Thursday, August 21, 2014

The woman's challenge is sometimes our own

As I read more books based on women and their hardships, it is very telling just how difficult our lives have been. Throughout history, the status of women as underlings has been difficult to overcome. It is not a single battle. If we are not fighting traditions, we have religion to contend with. Then there  are cultural and personal taboos. This is evident in the different genres of books I read, whether personal accounts or academic.

For the most part, women have come a long way, especially if you live in a rich country. We have made strides, but that remains true for only a portion of the population. The more affluent and educated we are, the better our circumstances but that does not excuse privileged women from facing their own challenges.

Women from poorer countries have plenty to deal with. There is the lack of basic necessities, followed by the hardship of trying to improve one's life when she is starting at the lowest social and economic levels, and then the burden of realizing that maybe this is the life she will ever have. Regardless of our backgrounds, it is evident that our challenges are still wide and too real.

We can fault the debilitating expectations society has on placed women. We can fault our own gender for adopting those roles without a good fight, or we can just relieve our consciousness and believe that as with other disenfranchised groups that have overcome their battles, our turn to rise will come. But until that time does arrive, there must be something we can do to help us reach that ideal goal we strive for. The first is to make a personal decision to refuse to accept the status quo. To release ourselves from living up to expectations we don't place on ourselves. The second step is to speak out against the chains that imprison us, whether it's a toxic relationship, primitive traditions, or values that were forced upon us. The third step would be to become a little more supportive of each other's needs.

This last goal is the most important. We see and hear examples of women failing our gender on a daily basis. Whether it is an environment where matriarchs willingly accept the subordination of their girls by male family members or facilitate those roles by repressing other women under their care. We must do more to propel the status of women by refusing to evolve from victim to victimizer. We see this in societies where women are viciously attacked either verbally or physically to  protect an honor code traditionally held at the expense of women. Other times, the obstacles present themselves in unusual methods meant to empower women, such as skewed statistics that don't  represent a typical population but are marketed as solutions. This is evident in the misguided perceptions most hold of Muslim women or the false belief that technology and science has always progressed gender equality.

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