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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Year of the Woman hoax

<beling 2017 as the Year of the Woman is a big statement. The label “Year of the Woman” was first popularly used in 1992 after many female senators were elected. It has since been used, especially in 2017, to recognize the rise and importance of women in politics and society as a whole. The year 2017 saw enormous marches all over the nation to draw attention to and fight for the rights of women. In moments like those I believed in the slogan, and will always believe in the power of women. But I have to question, has there ever really been a Year of the Woman?

When I was in elementary school, my second grade teacher attempted to define marginalized communities to my class. It was a noble effort, but I don’t even think we knew what communities were. But nevertheless, I failed to recognize women as a marginalized community. That is how lowly women are viewed by society.  I was shaped, even at a young age, to recognize that my marginalization as a woman was something that I had to take for granted. I wasn’t marginalized, I thought. This was just how it went. We often are taught to ignore our marginalization by people who point to powerful women of the past and present, like Eleanor Roosevelt and Michelle Obama, and say look, you are represented! They matter, so, so do you!

But this batch of incredible, public figures is too small. If women comprise over 50 percent of the population, logistically they should comprise 50 percent of the House and Senate. Half of our presidents should have been women. I doubt this will ever happen. Women have been and continue to be so looked down upon and scrutinized that a true Year of the Woman, in which equality is completely achieved, will probably never happen. I don’t mean to be cynical, but I highly doubt this dream will ever come true.

So why is that? What’s at the core of the fear to allow for complete equality and for a true Year of the Woman to form? I think, in part of answering this question, that heterosexual men are terrified of strong, independent women. I think too many men look for docile, sweet, mild-tempered, agreeable, and naïve companions and could never fathom marrying or voting for a woman who is opinionated and headstrong and confident. Just as women have been bred to look for a strong breadwinner as a mate, and perhaps a rich, assertive authority figure in government, men have been taught to look for the complete opposite. Women are labeled as selfish, men are labeled as ambitious. Women are stubborn; men are confident. Women are often called the equivalent of an animal, a bitch, in public, behind closed doors, and in song lyrics. Men do not have a label equivalent of an animal. When will men begin to realize that women do count as a marginalized group, and that by them believing in stereotypes of women, they are participating in the campaign against them?
Women have had brilliant flashes of independence and glory and power throughout history in the United States. When women fought and won their right to vote in the United States. When the first woman ran for president. When hundreds of Carleton protestors flocked to the cities last January in freezing temperatures to have their voices be heard. We shouldn’t need a Year of the Woman. No, we should not need, in an ideal world, a Year of the Woman at all. We would not need that label, because hypothetically women would already be equal and glorified for their accomplishments as men already are.  Labeling 2017 or 2018 or 2019 as a Year of the Woman is only a way of recognizing the inequality that women face on a daily basis.

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