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Get Back in the Kitchen

December 9, 2010

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 Some of these challenges of the old beliefs are laws which have been added, changed, or repealed to encourage or enforce equality between sexes.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.

  1. aubriem permalink
    December 9, 2010 6:52 PM

    Very nicely put, and the argumentations on either ends were great. It is a shame that a large group of people, many females, are content with the amount of rights that they have received thus far. Yet, there is still the fact that women are still treated very different from men. As stated by Aaron Berstein in the article “Women’s Pay: Wy the Gap Remains A Chasm,” women are making 77% of what men are earning doing the same work. Inequalities in the work place take an overall toll on women, especially with statistics stating that a good majority of those in poverty are single mothers. This women make less than men, placing them into poverty-stricken lifestyles. Furthermore, working women enjoy the freedom that comes with having a job outside of the home, but they still have a second shift, a second job to work without any benefits. There is no longer a want to marry in order to have stability, a home, food, and a family. More and more, women are wanting to make it on their own and support themselves before beginning a family. Society is still holding women back from living their own lives and we shouldn’t conform to the current state of things when we haven’t even reached full potential yet.

  2. chris070310 permalink
    December 9, 2010 10:44 PM

    America’s society is slowly changing. Lately, women have been gaining more degrees and positions for jobs. However, they are still not gaining enough income for their labor. I believe as long as there are men in power women will always become secondary, because men feel that if a woman is leading, they may lose power and decrease their manhood from being the ruler of everything. Not saying that men are sexist and believe that they can do everything better than a woman, but this is the stereotype of our society. Mill already believes that women have the capability to surpass men in everything because they are long-term successful thinkers. Honestly, I agree, one day women will be the majority of our voice for America, until then, men will always make them secondary.

  3. Christine Irish permalink
    December 9, 2010 11:38 PM

    I think you make a great point in your post. Though there are many who claim that women are equals in today’s world, we still have a long way to go until true equality is a reality. There are many women who are successful in worlds that were traditionally considered masculine like business, law, and medicine, but those women stand out for a reason, they are still not the majority. There are still far fewer men than women at the highest levels of power in business, and we are consistently paid less for the same work that men do. Thank you for highlighting that point.

  4. rickover09 permalink
    December 9, 2010 11:44 PM

    I agree, that there have been great changes done yet have a ways to go. That being said I believe men have to join the women movement for any real progress to be made and take hold. (By joining I essentially mean believing, as well.) That’s simply how our society works and anything deviating form the norm causes for people to grow wary. Whether we like it or not men are the ones leading our nation and without their support progress will be that much harder to accomplish. As discussed in my section a lot more gets done with 100% (both and women and men) on board oppose to just 50% (just women) of the population on board with such a movement or really any movement for that matter. When thinking about it, it saddens me to say but in a way I feel like women even nowadays with this lack of inequality need the permission of men. I truly hope that ends once everyone grows and sees the bigger picture of true equality amongst individuals, thus making things better for everyone one day.

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