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Shifting the Spheres: Gender in Today's Society

By Ashlyn Peter | 12/15/16 7:49pm | Updated 12/15/16 7:49pm
Allison Bowen / American Word Magazine

Society is finally starting to let its feminist flag fly. Women can vote, divorce and work alongside men. However, with all these progressive changes, injustices now stick out like a sore thumb. So, here are some areas that still need work:

1. With the creation of Tinder and “netflix and chill,” relationships have become very fluid. However, many women refuse to break the traditional norm of saying “I do” and slapping a “Mrs.” onto their names for fear of being outcasts. At first, these female addresses were only used to reflect social standing; yet, the majority of us no longer see Ms. or Mrs. as addressing class status, but rather marital status. And, as such, this practice is really outdated. We live in a time when women are more than willing to define themselves through their work ethic and achievements, not through their relationship statuses. But, society still binds women to this ancient taboo. It’s about time to drop the Mr. and Mrs. because that’s just so old-school.

2. Society asserts that men’s and women’s interests belong in different gender spheres. Yet, Jacob Field, an American University junior, enrolled in a Victorian literature class despite the stigma that it is a course geared toward women. “I just thought...this is something that interests me, and I want to learn more about it,” said Field. Interests have no gender. However, some people still let stereotypes of masculinity and femininity get in the way of pursuing their real interests. “Men with other men are constantly checking that they’re behaving in the… right hegemonic type of masculinity that’s appropriate for that cultural context,” said Cara Okopny, a professor in American University’s Women’s, Gender, Sexuality Studies program. In today’s homes however, some men are stay-at-home dads, while women work as bread winners. With progress like this, it doesn’t matter how you identify – you can and should give your best self to the world, regardless of stereotypes.

3. The media, which continues to grow in influence, purports that women can only exist through men. This summer at the Rio Olympics, the “Chicago Tribune” tweeted the headline, “Wife of a Bears’ Lineman Wins a Bronze Medal Today in Rio Olympics.” This sexism isn’t just a one-time offense. Google “sexist news headlines,” and you’ll be scrolling for days. American society is so rooted in patriarchy that a woman’s accomplishments can only be downplayed or credited to a masculine influence. Okopny said, “[The media] is going to favor those who are behind the camera and behind the corporations—aka men.” Even if a woman is the one sitting behind the table, she’s often pressured to look her best. News flash: anchors are being paid to report the news, not to push feminine objectification.

4. FEMINISM. This word has many definitions, so let’s call it what it is – gender equality. As a feminist, I am not advocating for women’s rights above men’s – I am simply fighting for the rights that were granted to me by bad-ass women almost 100 years ago. Yet despite the incredible work of these women, men are still trying to tell me that I don’t know what’s best for my own body or skillset. This movement is about showing society how strong it can be if genders make equal contributions. We’re not saying other lives don’t matter; we’re trying to raise awareness so people no longer have an excuse to be ignorant to the inequalities that women still struggle with. As Okopny said, “It’s really important to listen to each other, because there’s a reason folks are saying what they’re saying.” We need to remember what it feels like to experience a human connection, rather than one buried in gender identities. We're all humans, so let's start treating each other as such.