Posted by: Staff | 05.15.2009

How Far Have Women Come?

KATIE BLOCK ’11

An Honors forum was held a little while back on the topic of “How Far Have Women Come?” Here in the United States, we already have a set of laws to protect women from discrimination. In countries around the world, women are being subjected to gender stereotypes. In Saudi Arabia, for example, “Women are not allowed to drive or ride bicycles on public roads in large cities…Women are allowed to fly aircraft, though they must be chauffeured to the airport” (Wikipedia). In Iran women can be stoned to death for cheating on their husbands… After the devastating tsunami and tidal waves in Southeast Asia, because of some countries enforcing Sharia (Islamic) law, many widows were able to regain claim to their husbands possessions .

           

  Feminism does not have to be a religious topic, but stereotypically Islam has a bad rap when it comes to women’s rights. To be fair, in their early days both Judaism and Christianity involved multiple wives, but those major religions have somewhat transitioned into gender equality. In the Catholic Church, women still cannot be ordained as priests. Remember that other rituals and rules condoned in the Bible are not applicable to many Christians around the world today.

            Another topic discussed was the role of the media in girls’ self esteem and body image. Elementary school girls are in treatment for eating disorders. Child beauty pageants turn little girls who should be out reading, playing, dancing, making art, or playing a sport, are instead being paraded around like animals all so their families can earn some prize money. Supposedly pageants teach girls self-confidence, but how hard is it for girls to feel good about themselves when they see a doll in the mirror?

            The media tells women to be thin and beautiful. The world of fashion tells women to be even thinner and unrealistically beautiful. The world of celebrities carries a similar message with a few exceptions like Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and even Blake Lively or Maria Sharapova, both tall, thin blondes, looking healthy compared to most of the models strutting on runways around the world. This kind of media attention is unacceptable because it destroys girls’ self-image.

            The dove campaign and Jenny Craig, The Tyra Banks Show and The Devil Wears Prada and many other books, ad campaigns, movies and TV shows strive to instill a positive sense of self image and self esteem into the girls and women of the world, but do they listen? With shows like Gossip Girl, America’s Next Top Model, Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives dominating the television the public watches, a realistic show most likely would not survive.  Too many women on TV are unrealistic, once again teaching girls what they should look like.

            The last topic focused on was how far women come today from our mothers’ have and grandmothers’ eras, and whether being a housewife or homemaker or stay at home mom is a real job. As far as the second topic goes, think about this: if one were to hire someone to do laundry, cook meals, clean the house, take care of the kids or drive everyone to activates, you pay them for those things. How far have women come since past generations? The fact is that the world today is a different one compared to the way older women grew up. It is true that women have come a long way, but certainly not enough. The question “How far have women come?” is a difficult one to answer since only the future can tell. Only time will tell how far women can, and will, go.

An Honors forum was held not-so-recently on the topic of “How Far Have Women Come?” Here in the United States, we already have a set of laws to protect women from discrimination. In countries around the world, women are being subjected to gender stereotypes. In Saudi Arabia, for example, “Women are not allowed to drive or ride bicycles on public roads in large cities…Women are allowed to fly aircraft, though they must be chauffeured to the airport” (Wikipedia). In Iran women can be stoned to death for cheating on their husbands… After the devastating tsunami and tidal waves in Southeast Asia, because of some countries enforcing Sharia (Islamic) law, many widows were unable to lay claim to their husbands possessions because their deceased husbands’ families laid claim to their estates.

             Feminism does not have to be a religious topic, but stereotypically Islam has a bad rap when it comes to women’s rights. To be fair, in their early days both Judaism and Christianity involved multiple wives, but those major religions have somewhat transitioned into gender equality. In the Catholic Church, women still cannot be ordained as priests. Remember that other rituals and rules condoned in the Bible are not applicable to many Christians around the world today.

            Another topic discussed was the role of the media in girls’ self esteem and body image. Elementary school girls are in treatment for eating disorders. Child beauty pageants turn little girls who should be out reading, playing, dancing, making art, or playing a sport, are instead being paraded around like animals all so their families can earn some prize money. Supposedly pageants teach girls self-confidence, but how hard is it for girls to feel good about themselves when they see a doll in the mirror?

            The media tells women to be thin and beautiful. The world of fashion tells women to be even thinner and unrealistically beautiful. The world of celebrities carries a similar message with a few exceptions like Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and even Blake Lively or Maria Sharapova, both tall, thin blondes, looking healthy compared to most of the models strutting on runways around the world. This kind of media attention is unacceptable because it destroys girls’ self-image.

            The dove campaign and Jenny Craig, The Tyra Banks Show and The Devil Wears Prada and many other books, ad campaigns, movies and TV shows strive to instill a positive sense of self image and self esteem into the girls and women of the world, but do they listen? With shows like Gossip Girl, America’s Next Top Model, Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives dominating the television the public watches, a realistic show most likely would not survive.  Too many women on TV are unrealistic, once again teaching girls what they should look like.

            The last topic focused on was how far women come today from our mothers’ have and grandmothers’ eras, and whether being a housewife or homemaker or stay at home mom is a real job. As far as the second topic goes, think about this: if one were to hire someone to do laundry, cook meals, clean the house, take care of the kids or drive everyone to activates, you pay them for those things. How far have women come since past generations? The fact is that the world today is a different one compared to the way older women grew up. It is true that women have come a long way, but certainly not enough. The question “How far have women come?” is a difficult one to answer since only the future can tell. Only time will tell how far women can, and will, go.

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