The History of the Problem
In the early 18th century, laws labeled the Coverture Laws were imposed on women. These laws made sure that women had no right and no control over their lives. Women who had money, a good husband, and lived comfortably were not likely to push back against these laws because they lacked any reason to complain. However, women who were poor or had abusive husbands had many reasons to fight back. Many of these women banded together in an effort to fight for their rights. This fight was quickly labeled the Women’s Suffrage Movement. During the period of 1848-1920, the Women’s Suffrage Movement was a prominent part of every woman’s life. They started creating and joining unions and leagues in order to have more influence in the fight for equality. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union was one of the most influential of these groups. Founded in 1874 by Frances Willard, the WCTU wanted a wide range of reforms. Willard stated that: “Politics is the place for women,” (Green) because their main request was the right to vote. After many years of fighting, women finally gained the right to vote, yet they still faced many inequalities and gender expectations leading up to World War 2 in 1839. Men began to leave the workforce to fight in the war, creating an increase in unfilled industrial jobs. Women were thus encouraged to leave their children and join the workforce and were given the opportunity to work at jobs that were normally “only fit for men,” increasing the women’s labor force by 7 million (Goldin). The gender norms and stigma associated with working women lessened, but it didn’t last long. As soon as men started coming back from war, women were forced out of their jobs and back into the house (Goldin). Even today we are still trying to reverse these norms.
To learn more about the beginning of women’s fight for justice and equality you can read my whole paper here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HkdyexNs0ZyjrGiL0bB1568Q9kK0P3snifVQqLehFRo/edit
The Problem Today
Although women have made incredible progress with regards to their rights within the workforce, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Issues like sexual harassment, the gender pay gap, and basic wrongdoings of men to women impede the progress of equal rights everyday. Many organizations have been created to fight for these rights, including the Me Too Movement which has done incredible work for sexual violence victims, and the American Civil Liberties Union which advocates for women’s rights in the social justice system and the workplace. This includes fighting the gender pay gap. The pay gap has narrowed from the 1960s when women’s earnings were approximately 60% as much as their male counterparts, as compared to now, when women earn 79-83% as much as what men earn, but it has not completely closed (Randstad). This is partly due to the fact that many people fail to admit that there is a gender pay gap. In fact 36% of men believe that women should not receive equal pay because they get more time off for family leave. This is one of the reasons women are still fighting for equality in 2020 more than one hundred years after women earned the right to vote.
If you want to learn more about these amazing organizations and what they are fighting for, please read my full paper here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xGzVH30nU_MijKgytOQBzr2B7jLPe6iF2gL0iQe2GZU/edit
Call for Action!
As a society we need to understand and teach others that men and women are equal, and that women deserve equality. We all have the power to fix this problem but we all need to make changes.
On an individual level, the best thing you can do is learn and read. Women and men both should have a basic understanding of what it means to have gender equality and make an inclusive and respectful environment. We also need to be the best influences we can to the youth in order to end the stereotype that women are less than men. Many people in this world still believe that women hate men and they are making up stories of harassment or injustice to get attention. Females have been silent for centuries and now we will not be quiet, but we need everyone’s support to end this fight once and for all. Having men join in and support is a major step in the right direction, but they can not be in the spotlight.
We need to start teaching young kids that girls and boys are and should be treated equally. Minimizing exposure to decades-old gender stereotypes at a young age will help end the cycle of toxic masculinity, and in return, teach children not to discriminate against women as they get older. We also need to teach the youth that people should not be objectified. The unfair, strict, and sexist dress codes we have in schools today are teaching girls that they cannot express themselves because the boys can’t control themselves and that they are just objects for men to look at. We shouldn’t be sexualizing these young girls. The current culture fuels the sexual violence we see as people get older and go into the real world. Once in the real world, there need to be stricter laws surrounding equal pay, and sexual harassment cases and accusations. For example, we need to push harder on the Paycheck fairness act in order to really see a change. If a male and a female are doing the same work for the same amount of time, they should be paid equally. It shouldn’t matter if women get more time off for family leave because they are birthing the child. They deserve paid leave without having to suffer because they decided to have a family. Women also should not be scared or embarrassed to speak up about uncomfortable behavior in the workplace or anywhere for that matter. We can make a system where women can confidently share their experience and get justice without being called a liar and attacked or losing their job or respect. Men who are being accused need to learn to own up to what they did and accept the consequences for their actions, instead of blaming the victim, saying that they were asking for it.
To read about more solutions read my full paper here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xGzVH30nU_MijKgytOQBzr2B7jLPe6iF2gL0iQe2GZU/edit
Here is the link to my sources: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lu8ynMDNN0Hx7tnfyaYqPgOWVpn9rWTKLPTueK5XEFs/edit#heading=h.1u3tw4mh7i2g
Now that you have some knowledge on the topic, what’s your view? Do you have any ideas? I would love to hear your open- minded ideas in the comments section!