I thought America was innocent. I thought America was not sexist. I believed that the accusations made against males, and the notion that women are sexualized, victimized, and oppressed in American society were false. After all, I never faced any sexism growing up? I was never looked down upon, told I was any lesser, or made out to be inferior because of my gender.
During every gender studies class this year, I preached innocent until proven guilty. I chose to defend men, thinking the information I was being presented wasn't the entire truth. I was always the first to look up whether men were often falsely accused of rape or whether men were just as likely as women to be sexualized.
Unfortunately, my searches told me I was being naive. Yes, there are men who are sexualized and there are men who continue to be falsely accused. Males face disadvantages when going into certain fields, and in cases where companies choose to hire females for the sole reason of increasing their gender equality, men are hurt. There is a problem with the way both sexes, male and female, are treated in America. However, the extent to which males are hurt is not the same as females. Males are not looked at for solely their gender.
The fact cannot go unnoticed that America is sexist. Women continue to be oppressed in today’s society, even though the extent of this oppression may be significantly less compared to what it was in the past or what it is in other countries today. Women are still seen as objects of desire, and their bodies are seen as objects which can be controlled externally.
A few examples in America today…
Women have their reproductive rights dictated by men.
Reproductive rights pertaining to abortion are passed by a state legislation, which on average, is comprised of 75% males. The idea that females cannot have certain reproductive procedures after a certain trimester or the laws that permit doctors to give false information which is meant to deter women from abortions are all legally justified by a predominantly male group. Women are still deceived when it comes to their reproductive rights by a majority of men who are hidden behind the written laws.
Women are meant to please the heterosexual man.
The male gaze is a term given to the idea that women in visual arts and literature are depicted from a masculine, heterosexual perspective. The male gaze promotes the notion that sexual pleasure is derived from objectifying a female. Examples of the Male Gaze can be seen in Hollywood movies, magazines (Swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated, Maxim, etc…) and music videos.
While these are just two examples, there are far more that can be found the further one digs into this issue. No matter how innocent we may make America out to be, at its core, there is still sexism that exists, and this sexism won’t go away without a fight — a fight that men and women alike must put up.
Women have come a long way: they have earned many of the same rights as men, and for the most part, have the same opportunities as men, including being paid the same as their male counterparts. Yet, this is not enough. Women deserve to be seen for their individuality, which extends far beyond their biological sex.
I am a feminist. I am not advocating for a matriarchy, but I am advocating for equality. I want my own purpose, dictated by myself. I want my accomplishments to reflect my merit, not my gender. I want to be looked at for who I am.