Three perceptions of mine have been shattered over the last week; what an essay is, what MLA Citation is and what equity is. Let’s start with the easiest one to explain. For my whole life, I have been told that the perfect essay follows the rote format of an introduction, three supporting paragraphs and a conclusion. This led me to be quite shocked when our teachers told us our final essays for this project should be anything but this. I soon learned the reasoning behind this however, as now that we are senior students we have the understanding of text structure to create even more convincing arguments through personalized formatting, variations of which we have already learned how to create through our Commonlit readings.
Alongside our talk about essays came a talk about MLA citations. It genuinely shocked me when I was informed that a Works Cited page is not a place for all research but merely for what is directly referenced in the text (maybe I should research more into what I’m doing before I do it in the future…). Yet, if my understanding is still water then these two revelations felt like pebbles being tossed into it. The third revelation felt more like a boulder crashing into a lake after hurtling down a cliff. This was that it is actually okay in some cases for women to not be treated equally as men.
For this to make sense, I will need to clarify something. I believe that women should always have equity to men but that this doesn’t always mean they should be treated equally. What does this mean?
Now why does equity matter? Well, if we look at The Taming of the Shrew, Bianca and Katherina are both treated differently than men through objectification and the requirement to marry. They are both expected to “serve, love, and obey.” (Shakespeare, 5. 2. 176), and for Bianca this works quite well but for Katherina it does not. Despite inequity being beneficial for women who find themselves in similar situations to Bianca, Katherina represents the inevitability of struggle which it can bring. Even if most women found themselves living a perfect life as Bianca, a few would still struggle like Katherina and thus equity is the only path to true fairness. In this blog post, I want to dive more in-depth into this idea to explain how this week I’ve learned that:
This idea was the first piece of the puzzle that led me to my topic for this weekly reflection. According to an article on health by the University of Utah, “in the history of research into health outcomes in medicine, men’s biology was the default mode” (Jones, 2016) and female factors such as pregnancy, the menstrual cycle, differences in body mass, fat to muscle ratio, and even the positioning of bones in surgery have not often been taken into account. These may seem like minor differences, but according to health consultation firm Mercer, the divergence between the bodies of women and men lead to women being more prone to:
Learning that something as fundamental to our society as healthcare can be biased and unequal surprised me. It also made me realize that society follows like a child behind its parent, walking in the footsteps of those who came before and rarely questioning if a new path needs to be forged. However, in the case of women’s healthcare it most certainly does. If we continue on letting male-defaulted medicine be the norm, the health outcomes of women will continuously be iniquitous to men.
As I spoke about in my previous weekly reflection post, women have been historically treated differently both in receiving and providing education. The Dean of Women, a historical administrative position “to protect and guide the women” (Schwartz, 1997) students was recently phased out of the system. Although this encouraged women not to be thought of as different than men, it also led to less than 20% of deans being women in the 1980s. This was a case where women being considered separate from men was extremely beneficial to both the female students and the administration, and the removal of this difference actually decreased equity. In a new effort to better support the female population in academia, some universities now give preferential acceptance to women to create gender-balanced learning environments. Once again, a difference in the treatment of the sexes is creating more opportunities for women and levelling the playing field to bring equity. Although I believe this is an excellent step which can revolutionize the academic scene, part of me feels uncomfortable with recognizing I may get preference in my post-secondary applications simply due to my gender. It was like how Katherina was valued for her money in The Taming of the Shrew; yes, it got her married, but would she not have rather been loved for herself?
It is impossible to discuss women’s rights without bringing up the wage gap. This controversial topic, viewed as myth by some and as a serious issue by others, as something we explored through the video below:
What I found shocking, as I’ve mentioned before, that it isn’t blatant sexism keeping women down most of the time but rather their role as a caretaker. It does not matter if women and men are given “equal opportunities” to find, enter and succeed in their careers as women have to dedicate half or more of their time to their home life. Granted, we have seen significant strides towards equity as historically (such as in the Elizabethan era) the highest hopes of a career a woman could have was to be a servant to her husband, as seen when Katherina exclaims that “a woman oweth to her husband” (Shakespeare, 5. 2. 167-168) to the same extensive degree that a subject owes a prince, but it is not enough. Luckily, we are still striving for improvement as now many employers have introduced affirmative action to preferentially employ women. This can be seen as high as in our federal government, where “[i]n 2019, Canadians sent more women to the House of Commons than ever before” (Raman-Wilms, 2019). I am glad to see this kind of action being taken so readily, but it also leaves me to question the motive. Do employers truly recognize the importance of creating equity for women or is it simply the “politically correct” thing to do?
Few things can be viewed in black and white and the treatment of women is not one of them. Although some situations benefit from treating males and females uniquely, there are many who do not. The reason for this is not because treating people differently is innately bad however, but because the actions listed below do not create equity:
Objectification, or lowering someone’s value to that of an object, from men has continuously been a struggle faced by women, and with women historically not returning “the gaze” this has been a contentious point of inequity. We can see objectification as early as in the Elizabethan era where a proud Petruchio claims his wife Katherina is “[his] goods, [his] chattels; she is [his] house, [his] household stuff, [his] field, [his] barn, [his] horse, [his] ox, [his] ass, [his] anything.” (Shakespeare, 3. 2. 224-227) and definitely in modern-day in the media such as in the music video Cherry Pie by Warrant. Surprisingly, despite the word being pretty self-explanatory, before this unit I did not understand what objectification meant. I now realize that it is one of the ultimate forms of inequality as, despite sometimes coming off as flattering, it degrades a person to be less than human. It could be considered, in its most severe forms, as bad as claiming another race is sub-human. With this in mind, this different treatment of women should not be condoned as it in no way promotes equity.
An interesting point of discussion however is if men can be objectified. Upon a deep-dive into the internet, I found a potential example below. You be the judge:
One of the most subtle yet prominent forms of inequity which exists between men and women are the societal norms which females are held to. In the Elizabethan times, a woman would be considered a terrible shrew or worse if she was “froward, peevish, sullen, sour, [a]nd not obedient to [her husband’s] honest will” (Shakespeare, 5. 2. 169-170) or did anything else unladylike. Men, such as Petruchio however, could show up to a wedding wearing literal trash, swear and act violently without as much as a chuckle coming from a crowd of onlookers. Women historically were also dissuaded from pursuing artistic careers for the common sentiment was that “it [is] impossible for any woman, past, present, or to come, to have the genius of Shakespeare.” (Woolf, para. 5). As the years have passed, the societal leash has been increasingly loosened on women’s norms, but many still face inequity. We need look no further than Serena Williams who was chastised for wearing a black catsuit by the president of the French Tennis Federation. He exclaimed that “the outfit ‘wouldn’t be back.’ It ‘went too far,’ he continued. It didn’t ‘respect the game and the place’” (Clemente, para. 1). If our society cannot put these outdated ideals in the past, we can never reach a true place of equity.
The Public’s Opinion
As one finds evidence to support a radical claim they become more and more enveloped in its supposed truth. This can be dangerous however, as this truth can feed itself into falsehood if not carefully monitored. The solution to this is consulting with others, which I decided to do with this topic in my PLP classroom. I asked the class “Is it okay for women to be treated differently at times? Can there sometimes be a benefit?” and received the following responses:
I believed, that in posing my question around benefits rather than harm, I would have the full support of my classmates in there sometimes being a need to treat women differently. This led to me being shocked when I found arguments coming from both sides. I am glad I opened this discussion however, as I have now not only learned my classmates’ opinions but a potential reason why the change for women’s rights is so slow, and that is that the policymakers are likely as divided as my classroom is. I do not blame them though, as this topic is one of the most challenging we have covered in our time in PLP.
The following resources were chosen with particular strategies in mind. I chose articles produced by universities when possible for reliability, along with researched other organizations whose websites I did not recognize. When using Wikipedia, I went upstream to see if the sources were reliable, relevant and accurate. I also matched information we learned in class with information online, such as that there are more women than ever before in our Government, ensuring I see the bigger picture and can present the information accurately.
“Affirmative Action in the United States – Wikipedia.” Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 1 Sept. 2007, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmative_action_in_the_United_States.
Clemente, Deirdre. “SERENA WILLIAMS’ CATSUIT CONTROVERSY EVOKES THE BATTLE OVER WOMEN WEARING SHORTS.” CommonLit, 2018, https://www.commonlit.org/en/user/login.
“Dean of Women – Wikipedia.” Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dean_of_women. Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.
Raman-Wilms, Menaka. “2019 Saw a Record Number of Women Elected — but Gender Equity in the Commons Is Still Far off | CBC News.” CBC, 29 Dec. 2019, https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/women-mps-house-of-commons-2019-election-1.5404800.
Schwartz, Robert. “Project MUSE – How Deans of Women Became Men.” Project MUSE Logo, https://muse.jhu.edu/article/30033. Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. The Taming of the Shrew. New York :Signet Classic, 1998.
“Women and Men Are Different, So Doctors Need to Treat Them Differently.” MyMy, https://healthcare.utah.edu/the-scope/shows.php?shows=0_uboi0x72. Accessed 11 Sept. 2020.
Woolf, Virginia. “EXCERPT FROM A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN.” CommonLit, 1929, https://www.commonlit.org/en/user/login.