The purpose of this essay is to advocate for the continued advocacy for women's rights in America. I hope to make people understand that there is a significant gap between the perceived status of women in society and what they actually go through. The staggering statistics on women's domestic violence must also be shown, so that people understand there is still more work to do.
In completing this assignment, I learned that the status of women in America is much worse than I feared. I felt that I came to a greater understanding of the significant wage gaps and social barriers that women still face even today. While I had an idea of what to expect with this research, the extent of these inequalities was unknown to me and was surprising to read.
As I researched this assignment, I had trouble sifting through the sheer amount of data available to me regarding domestic abuse and women's rights. In order to get the right kind of perspectives, I chose a variety of sources, both critical and statistical, to link the objective evidence of sexism into a theoretical framework.
I very much enjoyed researching this assignment, as I felt I was learning much more about the subject of sexism than I knew before. Learning the various statistics about domestic violence and wage gaps lent me greater security about my assertions that sexism was still present in American society. I wanted to write about this topic because I have always been fascinated with the oppression, major or minor, of certain groups throughout human history. The fact that it still happens in such an arguably advanced and enlightened nation baffles me, and I wanted to know why and to what degree it still happens.
Sexism in America, despite the numerous advances that women have achieved in the past century, remains a distinct and ongoing problem. Things like domestic violence and wage inequalities are extremely present in American society, as wage gaps are still huge and the 'glass ceiling' is still dangerously present. Furthermore, sexism itself takes on many different forms, from benevolent to hostile, either of which can mask the inequalities that are present in American society. In order to deal with and address these issues, it is necessary to better understand them and explore them in depth.
There are two different types of sexism, both of which are present and accounted for in American society. First, there is the typical hostile sexism, which involves antipathy and lack of respect for women's ability to do things on their own. This is the most commonly exhibited and observed form of sexism, as it is easy to spot outright hatred of women. However, there is also benevolent sexism, which occurs when women are rewarded for upholding patriarchal ideas and gender roles. For example, someone can be benevolently sexist when they look to protect a woman because they feel she cannot do it on their own (Glick and Fiske 109).
In the workplace, women suffer wage and workload inequalities to a severe degree. In Offer and Schneider's "Revisiting the Gender Gap in Time-Use Patterns: Multitasking and Well-Being among Mothers and Fathers in Dual-Earner Families" (2011), the researchers study the topic of gender inequalities in multi-tasking, particularly as it pertains to parenting. In the case of dual-earner families it is shown that, "despite similarities in total workloads by gender, the division of labor between men and women among dual-earner families remains inequitable" (809). According to the evidence, some studies have shown that mothers may often feel stressed and overburdened with work more easily. With that in mind, the researchers ask: "Could women's heightened sense of burden and stress also be related to gender differences in multitasking?" (810).
Domestic violence is one of the most severe and common examples of sexism present in American society. Women suffer incredibly from the presence of domestic violence; health care costs alone make it far more expensive for those women who have experienced sexual assault to be treated than someone without. Violence against women is almost at epidemic levels, and the research behind it still needs greater focus, due to the often undisclosed nature of instances of violence (Alhabib, Nur, & Jones, 2010). What’s more, the police and legal costs of sexual and domestic violence cases cost taxpayers millions of dollars a year, as offenders must be found and prosecuted.
These types of sexism provide the worst effects; the damage that sexism and domestic violence can do to women creates irreparable harm to American society as a whole. Women who have experienced violence are also less able to contribute to society, due to the mental and emotional issues it brings out, as well as the hit to their self-esteem and ability to deal with the stresses of the work place. They take more personal days, are less focused at work, and easily quit their jobs or drop out of school. They are more likely to avoid environments where the abuser lives, making the workplace or the classroom a dangerous place to be. Parents of abused women can even keep their girls away from the workplace or school for fear of further sexual or domestic violence (“Violence Against Women,” 1997).
There are some who believe that sexism is dead; ever since the institution of women's suffrage and the establishment of the feminist movement since the 1960s, there has been a significant slowing, or lack of attention, paid to the furthering of women's rights and social equality in America (Berg 17). These people believe that feminism is inherently hostile and anti-men, and they oppose any furthering of equal rights for women. They do so under the claim that women and men already are equal, and that any further advocacy for women would seek to place them above men in American society (18). However, these perspectives ignore the still-rampant statistics on domestic violence and social/workplace inequalities that exist in America - inequalities that must be addressed.
In conclusion, sexism must be recognized as still existing in American society. Statistics have shown that tremendous wage gaps and instances of domestic violence remain against women, and that little public policy is being introduced or implemented to deal with these facts. Despite the successes of the suffrage movement and women's liberation in the 1970s, there are still significant hurdles for women to overcome. As a result, it is necessary to understand these lingering factors that keep women from achieving true equality and helping to overcome them.
Alhabib, S., Nur, U., & Jones, R. "Domestic Violence Against Women: Systematic
Review of Prevalence Studies." Journal of Family Violence, 25(4), 369-382. 2010. Print.
The researchers note an increasing rate of domestic violence against women in American society, which grows worse due to undisclosed cases.
Berg, Barbara J. Sexism in America: Alive, Well, and Ruining our Future. Chicago Review Press,
This book debunks the idea that sexism is dead after the advent of feminism, noting that lingering sexism in popular culture and public policy contributes to more inequalities between men and women at home and in the workplace.
Glick, Peter and Susan T. Fiske. "An Ambivalent Alliance: Hostile and Benevolent Sexism as
Complementary Justifications for Gender Inequality." American Psychologist 56(2), pp.
109-118. 2001. Print.
The authors talk about the difference between benevolent sexism and hostile sexism; in essence, they argue that it is still possible to reward women for adhering to patriarchal ideas of gender and perpetuate gender inequality all the same.
Offer, S., & Schneider, B. "Revisiting the gender gap in time-use patterns: Multitasking and
well-being among mothers and fathers in dual-earner families." American Sociological
Review 76(6), pp. 809-933, 2011. Print.
Due to the larger stress placed on mothers due to the varying venues for multitasking, the researchers hypothesize that mothers have a more stressful multitasking experience than fathers do.
Violence against women: health consequences. World Health Organization, 1997. Print.
This working paper from the WHO notes the distinct health hazards, both short and long-term, of domestic violence against women. Effects include substantial bleeding, internal hemorrhaging, and in some cases death.