What do women want? Justice. Equality. Respect. Think we have those? Think again.
Women throughout the world are abused, harassed, raped, kidnapped, maimed, burned, stoned, trafficked, molested, exploited, and abducted on a daily basis. These crimes happen every single day, and in many cases, the criminals are never prosecuted, let alone spend jail time or otherwise pay for their crime.
We may have come a long way, but the following are ten sobering examples of how far we still have to go. So please don’t be afraid to call yourself a feminist. While you might feel feminism is radical, it is in fact nothing more than the radical notion that women are human beings.
1. United States: Clearly, Not Ready For A Female President
As soon as Hilary Clinton announced she was running for the United States Presidency in 2008, misogyny raised its very ugly head. It’s all been said about Hilary Clinton. Her tears are fake, she’s a hag, she’s had a face lift, she is bottom-heavy and poorly dressed. She’s a bitch, a witch, a monster. She should make sandwiches and iron shirts instead of running for Presidency. She looks like everyone’s first wife: men won’t vote for her because she reminds them of their nagging wives. And my favorite: if she becomes President, America will have to deal with PMS and mood swings.
Photo Credit: Ian Ransley
2. Western World: Women In Ads Are Still Heavily Objectified
Sex sells, and in ads, women are almost always the ones to provide the sexual pleasure. They are shown ready and willing regardless of the circumstances. Their body position is often passive, sometimes even date-rape-passive:
They are looking coyly to the side or down, their fingers in their mouth, helpless and passive like little girls:
Photo Credit: Tammy Manet
Men, on the other hand, often look straight at the camera. They are shown as strong and powerful, or doing something active such as engaging in sports.
In addition, Women are often “pieced up” in ads. Instead of seeing the woman, we see her legs, her breasts or her behind. These women are not human beings. They are, literally, pieces of meat.
Photo Credit: Tammy Manet
3. United States: The Scary Statistics Of Rape
One out of every six American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. 9 of every 10 rape victims are female. Rape is a serious problem in the United States today: the United States has the highest rape rate among countries which report such statistics.
Only 16% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to the police. Less than half of those arrested for rape are convicted. 21% of convicted rapists are never sentenced to jail or prison time, and 24% spend an average of less than 11 months behind bars.
4. Africa: Three Quarters Of Young Africans Who Are HIV-Positive Are Women
Photo credit: khym54
Three-quarters of Africans between the ages of 15 and 24 who are HIV-positive are women. Part of the explanation for the staggering rates is biological: because of their reproductive systems, women’s bodies are more susceptible to infection by the human immunodeficiency virus than men’s bodies. Rural women living with HIV in circumstances of poverty in Africa face discrimination in relationships and in their communities because of their gender, HIV status and economic marginalization.
The woman in the photo above contracted HIV from her husband, who also indulges in beating her. Many African women report that they can’t ask their unfaithful husbands to use condoms because that kind of request often results in violence.
5. United States: Income Gap Won’t Budge
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women make only 75.5 cents for every dollar men earn, even accounting for factors such as occupation, industry, race, marital status and job tenure. This pay gap has persisted for the past two decades.
A young woman graduating from college today into a $30,000 starting salary will make $1.2 million less, over her lifetime, than the young man getting his diploma right behind her.
6. Pakistan (and other places): No End In Sight To “Honor” Killings
Photo credit: tinou
Every day, at least three Pakistani women are murdered by their families in the name of family “honor.” Honor killings are perpetrated for a wide range of offenses. Reported cases include marital infidelity, premarital sex, flirting, seeking a divorce, refusing an arranged marriage, and even failing to serve a meal on time. Being a rape victim can also lead to an honor killing.
7. United States: Women Are Paying More For The Same Health Care Coverage
Women pay much more than men of the same age for individual insurance policies providing identical coverage. As a result, a woman’s insurance can cost hundreds of dollars a year more than a man’s.
8. Kenya (and other places): Female Genital Mutilation
Female Genital Mutilation is the removal of part, or all, of the female genitalia. It is practiced throughout the world, but mostly in Africa. Despite being outlawed in 2001 in Kenya, the practice is still widely carried out there.
Female Genital Mutilation is done to control female sexuality. By reducing sexual desire through making the act painful or removing pleasure, society ensures that its women remain faithful to their partners.
9. United States: Women Athletes Are Ignored Unless They Are Used As Sex Objects
Photo credit: David Bunting
Women athletes are underrepresented in all forms of media coverage of sports. Numerous studies have found that female sports are routinely ignored, or given only a fraction of the coverage given to male sports. In some cases, women athletes are presented by the media not as athletes, but as objects of heterosexual desire. The most blatant examples are the Sports Illustrated annual swimsuit issue and the media coverage of women’s beach volleyball.
10. Worldwide: The Feminization Of Poverty
Despite the efforts of feminist movements, women still suffer disproportionately, including in Western countries, leading to what sociologist refer to as the “feminization of poverty,” where two out of every three poor adults are women.
Men often wonder, “What do women want?” I don’t get this question. We want exactly what men want. We want justice, equality and respect. Think we have those? Think again. These are just a few examples, but obviously there are many more. Sure, we’ve made progress, but we still have a long way to go.
Posted for International Women’s Day, 2009.
Sources: World Health Organization, Rainn , UN , US Government Info, The WAGE Project, Vancouver Island University , New York Times , National Geographic News, Global Issues , BlogHer , New York Magazine, Amnesty International, NPR, Women’s eNews, IRIN News.