Are Women Equal To Men? Please Stop Telling Me Sexism Is Dead
If you don't experience a specific form of oppression, there is a whole system built that erases it from your sight. Turning a blind eye is not only easy, it's encouraged. Given this cultural context, I'm hardly surprised when I meet men (or women) who believe sexism is over. However, if you're reading this and agree that gender inequality is a thing of the past, I politely request that you please stop telling me women are equal until you've taken a long, hard look at the numbers and facts that tell a different story.
Maybe you've have a strong female boss or family member, or maybe you've never witnessed sexual violence. Perhaps, in your circles, the lives of women seem cushioned from the outside. You might find yourself surrounded by women who are privileged in many ways that have nothing to do with their gender. This is all real and understandable, and yet, the numbers and experiences of women continue to paint a picture of inequality.
Let's talk about women in powerful positions at the workplace. According to an article from The New York Times, there were more CEOs named John than female CEOS in 2015. The Times referenced a study from Execucomp that revealed men named John rake in 5.3 percent of top corporate leadership roles, while women only comprise 4.1 percent of CEO positions. According to Women in the Workplace, men are promoted at higher rates than women are.
Even when women find themselves in a high-earning position alongside all the Johns in the world, a Cosmopolitan survey of 2,235 women between the ages of 18-34 revealed that one in three women experience sexual harassment at work. And to top that off, a staggering 71 percent of women don't report sexual harassment in the workplace — and that's no surprise, considering how more than half of those reports don't even result in any charges.
Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg; some of the most dangerous forms of gender inequality take place outside work settings. According to a study from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, and as many as three women are murdered a day by a partner in the U.S.
Including, but not limited to the context of domestic violence, RAINN found that 1 out of 6 women has been raped in her lifetime, and 90 percent of adult rape victims are female (compared to 10 percent who are men). Needless to say, statistically, women face astronomical rates of harassment and violence in the workplace, romantic relationships, and merely existing in the world.
You might be thinking — sure, women face danger, but doesn't everyone? What about the normal day-to-day activities? Okay, let's lighten up for a moment. Let's say a woman is going to the store to pick up some self-care items from the store. That seems fun, right? No inequalities there? Well, not quite.
A 2015 report from the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs studies 800 nearly identical products marketed by gender and found that women's products on average cost 7 percent more than men's. On a yearly basis, this roughly translates to $1,351 extra per year for the same shopping trip.
It seems reasonable that after a long day of being paid less at work, experiencing widespread sexual harassment, barely dodging fatal intimate relationships, and paying more than men for the same products, a woman would want to unwind by watching television.
While we are currently facing a television renaissance with an increasing number of well-written and diversely cast roles, a 2016 report from The Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film found that women made up just 17 percent of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers for the top 250 domestic grossing films. Also, 79 percent of broadcast, cable, and streaming programs featured casts with more male speaking actors than female. The blight of gender inequality is practically impossible to avoid — even when women are winding down for the night, it seems.
The point I'm trying to make is neither to ruin your day, or paint women as perpetual victims. We live rich, robust lives, despite deep-seated cultural obstacles. However, my hope is that less people will claim sexism is over, and more will take up arms, so to speak, to fight the remaining forces of institutionalized sexism.