Tag Archives: United States

Big Question: What is Fairness?

In the United States, the supposed public creed is fairness. Through the legal system, it is evident that America purports justice, fairness and equity as central ideals. However, legal interpretations and verdicts have not always yielded a ‘fair’ outcome; what exactly is fairness? Does fairness mean giving everyone the same expectations and opportunities? If so, how can America accommodate diversity? What happens when different types of people want different opportunities and have different expectations for their own lives? Clearly, the uniformity of the law is compelling because it deters prejudicial law, however this uniformity can also be conversely crippling because it does not always allow for necessary complexities that people have.

The transgender population suffers under the law’s uniformity and its’ ‘fairness’ because this group does not fit neatly into the law and there is additional diversity within the transgender population. Specifically, healthcare law largely does not protect self-identified transgender people fairly. As with women’s health, healthcare policies are primarily reserved powers that states have. The law’s disunity on transgender healthcare policies, which diverges on state lines, directly contradicts ethos of fairness and inhibits one’s freedom.

Sources:

AMSA,http://www.amsa.org/AMSA/Homepage/About/Committees/GenderandSexuality/TransgenderHealthCare.aspx

Dean Spade, “Resisting Medicine, Re/modelling Gender” (2003)

What Is Fairness? Dividing Housework and Childcare

Women are expected to do the housework and childcare. In the US, women with husbands and children often have to go to work along with taking care of their home and children. They usually receive little to no assistance from their husbands. “The wife-to-husband ratio for child care in the United States is close to five to one.” (Belkin) Even couples who decide to equally split the housework and childcare often run into difficulties. Because of the influence of societal norms, men may have less flexible work schedules and women may be judged more on the appearance of their home and children. So what is fairness in the realm of housework and childcare?

Fairness varies depending on the couple. The division should be discussed between the parents until a split that satisfies both is reached. While I believe that an equal split in housework and parenting is ideal, it is undeniable that each couple is unique, with a different situation and desires. Still, theory may not work in practice, which is why the couple should be open to negotiating the division again if someone finds themselves dissatisfied with how the split is playing out. Open communication is key to fairness in partitioning housework and childcare responsibilities.

Belkin, Lisa. “When Mom and Dad Share It All.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 15 June 2008. Web. 30 Nov. 2013.

What are the effects of privilege?

Providing accessible birth control to all U.S. women is inhibited by class and race privilege.  In this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=K_mu8CS0aWA

Republican Tom Price showed total ignorance that under-privileged women even exist. He opposes the Obama administration’s rule that insurance must cover birth control because he does not relate to the lower class (not that he can relate directly to the need for birth control, considering he is a man). Class privilege is a barrier that keeps lower-class women from getting birth control, since upper-class men are usually the ones making decisions regarding it.

In Racism, Birth Control and Reproductive Rights, Angela Davis points out that white women experience white privilege when it comes to birth control. Women of color might not participate as much in the movement for accessible birth control because in the early 1900s, President Theodore Roosevelt declared that native-born whites were not reproducing enough, so birth control and abortion should be used “as means of preventing the proliferation of the ‘lower classes’” and races (Davis 210). Historically, birth control has been negative for women of color or low class.

The privilege of white, upper-class people inhibits the accessibility of birth control.

Work Cited

Davis, Angela. “Racism, Birth Control, and Reproductive Rights.” Abortion Rights to Reproductive Freedom: Transforming a Movement. Ed. Marlene Fried. Boston: South End, 1990. 203-21. Print.

What is gender oppression?

An article titled “The Real Boy Crisis: 5 ways America tells boys not be girly” on Salon.com lists five behaviors that are unacceptable for boys because it diverts from masculine gender norms. The article reveals the notion of men and gender representation. Gender norms and its association with masculine and feminine traits create gender oppression. Gender oppression often focuses on the oppression of women in a patriarchal society because women are constantly encouraged to assert feminine characteristics. Women are seen as the oppressed gender and men are seen as the suppressors. However, gender oppression also has an affect on men’s behavior as they are constantly bombarded with images that tell them how to assert masculinity. Masculinity limits men’s ability to express their feelings. The idea of masculinity needs to be proven by asserting strength in the forms of aggression and independence. Being a man implies that a person is able to handle situations on their own without expressing any emotional empathy or vulnerability. These characteristics aim to devalue feminine traits men may obtain that are associated with being unmanly. Feminine traits are described as showing emotions such as compassion, love and sensitivity. Boys are told not to act like girls because it is shameful to their masculinity.  These limitations allow men to be criticized when acting in a feminine manner. Men are encouraged to conform to these gendered stereotypes, which lead to an oppression of true thoughts and actions. Performing masculinity prevents men from being themselves. These ideas shape the way men and women treat one another because men are devalued for expressing the same traits women are expected to perform.

http://www.salon.com/2013/09/25/5_ways_america_tells_boys_not_to_be_girly/

Big question: What should US schools teach in sex-education classes?

In “Beyond Yes or No: Consent as Sexual Process,” Rachel Kramer Bussel discusses consent that “isn’t concerned just with whether your partner wants to have sex, but what kind of sex, and why” (Bussel 44). According to Bussel—and I agree with her argument—couples need to openly discuss what kind of sex they enjoy. Unfortunately, I think this idea is largely ignored in American sexual educational. In my experience—and from what I hear, many others’ as well—sex-ed in the US is grounded in a basic principle: practice abstinence, but if you have sex, use a condom and don’t rape someone. This grossly simplistic foundation ignores dimensions crucial to relationships. Simply using a condom and having baseline consensual sex does not ensure that both members of the couple will be satisfied.

However, other countries take a more comprehensive approach to sex-education. In the Netherlands, sex-ed curriculum focuses not only on safe sex, but also on communicating effectively in a relationship about both sexual and emotional needs. The curriculum discusses sexual diversity, a topic barely if at all mentioned in my own sex-ed classes. I think the Dutch approach is a much healthier (not to mention effective; the Netherlands has one of the lowest unintended teen pregnancy rates in the world) approach to sex-ed, and the US would benefit from incorporating some of the Dutch curriculum into its own.

Rachel Kramer Bussel. “Beyond Yes or No: Consent as Sexual Process.” From Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti. Seal Press: New York, 2008.

http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/resources/pdf/TBR_InternationalComparison.pdf
Source: United States: Martin, J.A., Hamilton, B.E., Sutton, P.D., Ventura, S.J., Matthews, T.J., Kirmeyer, S. & Osterman, M.J.K.. (2010).Births: Final data for 2007. National Vital Statistics Reports,58 (24). Other Countries: United Nations Statistical Division. Demographic Yearbook 2007. New York: United Nations.

What is Inequality?

Chloe Nurik

What is inequality? One only has to look  at the disproportionately low number of women who serve as world leaders to understand this concept. Of the 196 national leadership positions listed by http://www.filibustercartoons.com/charts_rest_female-leaders.php,only 19 of them are filled by females. This means that most women involved in politics operate behind the scenes, supporting men who take center stage as global leaders. Rather than having their own voice, the socio-political views of women (including interests related to gender) are delivered indirectly through male-dominated governments where men do the talking for them.

Gender inequality in government politics is seen around the globe, and one of the worst offenders is the United States. While many democratic nations have been led by females, the highest offices in the U.S. have been exclusively occupied by males. Currently, women hold only 18.3% of the seats in congress (http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/fast_facts/levels_of_office/Congress-CurrentFacts.php) and only 20 % of those in the Senate. In spite of the fact that women have had the right to vote in the U.S. since 1920,  there has never been a female candidate for President and there have been only two female nominees (by major parties) for Vice-President. In her essay, “The Social Construction of Gender,” Judith Lorber notes that “In countries that discourage gender discrimination, many major roles are still gendered…men dominate the positions of authority and leadership in government…” That is precisely what is occurring in the United States, a country that seemingly prides itself on equality. Women remain grossly underrepresented in the political process, especially in positions where they would have the greatest influence. This glass ceiling negatively impacts our nation as it limits access to one of our most valuable resources: a pool of talented, bright, and articulate women who could offer a different perspective and serve as agents of positive social change.

“Facts.” Congress_Current. Center for American Women and Politics, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2013.

“Female World Leaders Currently in Power.” Female World Leaders Currently in Power. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2013.

Lorber, Judith. “The Social Construction of Gender.” Reconstructing Gender: A Multicultural Anthology. By Estelle Disch. 4th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2006. 113-20. Print.