By Amber DeFabio
Three years ago, I remember I stood in my kitchen with my older brother. I was a freshman and he was a junior in college. We were arguing over an article I had recently read that said equality had still not been reached between genders. Up until that point, I’d believed feminism was this eccentric term for women who disregarded hair removal and wanted to overpower the male population. By thinking this, I quickly gave in to my brother’s argument because he acted like feminism was a bad thing. He insisted that women were now completely equal to men than before. I thought to myself, is this true? He claimed that he had never seen a woman treated unfairly before. I thought to myself, have I ever even been treated unfairly before? Then he proceeded to point out that our mother was successful; our grandmother owned her own business; I was going to college. Equality had been reached. So, I thought to myself, I guess?
I was 18 at the time, and within four short years, I’ve realized how wrong my brother truly was.
My uncle called me the other day and told me to apply to be a PA State Trooper. He said I should apply because he heard they were hiring more women and minorities. “You have a better chance, and they pay well,” he said. I’m an English/Professional Writing with Culture and Media Studies major with three minors in Public Relations, Literature, and Communication. I’ve played rugby for four years and was even invited to try out for the USA Women’s Eagles (the women’s national team). However, from the ads implication, it wasn’t my qualifications that would guarantee me the job or my physical capabilities. It was the pure fact that I was a woman. The fact that there is an advertisement somewhere marketing a job looking for minorities because it doesn't have enough minorities is a shame.
The gender inequality within our society is a reality. So much so, that PA State Troopers can put out an advertisement insinuating the need for more women and minorities on the force. However, even this perpetuates the idea that a woman’s education and experience isn’t enough to secure her career. She needs to find a job that is searching for female candidates in order to have a fighting chance.
While I’m training in the gym, I’ve had men look at me sideways when they see me lift. I’ve been told that I look manly, that I take steroids, that I’m not very lady-like. I invite you to now go look me up on social media and judge me. If you belong to the group that believes those same things, know that you’re a part of the problem.
I can’t even train as an athlete without being judged. However, what I believe is made worse by the women judge me as well. This may be the saddest part of gender inequality.
For so long, women have been told that their bodies didn’t match the ideals of a patriarchal society, and because of this, they are less of a woman, mother, wife, sister, boss. Terms such as "slut-shaming" and "body-shaming" have filtered their way into our everyday language because inequality is real. I may not be forced to clean the kitchen and have dinner ready for my boyfriend when he gets home, and I may not feel that wearing a dress and working out to please him is a necessity. However, inequality has presented itself in other blatant forms and even those that have a more insidious agenda.
We perpetuate the cycle, as women and men, which we learn. There are psychological studies dedicated to this process. And in the end, equality won’t become a reality until we make it so. We all must become educated and understand that people are misinformed and that yes, we have come far, but we have not gone far enough.