The Historic Totem Pole of a Woman’s Worth

The story begins with a historical perspective on how female African American slaves were treated in America’s past. The basic gist is that these women were slaves first, and then women/ mothers/ wives second. All slaves worked, regardless of their gender.

What could bring them back to their gender in a slave owner’s eyes would be the owner’s sexual onslaught onto the woman. This rape was yet another despicable form of control. Pregnant slaves, as well as those who had recently given birth, were to constantly work in the fields at the same level as any man.

While a slave woman was valued as a reproductive machine, that capability still did not give her preferential treatment. The black female slave was at the very bottom of society. Even her gender was another way to lower her already abysmal place in life.

Even today, being black or being a woman makes a person less likely to succeed. The preferential odds are against individuals who are not white or male.

There is now a classic psychological experiment: who is most employable? When a job is posted and many people apply, white men are the most likely to be hired, then Asian men, then Hispanic men, and then black men.  A white woman is on the same ranking employability level as a Hispanic or black man. Lastly comes the black woman, below all the rest. Having a vagina has always been a handicap.

This is no surprise, considering that black men gained the right to vote with the 15th Amendment- while women of every race waited until the 19th Amendment.

Truly, historically women in America were generally considered lesser beings from every angle. We are still today assessing the female’s place in our society. Hopefully, there will eventually be some consensus on a woman being equal in rights to a man. Or those who aren’t of Caucasian, European descent being employable. Or gay people being equal to straight people. Or not having to use any label to determine your life’s course.

If the American dream is to use hard work and determination in order to climb and succeed, then the dream would be much more plausible without weighted labels. As Gaga says, we were born this way, so make like musical Glee and reach for the stars.

Or something less cheesy sounding.



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Sexism in Your Friendly Neighborhood Restaurant

I have been a waitress for the past six years. It is part of my identity, along with student, social worker, and friend. In restaurants, I’ve seen a lot happen. The clientele is a snapshot of the general population, and the employees are even more colorful. This isn’t the Ryan Reynolds movie Waiting levels of ridiculousness, but it sure is close.

I feel as if I’m betraying my people in sharing these experiences. For instance, one restaurant I worked in would only hire female servers and male cooks. Whenever my female friends were looking for a job, I’d have to tell them to dress up cute so the owner would notice and hire her. If she didn’t get hired, then she was left feeling as if she wasn’t attractive enough for the job. We are not at Hooters where this sort of nonsense is seemingly ok.

When my male friends wanted a job, I’d have to tell them that they wouldn’t be allowed to serve, which positively makes better money than cooking. “Women in the front, men in the back.” We easily forget about gender discrimination against men. It still exists. Why does it have to matter, what the gender is of the person cooking your food or carrying your wings?

Other forms of discrimination existed, such as an unmarried female server becoming pregnant and no was longer given hours. After all, this is a family friendly restaurant, and the managers don’t want their place to be tarnished with sin.

Prejudice and discrimination seem to exist everywhere. Whether you are a woman being paid 1/4 less than your male counterparts, a person being hired for their looks that give the  workplace the look management is seeking, or a person unable to break into a job that breaks common gender roles- you are being discriminated against.

We tend to cite the business world for gender discrimination. It still occurs elsewhere, at lower pay levels and in different forms. I felt guilty to be a representation of a workplace that so blatantly discriminates, but not enough to leave the job. There is such an easy parallel drawn to feminism’s fight of equality. How can I expect men to fight for gender equality rights, if I will not fight for theirs?



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So Sexist It’s Comical

 

Gender roles are clearly established when it comes to children’s toys and clothing; blue for boys, pink for girls, GI Joe for Jack, Barbie for Jill. But, there had been an influx of children declaring this is not fair! There was the little girl throwing a tantrum about the colors in the toy aisle, then there was a little girl writing to Hasboro about the discrepancy in female characters in the game Guess Who, the dad who stood up for his three-year-old son’s right to wear a dress like his sister. However, big business isn’t taking notice.

Marvel Comics is having a big year. The Avengers II is coming out, Iron Man III, huge influx in interest in comics—both male and female. It’s only natural that they would want to capitalize on this. Marvel has been ahead of the social curve—usually. They had the first comic hero gay wedding, they created a deaf superhero so that a little boy would feel good about his hearing aid–  I’m a huge Marvel fan…but they screwed the pooch on this one.

The shirts for the Avengers franchise have “boys and girls” versions. The boy version is blue and says “Be A Hero”. How cute is that? I can picture my little nephew running around in that pretending to be The Hulk or Captain America. You know what I can’t see? I can’t see my niece running around in her version of the shit that says, “I Need A Hero”. That’s right, my niece can run around screaming like a damsel in distress while my nephew can run up and save her—clearly the girl always needs saving. Nonsense! Marvel…why? Why did you have to do this? We had such a good thing going! And why is the girl’s shirt eight dollars more expensive? Not only do I need a hero I need to pay more to declare it? Screw you! I’m frugal and therefore I am the hero of my bank account…I don’t need a hero I am a hero!

Strike one Marvel…you’ve got two more—don’t screw it up.



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Gender Role Guess Who

photo of guess who gender inequality picutures
 

Dear Hasbro,

My name is R______. I am six years old. I think it’s not fair to only have 5 girls in Guess Who and 19 boys. It is not only boys who are important, girls are important too. If grown ups get into thinking that girls are not important they won’t give little girls much care.

Also if girls want to be a girl in Guess Who they’ll always lose against a boy, and it will be harder for them to win. I am cross about that and if you don’t fix it soon, my mum could throw Guess Who out.

My mum typed this message but I told her what to say. 

Dear R___,

Thank you for your email. Please find below an explanation which I hope your mummy will be able to explain to you.

 Guess Who? is a guessing game based on a numerical equation.  If you take a look at the characters in the game, you will notice that there are five of any given characteristics.  The idea of the game is, that by process of elimination, you narrow down who it isn’t, thus determining who it is.  The game is not weighted in favour of any particular character, male or female.  Another aspect of the game is to draw attention away from using gender or ethnicity as the focal point, and to concentrate on those things that we all have in common, rather than focus on our differences.

 We hope this information is of help to you.

 May we thank you for contacting Hasbro and if we can be of any further assistance, either now or in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us again.

 Kind Regards,

 ASK HASBRO

Hasbro UK Ltd

00800 22427276

www.hasbro.co.uk

www.facebook.com/hasbrouk

http://twitter.com/hasbrouk

www.mymonopoly.com

These are two letters from an exchange between a six-year-old girl and a multi-million dollar corporation. The next set of letters consists of the six-year-old’s mother explaining to a corporation that this is not how you talk to a child. The corporation responds with a more suitable letter, but still doesn’t really answer the question at hand.

The question at hand is why, in the game of Guess Who, are there only five female characters and nineteen male characters? The mother, in her response to Hasbro, points out that being female is not a “characteristic” to be used as part of a “numerical equation”. Hasbro responded by simplifying their language and saying she could go online and print new characters to play with. If you can print more female characters … doesn’t that mean adding more female characters wouldn’t throw off the numeral equation?  Since you are condoning this behavior?

The bottom line is Guess Who is kind of sexist and a six-year-old pointed it out. Hasbro, a company that makes its living on educated and entertaining children, did a really terrible job explaining themselves to their target audience. I mean, “numerical equation”? I call bullshit. It’s a guessing game. There’s no numerical equation; it’s Guess Who! GUESS!

This has always been a problem and kids have always noticed it, and now, in the world of social media, it’s just heard more. Remember the little girl that freaked out in the toy aisle about all the blue toys vs. pink toys? Gender equality in kids’ toys has never existed and kids find ways around it. I played with G.I. Joes and my father’s collectible army models and an Elvis doll. My nephew? He likes to play with barbies.

The short answer to all of this is “You can’t put kid in a box or mold them to what you want them to be; they are smart and they will figure it out, and because they don’t have a filter they will call you on your shit.” Next time you play a game of Guess Who, stick it to the man and play around with gender roles. Take a shot choosing a male if you’re a girl and vice versa. Take that Hasbro! You can’t tell us who we can be!



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