Get Back in the Kitchen
In Jon Stuart Mill’s On the Subjugation of Women, a point is made throughout the text that societal views of men, women, and their roles are contingent on the views and traditions from our past. To some extent, the views of women that existed in Mill’s time have been challenged and beaten, setting the foundations for society to eventually realize males and females as true equals. Some of these challenges of the old beliefs are laws which have been added, changed, or repealed to encourage or enforce equality between sexes. In our current age and society, it is clearly visible that women’s rights have come far way past their pitiful state in the older societies of the 19th century and before. To most people, it would appear that, while we have not yet reached the ultimately desired goal for women’s rights, we are well on the way. I, however, postulate that any progress that appears to have been made in the battle for the equality of women is but a drop in the bucket compared to what still needs to be done.
“You’re crazy,” a friend of mine told me when I first expressed this belief. “The rights to vote, equal job opportunities, and the many other things we’ve accomplished in the last 100 years are huge!” She gave me examples of successful, “independent” women; businesswomen, religious and cultural leaders, musicians, artists, and teachers were all part of such examples. I couldn’t disagree on her points, because successful woman teachers, artists, or businesswomen are indeed cases of where the reforms and changes in the past century have made things better. Where her examples failed her, in my belief, was the idea such women are truly “independent,” for the actuality is that all of those women are dependent on the agreement and support of the bodies which enforce and create the changes, and those enforcing bodies are composed of people who may or may not be sold yet on gender-equality.
Part of Bill Heck’s recommended
attire for Betty Sutton.
Now, this might be where I’ve lost you. You may think to yourself, “But I do believe women are our equals! Furthermore, the people I’ve met who don’t feel this way are such a small minority, they don’t even matter!” This is perfectly sound reasoning, but the unfortunate truth is that there are people in our governments who are part of this minority, and, in Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, “A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere.” One relatively recent example of this in America was in April when a GOP mailer was sent via email to over 15,000 republican Ohio households, saying to “Put [Betty Sutton] back in the kitchen.” Even worse, Medina Country GOP Chairman Bill Heck later reported that he “had not received any complaints.” That lack of complaint in and of itself is alarming, and it shows how fragile the state of women’s rights and equality really is if elected officials and the people who elect them aren’t at all fazed by such blatantly derogatory and offensive speech; it shows that a most monumental task still needs to be undertaken by the feminist movement, the task of making people truly believe in the cause.
I want to conclude that, no matter how much I want to see the feminist movement succeed, we cannot be content with what’s already been accomplished. Women have more legal rights and representation than any other time in modern history, but until we can make everyone believe in the equality of the sexes, the cause cannot be allowed to rest.