Patriarchy is Alive and Well

Good news feminists – patriarchy is officially over!  At least that’s what Hanna Rosin argues in her article entitled, The Patriarchy is Dead.  Unfortunately, it seems that the ‘new American matriarchy’ that she describes in this piece is not an accurate description of the average woman’s experience.  By saying that patriarchy is a problem of the past, Rosin is actually hurting the efforts of women who are working to achieve real gender equality.

In my eyes, Hanna Rosin’s denial of the existence of patriarchy proves how essential feminist discussion is.  As I mention in my own feminist manifesto, the sexism that persists today can be difficult to recognize because it’s getting more subtle.  No longer can companies post ‘women need not apply’ on job postings, but women are still passed over for positions because they are perceived as less dedicated to the job or wouldn’t fit into the boy’s club atmosphere.  Growing up in a patriarchal society makes us accept gender roles and expectations as the norm, so feminists need to question those norms to recognize when those gender roles are hurtful to women.

Rosin’s argument seems flawed because she views women’s issues through the lens of her own experience, which I would not say is a reflection of society as a whole.  In this article, she explains how her decision to work fewer hours after having a child was solely motivated by her desire to spend time with her children, not because she was pressured by her husband or because she felt she was fulfilling a duty.  While I am happy that Ms. Rosin was able to make an empowered choice in that moment of her life, this is not the case for all women.  Many women feel pressure from their employers who assume their dedication to their jobs to decrease, while others feel pressure from their families to raise their children a certain way.  Rosin admits that this decision was extremely difficult for her, a complicated and confusing time in her life that led her to sink into a ‘terrible depression’.  Her struggle demonstrates the problem –  achieving a work-life balance is a still a challenge for women, and only for women.  Men are rarely torn between furthering their career and fulfilling familial and societal expectations.  Until women have this same freedom, feminists need to continue talking about it.

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Happy Women’s Equality Day!

The test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of your chromosomes. – Bella Abzug

Photo credit: http://www.womenwhochangedamerica.org/profile/bella-abzug/

Although it seems a little premature to celebrate Women’s Equality Day since gender equality has not yet been achieved, this day is a chance to recognize the great women who fought for the rights that all women enjoy today.  To celebrate this occasion, I decided to do a little research about Bella Abzug, the incredible woman who is responsible for this national holiday.

Nicknamed “Battling Bella” for her strong personality and willingness to fight tirelessly for equality, Bella Abzug was a lawyer, congresswoman and feminist activist.  After being denied admittance to Harvard because they did not accept women, she earned her law degree at Columbia.  She went on to serve three terms as a Congresswoman for New York, a position that allowed her to advocate for women’s rights.  She played an important role in the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, Title IX and the Equal Credit Oppotunity Act, as well as the creation of this holiday.

Bella was known for her large hats and even larger personality.  Her hats became an icon of the women’s liberation movement, but they were actually another one of Bella’s ways of fighting against patriarchal society.  Bella explained, “I began wearing hats as a young lawyer because it helped me to establish my professional identity. Before that, whenever I was at a meeting, someone would ask me to get coffee”.

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A Female Mayor of Paris – Oui, bien sur!

Photo of Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (left) and Anne Hidalgo (right) - Photo from Jezebel.com

Photo of Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (left) and Anne Hidalgo (right) – Photo from Jezebel.com

For the first time in the city’s 2000 year history, Paris will have a female mayor in 2014! The two most prominent political parties have announced their candidates for the mayoral race, and both parties selected female politicians to represent their parties in this important election. These two women are not only vying for the highly respected position of mayor of Paris, but they are also battling it to for a place in history as the first female mayor of Paris. The significance of this election is not lost on candidate Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who recognizes the profound impact that this election will have on women in french politics.

Being the first female mayor of Paris will be a big symbol and a very positive sign for women who wanted to go into politics but who daren’t go into it in the past. Paris is ready for such a change and I’m sure that France could one day elect a woman as president.

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Feminist History Lesson: August 18, 1920

opposed_suffrage

On August 18, 1920, ninety-three years ago today, the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified.  This amendment stated,

“the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex”.

This landmark decision ended the 70 year fight for universal suffrage which began in 1848 with the Seneca Falls Convention.   The amendment, drafted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, was proposed in 1878, but it was 41 years later that Congress finally submitted the amendment for ratification.

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A Little Hope for the Future

This week, Texas lawmakers passed a law that will force all but five of the state’s abortion clinics to close, severely restricting women’s reproductive freedom and ability to exercise their constitutional rights.  Despite the protests of thousands of women nationwide and a heroic filibuster by Wendy Davis, the Texas legislature is going through with this unnecessary law and will undo years of progress in the fight for gender equality.

Also, George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the murder of Trayvon Martin.  Although it seems that the jury made the right decision legally (the prosecution was not able to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt), the country does not believe that justice has been served.  No matter how you feel about this verdict, the case raises some serious questions about racial equality and the fairness of Florida law.  Would Zimmerman have reacted differently if Trayvon were white?  Would the jury have been so sympathetic towards Zimmerman is he were black?  How can we be sure that our racial biases are not affecting our justice system?

If you’re like me, you’re probably frustrated that in 2013 we are still battling the same issues that our grandparents dealt with. Despite the enormous progress that has been made, our lives are still in many ways determined by our race and gender.  Women are still fighting for their right to reproductive autonomy and a young black boy in a hoodie is still mistaken for a criminal. When will racial and gender inequality FINALLY be problems of the past?  Despite these frustrating developments, I found two great videos this week that helped restore my hope for the future.  Today’s world may still be divided by race and gender, but I believe that the next generation will have a different outlook.

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Thank you, Wendy Davis!

“I’m rising on the floor today to humbly give voice to thousands of Texans who are being ignored”

Wendy Davis

In reality, Wendy Davis did much more than that – she stood up for women all across the country and proved that we will not sit idly by while state legislatures take away our constitutional rights. Wendy Davis is a democratic senator who spoke for 10 hours and 45 minutes on Monday to prevent the Texas state legislature from passing SB 537, a bill that would severely restrict abortion access. Her filibuster successfully prevented the legislature from approving the bill before their midnight deadline.

SB 537, if successful, would have severe consequences for women’s reproductive freedom. According to Pro-Choice Texas, this bill would ban all abortions after 20-weeks of pregnancy, one of the strictest restrictions in the country. Also, it would require that every abortion care facility comply with the standards of an “ambulatory surgical center”, an expensive requirement that would force all but five abortion clinics in the state of Texas to close. That means that some Texans would have to drive hundreds of miles to get to their nearest provider, a ridiculous and unnecessary burden.

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Inspirational Woman of the Week: Nicole Pullen-Ross

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the Drexel Women in Business – May Tea featuring keynote speaker Nicole Pullen-Ross. The event brought together women from a variety of backgrounds and majors to discuss how to be successful in business. The group shared some similar concerns including how to find an effective work life balance, how to be taken seriously and how to move up the corporate ladder.

After earning an undergrad degree in accounting from Hampton University, Nicole Pullen-Ross started her career at JPMorgan doing financial reporting and analysis. She later went on to receive an MBA at Columbia University and is currently the Managing Director at Goldman Sachs. She leads their Private Wealth Management team for the entire Mid-Atlantic Region, a team responsible for managing over $20 billion dollars in assets. Nicole’s story should serve as great inspiration for young women who are hoping to start a successful career in business.

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