Opinion: Women still have much to achieve for equality

Draven Jackson

Arts and Entertainment Editor

In the event of Women’s History Month, it is important that we evaluate where we, as a nation, stand in terms of gender equality and women’s rights. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Why are we still talking about this? Women got to vote in 1920 with the 19th Amendment. We are a modern society that is much more open and accepting than the people of the past. What more is there to talk about?

And if you are thinking this, you’re not wrong – we have come a lot further in terms of gender equality since 1920. However, there are still some inherently problematic symptoms of gender inequality that plague our nation and its people. 

Let’s start with everyone’s favorite topic: the gender and wage gap in the workplace. Yes, despite what you may have been told, it does still exist. 

According to an article published by the Washington Post in 2018 entitled “Gender inequality in the workplace is not just a women’s issue,” the National Women’s Law Center found that “a woman will earn $418,800 less than the average man over a four-decade career; that deficit jumps to close to $1 million for African American women and even higher for Latinos.”

The same article also quotes a study done by Yale that found that the voices of women are often not heard during workplace meetings – where male executives speak 75 percent of the time. 

Not only do women not make the same amount as a man for doing the same job, but their opportunities to apply themselves to the job at hand and possibly better the company with their ideas and innovations are also continuously undervalued or silenced. 

But the workplace isn’t the only situation where gender inequality has continued to be a problem – according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “One in five women and one in 71 men will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.” 

Twenty percent of women will experience the traumatic experience of sexual assault during their lifetime.

Not to mention, the average goes up when considering assaults on college campuses, where 20-25 percent of women and 15 percent of men experience assault during their time at school. Worse still, more than 90 percent of these assaults go unreported. 

However, the assault itself isn’t the only problem. Not only are these victims assaulted, but then if they do report the assault, they are subjected to unfair questioning on where they were, what they were wearing, how much they were drinking – all playing into our nation’s history of victim shaming. 

Then, even after all this pain and violence and trauma, the victims must watch as their violators are given minimal sentences of six months (sometimes only serving three months for “good behavior” in the case of the Stanford rapist, Brock Turner), become Supreme Court judges, or even presidential candidates and leaders. 

They degrade and sexualize women with dehumanizing phrases like “20 minutes of action” and refer to women as body parts to be grabbed at will. 

And while I realize that such terms might be offensive to some, imagine hearing it, as a woman, in connection to discussing a woman’s worth from the man who would later be named President of the United States. 

Our country has made immense strides in recent years with the creation of the #MeToo movement and the loss of elections and positions by those reported to be sexual assaulters, such as Roy Moore who was part of the Alabama Senate race. 

However, there’s still more we could be doing to be better. As a nation, we could be more open, more inviting, and a safe space for citizens of all genders, races, religions, sexual orientations, and ways of life. 

We must not become complacent in our ongoing war for equality. Continue fighting, America. Be a country where we can be proud to raise our children. 

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