When the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted in 1868, women were angry. Not because they didn’t support the equal protection and rights of slaves (although some certainly did not), but because the Constitution used the word “male” for the first time in all of American history. It isolated its rights solely for men, leaving women out of the picture. Yet certain leaders for Black rights, including the renown Frederick Douglass, justified it as calling it “the Negro’s hour”. The fact that women had to wait another fifty years for suffrage is the definition of “sexist”. As the movement for gender equality becomes more complete as society progresses, I too find myself questioning how “sexist” society used to be. In my AP United States History class, I learned that society has been oppressing women ever since the first colony was established. Before marriage, a woman’s father would be in possession of all her belongs and her entire life. After marriage, she would fulfill the duty of keeping the house neat and tidy for her husband after his long day of work. Concepts such as Republican Motherhood, which stated that women are the ones who are responsible for raising their children under the ideals of republicanism, and the Cult of Domesticity, which put women under the social pressures of being pious, sexually pure, submissive to her husband, and domestic in the home, justified the separation of gender roles. Were people necessarily aware of how segregated this was? Maybe not. I can respect the fact that in centuries ago, women and men had distinct roles — I am not to say that the man’s role was easy — but in today’s era, society must not dictate life roles for men and women.
About a week ago, I was at a Model UN conference, sitting in the International Ballroom of the Washington Hilton, listening to the Secretary General of the North American Invitational Model United Nations give an emotion-ridden speech. During the speech, I decided to check Yik Yak, which is essentially an anonymous twitter app that fills your feed based on your current location. Therefore, all the recent feed on Yik Yak was regarding the happenings at the conference. Mostly full or delegates’ critical comments on the closing ceremonies’ speeches, one post in particular caught my attention. It stood out to me because of its blatant sexism, saying something along the lines of “how is it possible that a man is working under a girl”, in reference to the Executive Director’s assistant being a man. In this day and age, I could not understand how certain guys, or even possibly girls, could think this way. Expressing awe at a man working for a woman implies that women are simply inferior and deserve to always work under a man’s dominance. This is the definition of “sexist”.
We don’t get to choose what sex we were born as; girls didn’t choose inferior rights, but as a full supporter of gender equality, I cannot help but think that a minuscule (or probably even some) part of society has lost perspective of the true representation of the word “sexist”. A few weeks ago, my class was talking about the Women’s March the day after President Trump’s inauguration, and a girl complained that her mother wouldn’t let her attend. Her female classmate, in reply to the her statement, exclaimed, “Oh my god, your mom’s a sexist!”. Oddly enough, the girl full-heartedly agreed. I contemplated this for a moment — something seemed a bit off. Although it could have been a moment of awkward, humorous sarcasm, it baffled me that a mother who would not let her 16 year old daughter, who by the way is still a minor under her authority, attend a women’s march all the way in Washington D.C. would be deemed a “sexist”. A week later, after the Women’s March occurred, Taylor Swift issued a tweet that quickly unraveled into a controversial predicament. People all over the Internet were attacking her for being a hypocrite. While the tweet said, “[s]o much love, pride, and respect for those who marched. I’m proud to be a woman today, and everyday. #Womensmarch”, a majority of the commenters essentially noted her as a fake feminist. Not showing up to the march while other celebrities did was enough to set people off, even though she didn’t even do anything in particular to go against women. I didn’t attend the march, so does that make me a fake feminist also? Am I now officially a “sexist”? Why do people hold different standards for celebrities, expecting them to be perfect moral figures?
The thing about sexism nowadays is that to some of the more sensitive people, if you were to deny the sexism of a certain situation, you too, are automatically labeled as “sexist”. On the day that I overheard the girl criticizing her mother for being sexist, I did not bother to step in and confirm, to ask her to elaborate, even though I was thoroughly puzzled. And that’s because I was too afraid of being bashed with that same sarcasm, the bitterness of sexism. Don’t get me wrong, sexism upsets me, but what upsets me just as much is when people take the concept of gender inequality, more specifically the word “sexist”, and inappropriately plaster it all over the walls, demeaning and desensitizing the entire movement.
And the fact is, does not supporting the “free the nipple” movement actually make you “sexist” and anti-feminist? Does being pro-life mean that you don’t support women equality and rights? And while others are entirely entitled to disagree, in my opinion, it does not. It just simply means that you accept the physical differences between genders, the difference that allows for male athletes to have faster sprint times than females, due to their high production of testosterone. The reasons are scientific sometimes, but it does not mean that women should not have the same fundamental rights as men. It does not mean preventing girls in the Middle East from acquiring the education that boys get. It does not mean setting girls up for adoption in China because society favors the boy who carries on the family name. It does not mean that the statistic of 1 in 5 women getting sexually assaulted in American colleges is okay. But at the same time, is it reasonable for a person to not be a supporter of abortion due to their beliefs on terminating a form of life without having to get attacked and labeled as a “sexist” who does not support women’s rights? I think so. You may not support the women’s right to choose because of the moral aspect of stopping life, but that does not mean you think that women deserve to be oppressed. In the Bible, man was created before woman, so in a way, those that study the Bible may rightfully believe that the woman did indeed come second. But that doesn’t mean that in this era, we must always put women second. Times have changed, and it is time to embrace the true quality of gender equality.