Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Curse of Womanhood

An example of a student reaction essay.
            Diversity presents individuals all around the world with various difficulties. Race, age, gender, socioeconomic class, and ability level can all affect the way an individual is treated. One group that has faced many challenges throughout history is women. The right to vote, fighting against stereotypes and societal prescribed gender roles, and abuse are just a few of the struggles women have endured over time. Decades have gone by and yet women still struggle everyday to obtain equal footing with men. Even in the modern world, even though women have made progress, there are still obstacles to be faced.
            As a female, I hold very strong beliefs toward women’s rights. Growing up in a patriarchal society has not shaped me into a woman who has dinner ready for her husband when he gets off work or a woman who keeps “her place” as I have heard many times. I have spent many years of my life trying to defend the notion that I am a strong capable female. Out of best intentions, I have had a very overprotective family. Since I began dating, I have heard comments such as “why don’t you let Jesse do that?” or “Jesse can do that for you!” when I have tried to do something that requires the slightest amount of muscle. When I drive home alone at night everyone worries about me and tells me a thousand times to be careful as though I have less driving ability simply because I’m a woman. However, I have been lucky in that I have not suffered emotional, sexual, or physical abuse at the hands of a man as many women have. 
            In addition to the gender role expectations and sexist attitudes I have faced, I will continue to struggle because of my sex on a daily basis. I will certainly make less than my male counterpart. This is mostly because I have chosen to be a social worker, but is it the case that social workers make less because it is a mostly female dominated field? In addition to my career choice, I will also make less because I will one day become a mother. The “reproduction of labor” will cause me to miss work, in turn losing more money. If I had chosen another field, I may have experienced even worse consequences, such as discrimination in a male dominated field.
            Along with the problem of lower wages for women comes the recent trend of the feminization of poverty. What this means is that more women are poor or in poverty than men. This has come with many changes including more single parent families. Since many single parents are women, many women are raising their families on one income. This obviously means they are making less and many are falling into poverty.
            The question is, how do we make life better for women. This is a very complex issue and many solutions have been proposed with various opponents and proponents of each. It seems that solving the feminization of poverty would include raising wages for women, but this may not have enough impact and will take a long time to accomplish. Some have suggested that the solution to all of the problems of the feminization of poverty would include another source of income in the home. It has been proposed that we should instate programs that teach women how to find men. There are a great number of things wrong with this proposal. Rather than teaching women how to be good mates, why are we not focusing on creating an equal society? Another action that should be taken to improve the lives of women includes teaching males and females both how to have healthy relationships.
            Another reason for the feminization of poverty is the fact that more people are having children out of wedlock. Rather than focusing on how to create the perfect wife, maybe it would be helpful to encourage men to take on more of a profound role in parenting. This may help since many women are the sole caregiver of their children and some men refuse to help. It seems that in society women who refuse to care for their children are much more stigmatized than men who choose not to be in their child’s life.
            In order to improve the lives of women everywhere, we must convert from a patriarchal society to an equal society where both men and women are appreciated. We must teach our children to value all others regardless of race, age, or gender. In class, we proposed that it may be helpful to have social workers in grade school to teach relationships. I feel it would be great to focus on healthy relationships in school more than what the focus currently is. This general focus on mutual respect and understanding in relationships may help society in many ways by helping individuals be better mates, better parents, and may even help reduce the incidence of bullying.      

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