a disability ever be called to play an able-bodied character? The answer is simple, no they wouldn't. It might be hard to look for an actor with a similar caliber of talent to Cranston, but that can't be known for sure if the effort isn't put in. Furthermore, even if the hypothetical disabled actor would not be able to act as well as Cranston, they would still be able to bring something that Cranston can't, experience and more importantly, authenticity.

Some say famous and known actors need to play such roles so that people will actually come to watch the movie for it to gain recognition. However, disabled or not, all actors need to start somewhere. If roles for disabled characters continue to be given to able-bodied actors without an open audition, how is one even supposed to try?

Personally, I can count the number of actors with disabilities in current or well-known roles with only the five fingers of one of my hands. Most famously, Peter Dinklage in "Game of Thrones," Micah Fowler in "Speechless," Meredith Eaton in "MacGyver," Millicent Simmonds in "A Quiet Place," and David Bower in "Four Weddings and a Funeral." Dinklage and Eaton both have dwarfism, Fowler has cerebral palsy, and both Simmonds and Bower are deaf. Simmonds and Bower both have movie roles, whereas Fowler is the only one with a main role in a television show. That is unbelievable. Of the five roles, I have only watched three so I feel apt to only comment on those. Fowler having cerebral palsy is important to the show and provides insight into the struggles of someone like him within high school and his family.

Though "Speechless" is a comedy and maintains a lighthearted atmosphere, for the most part, it still brings to light how milestones change when one is placed in different circumstances. Having Simmonds play the deaf daughter of a family trying to hide from monsters with a heightened sense of hearing brought an added conflict and suspense to the film. In the end, it was she who actually ended up saving her family (well most of her family) from the creatures. Lastly, Bower played the brother of Hugh Grant's lover boy in the romantic comedy and he didn't need to be deaf. Yet, having the character of David to be deaf really highlighted the relationship and understanding between him and Charles (Grant) and their communication only added jokes to the much-loved classic. I think there is a misunderstanding, especially in films and television, that having a disability needs to take something away from a person, when in reality, it adds depth, different experiences, and new perspectives.

Representation, or lack thereof, is a crucial contributor to how people are perceived in the real world, as well as the stereotypes associated with them. To this day, as an almost 20-year-old, I still get stares and pointing from children, which is fine. It makes sense and it's completely understandable. The problem lies in what happens after. When parents find their children doing that, they just tell them to stop such behavior without taking a minute to explain to their child that "Yes, people are different and you will come across all different types of people in school and beyond, but in the end, we're all just the same." Having a disability shouldn't be taboo and having more people with disabilities on screen would help to change that. If a complete stranger were to start a conversation with me on a bus or grocery store and started to ask how I drive or do certain activities, I would be most happy to oblige. But because it's not something we see very often, people inherently choose to and shy away from talking about it.

Another point which I didn't think would need to be mentioned until recently is that people with disabilities do not all look the same. It's a fairly simple concept, but I felt that I had to address it after I noticed that people on campus were mistaking me with another girl with dwarfism. As I have stated before, there are more than 30,000 people on campus so that increases the chance of coming across more than one person with any said condition. Now, this girl and I don't look anything at all alike. Besides for height and body structure, everything else is different. We have different skin tones, different hair color, etc. Initially, I thought the situation to be quite funny, but later on, I realized how problematic it actually was. It's pretty much the equivalent to saying all Asians look the same because of the shape of their eyes.

I'm waiting for inclusion towards disabled actors and for diversity in their roles. I want to see someone in a wheelchair pursue a completely able-bodied person as their love interest in a romantic comedy. I want to see deaf and blind characters play the charming best friend. I want to see a character with autism playing the lead in a crime show while solving murder mysteries. There are so many opportunities for the disabled community to be highlighted onscreen, and by not doing so, the audience is missing out on a lot of new talent. It's 2019 and it's about time the movement for representation extends to those with disabilities as well. It's about time disabilities are normalized and talked about.

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