Persistence of Gender Inequality
Uploaded by bulldawg on Oct 27, 2011
This essay discusses the types of gender inequality that persist in our society, and several ways to combat it.
People working for civil rights are often asked why blacks don’t just move on; isn’t 140 years long enough to get over slavery? Women face the same argument: isn’t 50 years of progress enough to make the feminists happy? The answer in both cases is no, it’s not enough. Blacks may have been freed, but freedom without opportunity is useless, and whites did not accept them. Even today, many blacks are still very far from being considered equals.
Women have made strides, but equality continues to elude them as well. And in both cases, racism and sexism have gone underground, where they continue to thrive.
This paper looks at the persistence of gender inequality, and the trends being implemented towards equality.
In their article entitled “Subtle and Covert Forms of Discrimination,” Nijole Benokraitis and Joe Feagin describe examples of the types of gender inequality and discrimination we find throughout our contemporary culture. Some of the discrimination—much of it, in fact—is unconscious, so deeply ingrained in us that it requires a true effort to change our thinking. But other examples show that there are those who deliberately set out to “sabotage” women; a disheartening and depressing commentary on today’s society.
Subtle discrimination manifests itself as “condescending chivalry” and “benevolent exploitation.” The first is the type of action that is usually seen as protective and paternalistic, but in reality makes women seem weak and helpless, and in need of close supervision. Such chivalrous actions as opening doors, carrying packages, and ordering for the woman in a restaurant are examples of this kind of subtle but damaging discrimination.
Other examples include using pet names for women—all women. The use of terms such as the “little lady” is common (along with “babe,” “honey” etc.), as are remarks such as “don’t worry your pretty little head about it.” They are so ingrained in our culture that we hardly even react to them any longer, but we should, because they are demeaning and ugly. Calling a woman by anything other than her name, in the form she prefers to have it used (Mrs., Ms., Dr., Sue) is a subtle form of discrimination. First, it diminishes her; when a term like “little lady” is used, it...