Think of the number $407,760. If someone told you that you could make that much extra money in your lifetime by switching jobs, would you? What if the only way to do that was to have a different gender? This is the reality of the gender wage gap.
While the gender wage gap is usually discussed in terms of dollars to cents, this can minimize the issue. When framed in terms of missing out on eighteen cents to every dollar, this may not seem like a big deal. However, missing out on $407,760 is a very big deal. That is the cost of a house. A new car. Multiple college educations.
Drag is defined as members of one sex impersonating the other. Men who become drag queens impersonate women. Drag kings are the opposite. However, it is becoming more common for women to get into drag hair, makeup, and dress as women – this type of drag is known as “bio queens”. Essentially, over exaggerated versions of themselves or their alter egos. Here is drag queen Trixie Mattel sharing the history of drag culture.
The art of drag has been accepted more and more among common society as topics of gender, sexuality, and fluidity have been more of a conversation. Much of its mainstream popularity is due to the competition reality show Rupaul’s Drag Race. It is common for gay bars and nightclubs to host performances by drag queens and kings. Many people either adore drag or are confused by it. Based on its close ties to gender, I would like to explore the relationship between drag and feminism.
When we watch a Shakesperian play today we might find a few female characters who are well developed, strong, or autonomous. Rosalind is perhaps the primary example of this, with a few others who deserve mention— Desdemona, Portia, Viola, and Hermia. While I think it unlikely that some of the plays these characters operate within could pass the Bechdel Test, it is important to note that at the time Shakespeare was developing these characters, women were bound to household duties and many of these characters are breaking gender traditions.
At the time of these strong female characters’ stage premieres, they were played by male actors. In fact, every character was played by a man; it was illegal for a woman to be on a commercial stage until 1661. How does this change the play? What would it do to audiences today if a company were to cast Rosalind as a male? These decisions will determine the audience’s reception of the play. In today’s social climate art forms lead social change by inspiring conversation, which are often a result of the decisions made at the audition table.
Throughout history, women have moved their way up the ladder of journalism. Women journalists are a controversial topic, but with each generation of new female reporters, new doors and opportunities are opening. Although, unfortunately, today men still dominate most major media outlets. Sexism, sexual harassment, unequal pay, unequal promotions, and a lack of diverse female representation is what the industry has yet to overcome completely for women. Oftentimes female reporters are less trusted than male reporters. They are also seen as less educated on serious political and social topics than men.
Despite many politicians claiming that the US has the best healthcare in the world, the reports simply say otherwise. In 2014, The Commonwealth Fund published “Mirror, Mirror On the Wall,” which is a report comparing healthcare in the United States to the rest of the world. In this report, they establish that the US has the most expensive healthcare system (spending roughly $3 trillion every year, or roughly $9,523 per person), yet consistently performs poorly in most dimensions. These high costs are detrimental for many Americans across the board of medical issues, but they are especially harmful to pregnant women and new mothers.
The Mental Load is having to constantly keep track of what needs to be done and when it needs to be done, in the context of household chores and errands. This load is typically placed on women in the home, mostly because they are thought of as the caregivers and the ones who are supposed to be doing housework. In many homes, women have to distribute chores to their husbands and children. They have to know how much laundry is piling up and whose needs to be done first, which rooms have been most recently cleaned and which haven’t, when the dishes need to be done, if the dishes in the dishwasher are clean or dirty, and so much more. This is a constant list that keeps going all day, every day. There is always something to be done, and Mom is the only one who knows what it is. She is expected to tell each person in the household what to do and when to do it. This is typically not the same for men in the home.
Men tend to think they are “helping” their partners when they do chores with or without being asked. The problem with this logic is that by saying they are “helping,” they are revealing that they think housework is the responsibility of their partners. This makes for an unequal household. When women complain about the amount of chores they have to do and that their partner has not done anything at all, men tend to make the comment: “You should’ve asked!” As if they do not have eyes and cannot see the dishes piling up in the sink, that Mom is busy helping their child with homework, that the laundry needs to be done. Men feel that if they haven’t been asked to do it, it doesn’t need to be done. And if their wife asks them too many times and then gets angry because it still isn’t done, she is “nagging” him.
“Katherine G. Johnson refused to be limited by society’s expectations of her gender and race while expanding the boundaries of humanity’s reach.” – Barack Obama, 2015
Creola Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson, who went by Katherine Johnson, was a mathematician for NASA for thirty-five years. She was born the youngest of four children on Aug. 26, 1918, in West Virginia’s White Sulphur Springs to Joshua and Joylette Coleman, a farmer and a school teacher respectively.
When she was ten years old, Katherine began high school at Institute, West Virginia and graduated when she was fourteen. The year after, she entered West Virginia State College, a historically black institution. At WVSC she took all the math courses they had to offer by her junior year, so her mentor there, William Waldron Schieffelin Claytor, decided to create special classes just for her. Later, this proved to be problematic when Katherine was chosen by the president of West Virginia State to integrate into West Virginia University, an all-white institution in Morgantown, WV, in 1940. The problem “was finding a course that didn’t duplicate Dr. Claytor’s meticulous tutelage.”
Typically, the men’s rights movement and feminism are at odds. The way I wanted to start this article was “in short, they have no place”, but that would not be completely true. Men’s issues have a place in feminism, although somewhere in the back, because these issues are not at the forefront of the movement. This is for good reason, as attention has been paid to (white) men and men only for almost all of humanity’s history. There have been a few influencers who have said that there are no (or not many) advocates for men’s rights. This is not true. The entire history of “mankind” has advocated for men’s rights. We are simply choosing to focus on minority and women’s rights at the moment. Men may be upset by this because the focus has always been on them. Any attention taken away from them feels like injustice.
The main focus of the “men’s rights movement” seems to be on male circumcision, male suicide rates, false claims of rape and sexual harassment, low higher education attendance rates for males, lower academic performance in males, and the lack of programs for male survivors of domestic violence. These are all valid and important issues that do and should have a place in feminism. Unfortunately, the misogynistic ways of some activists are focusing more on drowning feminism in the name of these issues instead of working with feminists to solve them. The movement is often used as a way for men to turn the tables and paint themselves as victims to gain power over women once again. They claim that laws made to protect women are actually discriminating against them, and that women are trying to diminish or erase the roles of males in society.
“It’s getting people to understand that there are reasons that we need a literary prize that is dedicated to women at this point in publishing and … that ultimately it’s going to benefit not just women, but really all readers, because we know categorically that books that win awards are more widely read and we also know that while women seem to read all genders of writers, men tend to only read other men.” – Author, Jodi Picoult, on the importance of the Carol Shields Prize
Carol Shields was a American-Canadian play write, novelist and short story writer who won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Governor General’s Award both for the same novel The Stone Diaries. In addition to being an award winning writer, Shields also taught at the college level in Canada as an English professor. She won many prestigious awards for her writing in fiction and non-fiction. Unfortunately, in 2003 Shields died from breast cancer at the age of 68. Her daughter, who is also a writer, has carried on her mother’s legacy by editing and publishing Startle and Illuminate in 2016 which consisted of Shield’s thoughts and advice on writing.
This year, Canadian novelist Susan Swan, as well as a number of other women, have nearly finished creating a new fiction award that only women and non-binary people are eligible for. The literary award has been named after the late writer as “The Carol Shields Prize” due to Shield’s citizenship in Canada and the United States and her prominence in female-written fiction. The other criteria for eligibility to win the prize is that the author must be a citizen of either the United States or Canada and the writing must be in English or translated to English from French or Spanish.