Opinion: The Hidden Imbalance
Are women really treated equally? It helps to compare the advances of global cultures to judge for yourself.
I was born and raised in a country that has its moral backbone in traditional Confucian doctrines. We evaluate women in their domestic life, and respect them, at least on the surface, as “good wives and mothers”.
But society is progressing. The U.S. Congress passed the 19th Amendment to grant women the right to vote in 1920; the first gay woman was elected Prime Minister of Iceland in 2009; and Australians had their first female Prime Minister, too, in 2010. The general direction seems to be moving toward progress; women in society hold a variety of positions of power. However, is that true everywhere in the world?
We all know the answer is no. One perhaps might cite examples in Africa, in the Middle East, and even in some parts of Asia where women are still subordinate to their husbands. More importantly, some of the independent women we see are just wearing the coat of feminism, and internally following their patriarchal impulses. I have surfed the internet and come up with some interesting thoughts. With the development of technology, social media quickly serves as the platform for people to speak their minds. And all of sudden, the ideas weave into a web that connects people in different parts of the world together, particularly about gender equality.
Recently, I’ve noticed the emergence of the feminist movement on a social media site known as Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. A series of horrible events have accelerated the women’s awakening.
The news comes in every day, stories like office leaders sexually harassing their female colleagues, kindergarten teachers sexually assaulting their students, and Didi (the Chinese version of Uber, which actually purchased Uber China gain a monopoly on online rideshare apps) drivers raping and killing their female passengers. Before seeing the comments, I anticipated responses to these crimes would be swift and furious: people should sympathize with victims as if someone from their family suffered the same tragedy. Most public statements were sufficiently sympathetic. They scolded the criminals, criticized the government regulation, and even organized online protests.
But – yes, there is always a but – some comments also condemned the victims for their “exposed” clothing choices, “alluring” social media posts, and the “natural reaction” for men to have sex with women.
Fortunately, these comments were met with angry and just voices. While sympathizing with the unfortunate families, we should also think about the education we have received about gender equality, especially in my country. We educate girls to scream “fire” instead of “rape” for help, since few people will respond to the call for help; we emphasize not going out late at night because of the potential of being harassed; and we promote the knowledge that girls should take care of themselves while neglecting what (if anything) we should tell boys.
Many people feel that KUA is a liberal place; students are free to discuss LGBTQ and gender equality issues. However, there are still some forms of subtle inequality that are worth our attention. For instance, if there are a Boys’ Varsity Soccer and Girls’ Varsity Soccer game playing here at home, somehow the boys’ game will always go first. Moreover, if Pope Field, our only turf field, is available for only one game, the boys’ will have the field. This is more than a coincidence.
Furthermore, people still stereotype that male athletes are better, and many of our male sports teams bring greater crowds. The bias perhaps comes from the level of intensity and physical structure inherent in the national appreciation of male sports teams over female sports teams. However, we should never underestimate the empowerment of women in this field. Though Serena Williams had her controversial “out of control” moment at the U.S. Open Final a while ago, her influence brought attention to equal pay for both genders of athletes, as well as the public’s understanding of how audiences perceive emotion and passion in professional athletes of both genders.
At so many moments, we do choose the right path. However, there are always the little details that we forget, and they still matter. I believe most of us at least understand the importance of gender equality, but occasionally, we do go back to the old view and expect women to be the same as they have been in the past. These little mistakes are not catastrophic, but they could be horrible if we do not correct them—things eventually will go backward.