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Explain in your own words what it means to put women in the center, as subjects of social study. How does the notion that women have already achieved equality intersect with concerns of feminism, consumption and personal style?
Such an interesting article featured in The National Council of Social Studies, where Mrs. Alice Kessler-Harris wrote and vocalized that although women represent over half the world’s population, the social studies curriculum largely overlooks and underrepresents their stories and perspectives and marginalizes their voices, positions of power, and influence throughout the larger society”. Because leadership roles in these organizations were typically denied to women, their contributions have often been viewed by history books as marginal, serving only as “helpmates” or “tenders of the heart,” who work within the private sphere of the home rather than in the public sphere of the marketplace or politics.
When a few women rose to prominence by assuming men’s roles in history (e.g., Queen Elizabeth, Joan of Arc) or challenging social norms (e.g., Abigail Adams, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells, Rosa Parks), public recognition of their accomplishments gained traction. In other words, history recognizes women who exercised aggressive leadership traits or roles traditionally exhibited by males, rather than valuing them for accomplishments of passivity, care, and compassion ( McIntosh 2005).
I find very interesting that women have been singled out and labeled to being the weaker vessel. As far back as history portrays it or how it has been taught to us in school that women were to be helpers, followers, submissive and homemakers. As the times evolved and technology grew it seemed and I can only go off what my ancestors and family have shared is that at least in our Mexican culture the roles were defined from the movement the family knew the sex of the baby. I understand that many at that time worked in the fields and the more children especially boys were brought into the world or their family the richer their crops would grow. Awhile the females would automatically inside be tending to the home, the children and for the men.
Generation after generations are conditioned to see women as nurturing submissive “helpers”. Seemed that as technology advanced some of those little girls were exposed and continue to be to “other ways” of accomplishing the same goals as men and some were fortunate enough to have been born with women having equal rights as those of the men, yet as these women seek to better themselves they now have to take on the task of being seen as rebellious by going against their own families, whose mindsets have been conditioned to follow traditional roles. I think women are just naturally instinctive and have an inner strength like no others especially after enduring many childbearing pains or just mentality in general. They thirst to learn and excel at anything that is out of the norm. The irony is it seems that the very society that said they could not accomplish these goals or dreams is the very society that wants to suppress them after they were proven wrong want to set them back to the very mold, they just broke. Again, it is like a revolving door of someone holding this carrot in front of you to do better but deep down they do not want you to.
I have a bumper sticker that says,” Well-behaved women seldom make history”, and if you go back to the history of famous historical women its usually those who took on the “definition of a joining a man’s world” and flipped inside out. Yet, instead of women being applauded for becoming a stronger, highly intelligent, assertive, bold nurturing submissive helpers they are labeled as aggressive, power hungry, men hating hormonal activists. Sadly, sometimes even other women who chose not to pursue higher education or Corporate America because they had their “own right” as well to be a homemaker or stay at home which to each its own seem to also join men and turn on bold history making impactful women. It is as if you can’t win for losing being a woman. Some of us are going against the current to implement social changes and changing some societal norms, while fighting for the very women who complain about women being treated unfairly and being seen as a weaker vessel are first to throw you under the bus per say. In my opinion it sometime seems as we Strong BOLD women are somehow always fighting domestic terrorism from within …taking on other dominant females as if it were a competition in female dominance plus still fighting the traditional men’s old fashioned stereotypical mentality of what a women’s role is and how she belongs in the home raising the children or cleaning the home.
To put women in the center of social studies means shifting the focus of attention from men who are consistently talked about in our history and social studies to the marginalized women and gender minorities. In many education plans, women are not represented nearly as much as men, suggesting to children that women simply play the role of caretaker and do little to contribute to the history and achievements of society (Lockyer and Tazzymant 2016). To put women in the center of study aims to achieve a balance of education and representation. However, one must do this genuinely, as some curriculums include studies of women’s struggles and achievements in a tokenistic manner, which does very little to balance the education of women’s history and can be seen as performative activism (Lockyer and Tazzymant 2016). This same type of tokenism can be seen in workplaces in order to form an outside perspective of being inclusive. While balance may appear to be equal between men and women, the true distribution of power may leave women under-represented and underappreciated when it comes to their status in the workplace (Wallace and Kay 2012). This unequal treatment in the workplace is a consequence of hundreds of years of women doing work for society in the background and being underrepresented. When we begin to change the system of education to form a more representative sample of all genders throughout history, perhaps the gender norms will change to be more inclusive of women in positions of power.
The notion that women have already achieved equality is very harmful to progress for women and minorities within society. However, this notion coincides with popular feminism, which confuses hashtag activism and capitalist feminist merchandise with the true reconstruction of the laws and policies that keep women from dominating within society (Hadjicostandi-Anag 2021). While it is beneficial to keep the media and society talking about the inequalities of women within our culture, with the rise of celebrity and famous feminism, people are supporting more capitalism rather than feminism. Popular feminism continues to thrive because it makes a profit. It makes individuals feel as if they are supporting a cause, without doing more than contributing their money by buying fashion that labels them as a feminist through the form of a graphic t-shirt. This is a step in the right direction from refusing to address issues of women’s equality, however, a great deal of reform will be necessary in order to make a substantial change in the way that society views women. Another con to popular feminism is the reactive behavior of popular misogyny. Popular feminism can be troublesome moving forward as a majority of those who are accessing this popular feminism on social media are young and easily influenced. They could be tricked into thinking that this type of feminism is a real act of social change, giving the illusion of freedom that a majority of women, especially minority women, still do not have the privilege of receiving. Most of the time, popular feminism is thought of in a more “positive” light and does little to address the racial, political, and violent sides of feminist discussions (Banet-Weiser et al. 2020). Third-wave feminism has been said to include women of color more often as a form of tokenism rather than being truly transformative from second-wave feminism (Clark Mane 2012). For example, in my community, I have seen far more white women wearing t-shirts with the words “feminist”, “women are powerful” or just “women” than I have seen political marches for women’s rights. A big change in Texas this year was the heartbeat bill that Abbott signed in on May 19, 2021, which prevented women from having legal abortions in Texas after 6 weeks. I expected to see a great deal of uproar about this from people on social media but I was surprised to see that a number of women stayed quiet. This is likely due to the fact that it wasn’t popularized in the national media, therefore there was no popular feminist “trend” to jump onto. However, popular feminism does see the vulnerability of women when it comes to problems of sexual assault (Hadjicostandi-Anag 2021). This can be helpful in all communities, especially online, as it can help survivors of such crimes come forward to show that there is still a problem with these gender inequalities such as in the #MeToo movement. Such a community coming together and recognizing these gender inequalities can be progressive for a more equal future.
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