Contemporary Oppression of Femininity

Contemporary Oppression of Femininity

Justin Munoz-Pena and Ava Hawkes

Feminists believe that in society, men are superior than women. There is inequality within gender roles causing men to promote patriarchy. Societal norms have created the assumption that women suffer more from ‘hysteria’ than men do. Women are seen as overly emotional and tend exhibit irrational behaviors. In addition, men do not suffer from the effects of ‘hysteria,’ and often times society portrays men as more even-tempered than women. These societal views have created a negative connotation attached to feminism. Think about the stereotype of the “angry feminist,” women with dyed hair and furrowed brows ready to lecture you about man-splaining and man-spreading, or accuse you of sexual harassment. This is an extension of the “hysterical woman” stereotype which has been common throughout history.

In society males are often rewarded and are granted more privileges than women, for example, this is shown in the film industry. According to New Critical Theory, “many people today believe such inequities are a thing of the past because, over time, anti discriminatory laws have been passed in an effort to guarantee women equal pay for equal work.” (81) This exemplifies that ever since the suffrage movement of the 20s and again in the 70s that laws have been issued by Congress to prevent such inequality amongst both women & men. However, wage inequality still exists. Take the film industry as an example. Male actors are offered higher wages than women for the same quality of work, and therefore, women have to devote more effort into their workplace in order to receive a good paying salary, and equal position of leadership if not they are granted another “job title” that offers a lesser salary. “Women working in the United States, for instance, still are paid, on average, between 55 and 77 cents depending on their ethnicity, age, and geographic location — for every dollar earned by men.” (81) This proves that men are granted higher wages than women, preventing equality amongst both genders in the work environment.

“Patriarchy is thus, by definition, sexist, which means it promotes the belief that women are inferior to men.” This is a form of “inferiority of women” which is defined by “biological essentialism” — “biological differences between the sexes that are considered part of our unchanging essence as men and women.” This idea of biological essentialism posits that women are naturally inferior to men, or naturally submissive. They are naturally more prone to hysteria. However, this simply isn’t true. Society has evolved past a point where the strong rule the weak; of course, in hunter-gatherer times, women would be considered inferior. But we live in the age of smartphones and bullet trains. Intelligence, not strength, is what allows people to gain power. Women are not naturally less intelligent than men.
Of course, “masculine” relates to the male identity and “feminine” relates to the female identity. However, when the terms switch and a male is perceived to be feminine than he is viewed by society to be lesser. Men are expected by society to play the dominant role, and it’s assumed that every male would naturally fall into this position. However, many men don’t. This is where “homophobia” fundamentally comes from; homophobia is revealed when a male takes on the role of the submissive. Men exhibiting attraction to the same sex is assumed to be taking on the role of a feminine figure. This adds on to how normally men hate being compared to women because they perceive being compared to women as a sign of weakness. Hence, men often feel humiliated and see it as a sign of embarrassment when referred to as “feminine,” and how the term “gay” comes to be used as an insult.

All things considered, society still suffers from staggering inequality between the sexes. Of course, other factors, such as race and socioeconomic position, play a role as well. We must expand past a primitive, “biological” way of thinking and come to understand each other as complex minds with their identities, not just simple bodies.