In the US we don’t often talk about how women are not allowed the same education as men. While there is a conversation to be had about it, the sort of disparity we see in the US is nothing compared to what we see around the rest of the world. In July of 2017 the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a report that outlined some of the gender discrimination happening within education around the world.
Their World then released a summary article later that month which highlighted and quoted some of the key reasons discussed in OHCHR’s report we are seeing such wide gaps between boys and girls around the world. Some of the primary offenders are: gender discrimination and the belief that girls do not need an education because that is not where their value lies, discriminatory legislation which values men’s education over women’s and does not cater to the different needs of either (such as not providing alternative learning methods to pregnant girls or new mothers), girls are more likely to drop out which makes the cost of an education expensive to families in poverty, if the school is farther away from their homes they are less likely to attend because their movements tend to be more restricted than boys’, and girls are more likely to be subjected to gender-based violence perpertated by male students, teachers, and staff.
When I walk into nearly any store, I can’t help but gravitate towards the toy section. This may be because I am an aunt of two adorable kids whom I love to spoil, and it may also be because I am very in touch with my inner child. But when I step into that laughter filled area, I see a clear divide between what toys are deemed suitable for girls and which toys are considered appropriate for boys. Now, I want you to think of yourself in my position, imagine how I find myself standing between the two isles noting the clear difference between them. To the one side my eyes are assaulted with every shade of pink imaginable with spots of purple and soft greens. On the other side I find stark blacks and greys, bold blues and dark greens. On one side is soft fabrics, on the other hard metals. To my left I will find a wide array of kitchen sets and dolls, princess dresses and ponies. On the opposite side of the isle is cars and tool sets, Legos and plastic guns. On one side hangs a sign labeled ‘Girl Toys’ on the other a sign reading ‘Boy Toys’. And it’s not just in physical stores, even on major retailers’ websites there is a clean split between girl and boy toys with no option of toys for all. But why is this the case? Has it always been this way, or can we fix it? Is this the way it should be, or is the separation harmful for both girls and boys?
Contrary to many beliefs, the idea of splitting toys across gender lines is actually a fairly new concept. As recently as the 1970’s, a mere 50 years ago, the idea of having toys separated into boys’ and girls’ sections would have been ludicrous. According to Elizabeth Sweet, an assistant professor of psychology at SJSU, “In the Sears catalog ads from 1975, less than 2 percent of toys were explicitly marketed to either boys or girls”. In recent history, most toys could be found in a wide variety of bright and bold colors such as red, blue, yellow, and green. They were also advertised for all kids, showing both boys and girls playing together on the box. Toys were marketed not based on the gender of the kids playing with it, but what the toy could teach all children. Toys were separated within a single aisle based on whether they helped children develop social skills, fine motor skills, spacial skills, or emotional skills, attributes that are necessary for all children. In fact, the sorting of toys into gendered aisles didn’t become a thing till the 80’s and wasn’t as clear and prevailing of a split until the 90’s. So, the divide between girls’ and boys’ toys hasn’t always existed, but is it really a bad thing?
Studies have shown that the divide between toys can actually be very detrimental to young children. One of the primary ways that this is the case is due to the effect that marketing can have on kid’s interests. What is being advertised for kids to play with teaches them what is acceptable for them to be interested in. In a study completed by NPR, it was discovered that when computers were first released they were highly marketed towards boys, which resulted in a great decrease of women in fields like coding. This is because it was promoted that liking computers was for boys, so young girls were pushed away from being interested in going into computer jobs. This can also be seen on the reverse, where boys are pushed away from more ‘feminine’ jobs, such as early childhood teaching and cooking, due to toys like kitchen sets and baby dolls being marketed to girls. But the way in which interests develop isn’t the only way that dividing up the sections is harmful to kids. Many toys are designed to specifically target a certain attribute or skill. Professor Judith Elaine Blakemore at Indiana University said in an interview with the NAEYC that “moderately masculine toys have many positive qualities (spatial skills, science, building things, etc.) […] it is the same for some moderately feminine toys (nurturance, care for infants, developing skills in cooking and housework).” For example, Legos help young children develop fine motor skills, and for quite a while there was no girl equivalent to Legos to help young ladies develop these skills.
But what can we do about it? Many organizations are pushing for toy companies and sellers to stop dividing and marketing toys based on gender; the Let Toys Be Toys movement is one of these groups. They are a British group pushing for “the toy and publishing industries to stop limiting children’s interests by promoting some toys and books as only suitable for girls, and others only for boys.” On their website they give updates on what companies are doing to fix this problem, as well as giving recommendations of toys for every age group regardless of marketed gender. And many retailers themselves are working towards having gender neutral, or at least gender equal, marketing. This can be seen in Hasbro’s most recent string of commercials for their Nerf line, where both girls and boys are shown using their toys with no clear color divide, and Kirkbi, the owners of Legos, who have started promoting a wider variation of Legos for girls and Legos for all kids. The final thing that can be done, as consumers, is to look past the gender labels when shopping for toys. Ask the kid what they are interested in and shop based on what the toy can teach them. Don’t be confined to the rigid pink and blue, play kitchen and toy tool set, girl and boy divide. My nephew loves the color purple and my niece wants to grow up to be just like Bob the builder. Why should they be limited to only blue toys and only dolls?
Women are a quarter of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) work-force population in the Unites States. Recently the number of women in STEM has been declining. Why is this happening? A study conducted asking men and women if they thought they were intelligent enough to work in a STEM field. Only 40 percent of women were confident in pursuing a STEM career compared to 60 percent of men. Where is this psychological effect coming from? Why do women believe they are not intelligent enough to pursue a future in a STEM field?
Women need to begin to believe in themselves again. We can do this by looking up to our role models. Positive strong female role models are very important for a girl contemplating pursuing a STEM field. If she sees an intelligent, capable, woman handling a career in STEM, then hopefully that will encourage her to continue to make future steps into becoming a woman in STEM. My cousin, Jacqueline Clow, is a bright young woman who pursued a career in STEM, knowing fully well the baggage that comes with it. Continue reading “Why Aren’t More Women In STEM?”→
She is perched at the top of a steep, concrete step, the curve of her calf accentuated by the strain of her pose. There are her legs, tan and endless; a flip of a sleek ponytail; the seductive pucker of her lips as she peeks over her shoulder and leers at the camera; the strip of her flat belly, framed by her tight black crop top and the Daisy Dukes clinging to her waist; then, finally, her perfect butt, like two crescent suns emerging from the clouds of denim.
I am almost salivating, wanting to shout, “Damn, look at her butt!” but I keep my thoughts to myself.
By Sierra Rothermich A son and his father are in a horrible car accident. The father dies on impact and the son is rushed to the hospital with severe injuries. The surgeon looks at the son when he arrives at the hospital and says “I can’t operate on him, he’s my son.”
I had just started my junior year of high school. It was my first year in a public school, for I had been practically raised in a private Christian school. Due to the fact that I went to a private school, I had always worn school uniforms. Therefore, I didn’t know what was “acceptable clothing” to wear at public schools. I had worn a tank top, ripped jeans, and flip flops. It was nothing I would consider “sexy.” I didn’t think it was distracting. However, the campus security stopped me on my way to class. They took me to their office and said that the tank top was a violation of dress code and I had the option to: (1) call a parent and wait for them to bring me something else to wear, (2) spend the rest of the day in their office, or (3) have a parent take me home. That didn’t seem fair to me. My education was being inhibited because my shoulders were “too distracting” to the men in my classes.
Ever since then, the question haunts me…
Why is there a double standard between males and females when it comes to dress code?
Sexual Assault is scary and unfortunately very real in every community across the United States. But it’s annoying when people categorize a certain group to be the only ones that commit these horrible acts. For example, “Mexican are rapists.” Which is not true for all Mexicans. Although comments like these offend people like me, who proudly identifies with being Mexican-American, we (News Flash!) also are affected by sexual assault. I notice too that it is extremely hard for these stereotypes to be broken when people with power have enforced such ideas onto a certain group. Among the many struggles the Latino community faces, rape and assault happen to be one of them.
In the Latino community, it is very common for men to praise other men when they have been with many women. So, this builds the self-esteem of these men when they harass a woman. When a woman does not desire to be with that man, one common thing I have heard is, “She is playing hard to get. She knows she likes it when I bother her!” Hence the terminology, Rape Culture! In an online article, I read about the way rape culture is a “Militarized Culture.” A form of oppression that is used as a weapon to degrade mostly women and it is also the notion that only certain people get raped, because of the way they dress and the way they act. In addition, Rape Culture includes not acknowledging that the men that rape are rapists.
I vaguely remember what I was doing at that age. And I remember experiences in which I felt inferior to men, thinking as a young girl that I was not capable of certain tasks just because I was a girl. Society’s ideals can be cruel. Especially when you are told that if you do something a man does, you are not “acting like a lady.”
“How might your life be different if you were a boy (or a boy instead of a girl)?”
Their responses were shocking. However, they were answers I was expecting. Although many were positive, some were really sad to read. These children were interviewed from all different parts of the world by National Geographic.
Before we can talk about the resources of Planned Parenthood, I think it is important to understand the history of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood started at a time when sex education and birth control was not permitted in the USA. A woman by the name of Margaret Sanger would soon change all that. She was raised in Corning, New York in 1916. After seeing her mother suffer from seven miscarriages, Margaret Sanger decided to study birth control. She later traveled to Europe where she would learn about not only birth control but sex education. As a huge advocate for Women’s rights, she would soon see restrictions from opponents.
Her first birth control clinic was shut down by police. (However, the clinic was still able to offer information about birth control.) Margaret Sanger spent 30 days in jail for refusing to pay the fine. This experience led her to travel the country and talk about birth control. Eventually, two organizations named Birth Control Clinical Bureau and American Birth Control League, joined to become Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A 1936 court ruling established that birth control and the information given about it would not be seen as immoral. This was one of many barriers birth control and its education has broken through to reach the public prominence it has today.
What are the resources of Planned Parenthood?
When looking at the website of Planned Parenthood, I found it to have easy to find tabs and info for women or anyone wanting resources. Topics cover: Pregnancy Prevention, to Health and Wellness, Sex and Relationships, and Sexually Transmitted
Infections (STDs). Additionally, there are guides for high school students and information about sex education. All this I believe is vital to not only women but men as well. In Idaho, there are three centers of Planned Parenthood: Boise Health Center, Meridian Health Center, and Twin Falls Health Center. Therefore, if you wanted to go to one in Idaho from Moscow, it would be about a six-hour drive. That is a long distance. Luckily, there is one across the border in Pullman, Washington.
Feminism? What is the significance or meaning of that word?
When searching different sites, I found many definitions.
“the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.”
“Feminism used to be about women getting the same rights as men, such as the right to vote and equal pay at work. Now feminism is a movement full of women who seem to think that their ability to push a baby out of their v***** titles them to bigger and better everything.”
“the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes and organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests”
“A feminist is someone who supports equal rights for women. If your brother objects strongly to women being paid less than men for doing the same job, he’s probably a feminist.”
A word that holds a lot of controversy. Wow. No wonder many people can either be in favor or against feminism based on these definitions. When I asked myself, “How do I define feminism?” I tried to find the right response that makes sense to me. I put a lot of thought into it and here is my response. A while back I saw a picture on Facebook about fairness. Link here…
Equity vs. Equality!
There is a huge difference. For example, Equality is about everyone being fair and being treated fairly. While Equity is about equipping people with the same resources to have the same shot at something. If everyone were treated the same (for example, in this picture boy number three would not be able to see the game. While in the second picture, boy number two and three were given the resources to be able to see the game like the first boy.) Applying it to Feminism, it’s not about being treated better it’s being giving the same resources to be able to succeed in life, workforce, education. When women do succeed it’s not celebrated. Most treat it as if it were not possible.
I asked a few of my friends what their definitions of feminism are. These were their responses:
“I define Feminism as equal pay in the workforce, no matter the gender.”
“Much more than women getting paid equal it’s also about bringing up everything that is wrong with society. Talking about issues that people feel uncomfortable talking about and taking a broader aspect.”
“Having equality and equity between all genders. Not just men having power but respecting and realizing that women can too.”
“Feminism is asking for equity in human rights. Nothing more. Men can be allies to the movement, so in a way, men can be Feminists.”
“Feminism is women being able to make decisions over issues that affect women and be treated socially equal to men.”