So, despite years of documented evidence from World Economic Forum (WEF) and World Health Organization (WHO) on the financial and social neglect and abuse of women--including outright murder--that social inequity still exists. The question begging to be answered is, "Why?"
There are decades of documented proof. Legitimate peer-reviewed university studies. Carefully collected research that shows the many aspects of how women are treated and what that means for our mental, physical and fiscal health. So, there is no debate today--in the 21st century--about the truth of misogyny. The only question to ask is why is it being ALLOWED to continue. We don't have to go very far for the answer. If only one segment of the population is dealing with the negative consequences, you must look at the segment that isn't--in this case, it's the individuals who are not being regularly held down and back.
The interesting thing about hegemony (or the prevalent discourse from the dominant social group) is that it influences everyone, including the dominant social group. Most of the men born in the last 50 years were raised in the same social system as any woman born in the last 50 years. When a man balks at the inequities between the sexes, it's because--from his perspective--he hasn't personally experienced it. He's grown up seeing women in the classroom, in the work place, and even being voted into political office. What that man doesn't see is how those women got there. The struggle a woman has that a male peer will never know. Ever.
Attitude is EVERYTHING!
Hegemony is so pervasive that it even affects a woman on levels men wouldn't otherwise consider. Health care is a great example. Medicine is still largely dominated by males. When smart women ask questions, patriarchal or male-dominated discourse uses code words like "difficult" to describe inquisitive, intelligent behavior from women, whereas a man who asks questions would be considered "reasonable" and "educated."
Yes, our psychology (aka our attitude) informs how we perceive ALL forms of communication. If society sees women as "emotional," then when a woman questions a male doctor in any way, she is seen through that lens. Even someone who is educated is prone to the influence of hegemony--men and women alike. Fathers of daughters. Husbands who love their wives. Sons who adore their mothers. Good men who are simply reflecting a dominant social discourse that clearly exists--because the proof of its existence is undeniable, thanks in part to organizations like WEF and WHO.
A male doctor may write in their notes, "Patient is difficult--easily upset and emotional," for a woman who merely asks him a question about her treatment. Once that note is in place, that same woman's future medical treatment and care is jeopardized. She will be seen as "easily upset" and "emotional" by every doctor that treats her in the future. Despite the fact that the female patient is calm, patient and good-humored, all anyone will ever see her as is "difficult," "easily upset," and "emotional."
It's a no-win situation. And very dangerous for women. Especially if you do not live near a major city where you can "escape" one doctor's prejudice. Even just trying to get a medical appointment can be challenging for women. There's only two specialists where you live--one has recorded you as "difficult," and when you attempt to get an appointment with the other, your medical records are accessed and that doctor essentially refuses your care by creating barriers and obstacles--setting an appointment months out in advance, having policies in place that make it impossible to cancel an appointment and reschedule, and, for the win, refusing to see a patient if that patient checks in 10 minutes after the appointment time, despite the fact that the patient has to still wait an average of 30 minutes before being seen by the actual doctor, or even taken into a room by a nurse.
How can a woman maintain her health if--before she even opens her mouth to communicate an issue--the doctor she needs to treat her sees her as a problem? That is, if she can jump through the significant hoops set before her to first get the appointment. That's not to say that men don't have similar issues. But it's very clear that men have a far better chance than women of being heard, and consequently, being healthy, being employed, staying employed, being promoted, and earning quite literally 25%-30% more than any female peer--not just over the course of their lifetime, but every single day.
The solution is a simple one:
Men need to be more mindful of women's social vulnerability. That shouldn't be an issue for any man. The only reason why it hasn't exactly stuck is because the dollar-equivalent of this glaring social inequity between the sexes is in the trillions...as in, trillions of dollars. Greed, and a lust to remain at the top of the proverbial food chain, are the reasons why women are stalked, beaten and killed. Violence against women is actually considered a pandemic by WHO in the 21st century. Things are not getting better for women either--as we attempt to equalize our social, political and financial status, the violence (and lack of response, or inadequate response, to that very violence) is on the rise.
Don't Let Evil Prevail!
Something to think about...and not just for women. Men, too. If any men don't approve of how women are treated by other men, it really is up to men to fix it. Women can't even get adequate health care without prejudice--how then, can the onus of change be on our shoulders alone? We need male advocates who don't want to fuck us in any way, shape or form to step up. This isn't news. Nor is it new. And, every day that a brother sees a sister as a "problem," or a father perpetuates the myth that his daughter is "difficult," or a husband tells people his wife is "crazy," or a son feels "inconvenienced" by his mother--patriarchy wins. Hegemony wins. Injustice wins. Hatred wins. Greed wins. And, evil wins.
In this age of superhero films, we need to stop escaping reality and begin funneling that desire to be superheroic into every day life. Every day actions. Every day language. If you want a better world, do something to get it. And yes, helping women--your own mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, daughters, nieces, wives, and friends--will make the world better.
Has shutting women out made the world a better place? Has keeping us scared and vulnerable created peace? Is it a "safer" world as a result of making women socio-economic hostages???
Apologies for using rhetorical questioning. It's obviously not a better world. Women are not safe in ANY country on the planet. We are continuously, consistently victimized on every level. Unless one is connected to a strong, benevolent male through marriage or by birth, the road to success is nearly impossible. So is getting out of bad marriages, abusive relationships, or employment where you are being harassed. Stalkers are a HUGE problem for women all over the globe. In the States, the Department of Justice lists staggering statistics, like 8/10 women who are stalked are also killed, accounting for 72% of annual femicide. Essentially, nearly 2/3 of the women murdered in America are murdered by a male stalker. Of that number, 60% reported stalking activities to local police 12 months prior to their deaths.
Let that sink in for a moment....
Men have stalkers, too. But the numbers are infinitely smaller, as are the overall risks. And men don't have the other social burdens and hardships women deal with--like getting a job, keeping a job, getting promoted, and, getting raises. Men have better overall health because they have better overall health care. It's easy to be healthy when people treat you with respect, allow you to earn and expect you to evolve. Anyone can seem rational and calm when you're perceived as rational and calm. It's a no-brainer to be stable when you have a good job, make a decent salary, and have the potential for future growth.
Connect the Dots!
You see, if racism exists--and it does--then the same difficulties for those effected by racism also applies to those effected by misogyny. By ageism. By physical ability. By sexual orientation. By religion. There is TREMENDOUS social resistance for ANYONE who is different in one way or another. But for women, we have to deal with all those same prejudices AS WELL AS a pervasive misogyny.
Human beings make it impossible for people who are socially vulnerable (and therefore physically, emotionally, and economically vulnerable) to gain momentum. To be empowered. Independent. And then, society--who causes the initial problem--perceives things like mental illness and suicide as an individual issue when it's anything but an individual issue. The same thing happens to women who speak out against inequity in their job, in their health care, in their marriages, in their relationships, even in how they're treated at the gym. Instead of being perceived as a solution-seeker, a woman who communicates inequities at any level of her life is labeled as "negative." How can any woman then help herself out of whatever the issue is, if society brands her as "inconvenient," "problematic," "difficult," "easily upset," and "emotional"? The only solution for that woman is to leave whatever social situation is creating the ACTUAL negativity. But it's not as simple as that for women. Not when we aren't given the same consideration for jobs. Women who are killed by their stalkers are targets because, in fact, they can't leave. They need their job. Jobs are hard to replace for everyone these days, and women are certainly no exception there. Why, then, is it accepted and acceptable for any human being to have to move hundreds of miles or more to stay safe? Why is it expected that a woman leave her job to stay safe? Where are the laws protecting women's rights?
If you're unfamiliar with anti-stalker legislation, you may need to get familiar. Just because something is "illegal" does not make it stop. Clearly the case for the many, many women killed in the States every year by a man. Not because she deserved it. Not because she did anything to warrant that kind of response. And, not because she "let it happen." The reason those women died (and will continue to die at the hands of predatory men) is because there are NO ADEQUATE LAWS to truly protect a woman. Why not make it impossible for an employer to fire a woman who has to temporarily leave to protect herself? Why not make it easier to question suspects? Assign cameras and police detail immediately--and not after eight months of break-ins, death-threats, and a piece of your hair being cut off in your sleep.
Honestly, these are EASY problems to fix...there are PLENTY of solutions. However, there is an unwillingness to implement said-solutions on the part of men-not just male politicians or policemen. It's pretty much across the board. Similar to when a woman tries to get justice for rape, men will hold up her thong and call it consent, as was recently in the news in Ireland. Name one court case where a man's undergarments were even a factor? It wouldn't be brought up if the victim were male. Nor has anyone ever made any legislation that prevents men from getting vasectomies or taking Viagra. There's no law that requires men wear a condom either. There's nothing that legislate's male bodies. American health insurance companies do not deem birth control as "medically necessary" for women, but medication like Viagra is covered. Condoms are free and readily available! They're even stocked in the bathrooms designated for men in bars and pubs--but not always in the women's restrooms.
Why? Because, every word I have written here is the truth. That's why.
Living Your Best Life is Still Possible!
I want people to live their best lives. I've donated my time, resources, and talents to encourage others all over the globe through this very blog for nine years because I truly believe that "better" is possible. I want to give people hope. To show them that having faith in the power of positivity can (and will!) make a difference in their lives. If a person--however beset by social encumberments--manages to maintain their dignity and character, that individual will be victorious. But, it will not be easy if you are a woman--on any level that requires another human being to accept you and help you and give you opportunities. It will not be easy if you are disabled. It will not be easy if you are over 40. It will not be easy if your skin tone is anything but "white." It will not be easy if you are not Christian. It will not be easy if you are deaf. It will not be easy if you are blind. It will not be easy if you are gay. It will not be easy if you are trans And, if you have any of those "differences" AND you're a woman, you have to work not twice as hard, not ten times as hard--but more akin to 100-times as hard as a male peer to achieve even a fraction of that peer's same success.
Working at that level and maintaining social ties is next to impossible. Working at that level and maintaining your health is equally difficult. Working at that level and having a family, running a home and nurturing a committed relationship--highly improbable. That's where physical and mental illness creep in. Corporate culture punishes the sick. Blames the victim. And that only adds to the overall stress, particularly for women--many of whom aren't considered for jobs or promotions during child-bearing years. So, when a woman is young enough to have a child, she's not given a fair shake. When she's surpassed her child-bearing years, she's not considered either. And, I haven't even addressed the socio-political and socio-economic need to stay young and beautiful for women--and all the costs therein--costs that men do not have to incur to remain relevant and be taken seriously. More unspoken inequities.
The cost of telling the truth, like I am here today? Well, let's just say I have not been offered a full-time job in nearly a decade. I've gotten LOTS of interviews. I've been brought to many campuses. Had my travel paid for. Offered "backdoor" positions--like, maybe if you work for us at half salary for a year and we like you, you can get promoted to full time. But my best success has been through my work as a contractor--whether as a speaker, or a writer and editor. I get offered jobs that way, but I'm still asked to work for free, or, at a greatly reduced rate. And then, when the bill is sent, it isn't paid or I have to threaten to sue to get paid. Hire a lawyer for $500 to write a letter to get a check for $250...I mean, this just doesn't happen to men in my position. If I were a man, I'd be celebrated for what I'm doing. Congratulated. Universities would contact me--not the other way around. I'd be offered writer-in-residence positions, given more opportunities to speak, and, I guarantee there would be no memory of a CFO asking me to sit on his lap so he could shove cash into my cleavage--when I said no to that same CFO, he lobbied for me to be let go, saying I, "made too much money," when I had worked for the company for free for a full year in order to get the actual job.
Unreal. And yet, it's the truth.
If a woman asked for a ROTH IRA in her name for the dollar-amount a man would spend on her Christmas gift, how do you think the man would react? Buying a pair of expensive earrings is acceptable because when the woman wears it, the man gets credit. It's a visible sign of wealth. Women that can't afford to buy themselves that jewelry can't afford it because of that very mentality. Instead of spending $2,000-$30,000 on an engagement ring to put on a woman's finger, a man should use that money as a down payment on a piece of real estate in that woman's name. Or at least an investment account. Give her a real future. Invest in more than a bauble that she can never sell for the amount you paid for it. The only person who benefits from a woman wearing a diamond ring is the man who gave it to her. He gets the ego strokes. He gets exclusivity. He gets to be congratulated as a "good guy." She gets a trinket if she promises to devote herself to a man--when, it really should be the other way around simply because, men already have the advantage.
Men are physically stronger, bigger, and have social and economic advantages women don't. When women wait for a ring or ask for a ring, it's actually feeding into a male-oriented social and financial system that hurts women. Marriage doesn't have to hurt women, but it's a rare man who will promise to give a woman 50% of his assets if he cheats in a contract before marriage. Or, even after. There is also a post-nuptial agreement. If a woman (already financially disadvantaged from her husband as a result of her gender) suddenly writes a best-seller or patents a product or enters into a movie rights deal, she can ask her husband to sign a post-nup, agreeing to not go after whatever proceeds the woman makes from her creative efforts. How often do you think that kind of agreement is accepted by the man? Men created the pre-nup because of "gold-diggers," but won't sign the post-nup because, in fact, it is men who are the greedy bitches in society...men are the ones who quite literally reap the benefits of women earning less. To the tune of trillions. Trillions! Those trillions belong to the women who do 75% of the free labor world-wide, according to WEF. To the girls who have to choke on a boss's cock to keep her job at 10%-30% less pay than her male peers. To the ladies who are fired by men because they demanded equal pay or equal rights or accommodations while pregnant.
Are you seeing a pattern? Whether you see it or not, the struggle is real for women. And yes, you'll meet women who claim to have never had an issue with earning, who believe they were treated equally...and who also claim to have never dealt with sexual harassment or assault. Again, being connected to a benevolent male is the likely reason they've been spared what billions of other women haven't. Every woman I've ever met (and some men, too) have been sexually assaulted, abused and/or harassed by a man during the course of their lifetime. I really don't know how men expect women to continue to go on like this. To be there for you, have your kids, let you enter us, yet...not want to actually help us financially outside of the maid, whore and mother roles we fulfill for you. Sex isn't exciting? The woman has to get some lingerie, be willing to get tied up or down, handcuffed, whipped, spanked...and hey, it's all really fun, but look at what that "fun" represents? Your man is turned on by you being submissive. Your man gets excited when you give him permission to hit you, hurt you, be rough with you--play "rape" with you. Ouch.
Think Like a Queen!
It took me decades to wrap my brain around the fact that, when I gave men what they wanted on any level, I'd be less appreciated, less respected, less valued, and generally, deprioritized. Queen Elizabeth I ruled England for an unprecedented 45 years because she never married nor had any public relationships with men. She hid behind a mask of virginity a la the Church to keep the men around her in check. It was the only way for her to keep her power in the 16th century, and it's the only way for women to reclaim theirs in the 21st century. No, it shouldn't be that way. And, there are no easy answers on how to create change outside of yourself. But if you're a woman reading this and you've lived through 40 or more years of your life, you know that what I'm saying is true. You've lived it, too. You may not want to talk about it--I certainly don't. And, I may eventually remove this essay because it will negatively impact my already limited future earnings and employment opportunities. But if even one person reads this and feels less alone, or has an epiphany moment, or decides to help a pregnant colleague keep her job, or asks the woman he loves to marry him with real estate instead of a ring, or recognizes a sister for the woman she is despite her visible and invisible struggles, it's worth the risk.
One day, women will not be the minority of political seat holders. One day, women will get equal jobs, salaries, promotions, and raises. One day, misogynistic rhetoric will not be used in the medical records of female patients. One day, women will be able to go anywhere in the world and feel safe. Walk at night and feel safe. Live alone and feel safe. It will happen.