Finally....a post on women's rights and status again...a passionate topic of mine which i try to keep off as i get sooooo heated and animated over it and it tends to be very controversial (in my mind) given the amount of man-hating it seems to come across as (which it ABSOLUTELY is not)...ok maybe just alittle..just a LITTLE...
Anyways, in case, anyone thinks that we no longer need feminism, as many people do nowadays and since the 90s actually, including ALOT of women themselves, i just need to remind everyone of a few stats...it really pisses me off when i hear men (and women!) say how we don't need feminism anymore, how feminist are so militant (i'm a PROUD militant feminist by the way), and all the other kind of bullshit, including jokes about how women are actually OVER men nowadays and men being in danger of being discriminated against in the 21st Century...let me just remind some (stupid ignorant) people of the following shocking facts about the state of our women around the world in the year 2009:
1) Women still make up less than 30% of boards, CEOs, management roles/positions in the private sector in almost every single country in the world today including the so-called 'advanced West' where i read somewhere that women in Britain made up only 20-30% of leadership management positions in the private sector in the late 2000s.
2) Women make up an average of ONLY 18% in all national parliaments around the world in the year 2009. Nope, not year 1909, not year 1959, BUT year 2009. That means men make up on average MORE than 80% MORE THAN 80%, MORE THAN 80% of parliament in all countries around the world on average. I just thought i had to keep repeating the above figure in case it doesn't shock u at first glance. Women make up roughly 50% of the world's population and yet in 2009, less than 20% of parliament and decision-making is in women's hands. The average for European countries is a mere 20% and Asia 18.3% and Arab states 9.7%. Shameful in a word.
Link to Women in Parliament Worldwide Statistics:
3) Crimes against women are still high, and sexual crimes are still committed overwhelmingly against women. Something like over 80% of sexual crimes are committed against women by men and the 20% of sexual crimes committed against mainly boys and some men are usually committed by other MEN as well, not women. And you see the media hype everytime there's some 'news' about a female teacher sleeping with an underage teenage male student as if its the worst thing in the world. I'm sorry, where's the headline news about the hundreds, if not, thousands of male teachers whom molest and rape female students?!!! In fact, they not only target the female students, it seems they also target trainee teacher students assigned to schools as part of their work experience...i read somewhere on one of the English language Korea blogs that there was a piece of news on four male teachers sexually harassing and groping female teacher trainees and forcing them to drink and entertain them at karaoke rooms after school...omg, if these are male teachers doing things to adult females, god knows what potential they have to do these things to female students...
4) Around 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year and over 80% of these are women and girls. Its a despicable figure and most would presumably be traded as sex slaves. They're often raped first by the traffickers and then sold to brothels to be raped thousands of times again. Some are sold as 'wives' to rural communities or men in developed countries whom are socially or economically poor and can't get wives. Some re'sold again by these 'husbands' to other men after having been 'used sexually' or 'shared' with other menfolk in the family such as being forced to sleep with the brother or the uncle as well. I wanna puke as i'm writing this...despite being a feminist for yrs and being so used to such stories and tales of abuse, it never fails to sicken me...for those of us living a middle-class/upper-class lifestyle in relatively developed countries such as Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, etc, it may seem a world away but these things are happening RIGHT NOW in the 21st Century STILL. It's NOT a 20th Century problem. It's continued to become a 21st Century one.
5) Not only are women trafficked across international borders, they are also trafficked WITHIN the national borders of countries. For instance, in India, women and girls are often trafficked from the poor rural villages into the slums of the urban centres such as Mumbai and Bangalore.
The same occurs for many thousands of women and girls in Thailand and Burma, whom are often tricked into the sex trade with false promises to them or their families of well-paid jobs in the cities as waitresses or store clerks. In China in the 1980s and 1990s, women were also abducted from towns and cities and sold as 'brides' to rural communities and men whom couldn't obtain wives because of poverty, handicap, or other deficiencies as well as the gender imbalance in rural China. I watched this award-nominated film about these 'bride-nappings' in China which occured mainly in the 1980s.1990s in China called 'Blind Mountain' 盲山 and it was really a very informative and provoking film and highly recommended, the film trailer and webpage is here:
Nowadays, it tends not to be Chinese women abducted and sold into sexual and domestic slavery as 'wives' in rural China but North Korean women (and some Vietnamese women) in the thousands, if not hundred of thousands, whom are sold in China due to poverty and starvation in North Korea and being exploited as illegal refugees once they cross over the border into Northeast China. Link to more resources on North Korean women refugees in China:
6) Domestic violence is still overwhelmingly a problem faced disproportionately by women. With the Chris Brown-Rihanna episode this year, it shows that domestic violence happens across class lines with being wealthy and educated not being a barrier to it. Indeed it shows the severity of the situation if even Rihanna can get hit despite her fame and wealth, what average women have the potential to go through. It also shows you don't have to be married to get hit, even girlfriends get hit nowadays. It is a problem stemming from the male paranoia and superego which gets super-inflated, male lack of compassion and propensity for violence and control, and what some males view as a show of their 'masculinity' , of not being able to stand women/others seemingly threatening their ego or masculinity. I know personally of many domestic violence situations and these people seem outwardly happy and blessed but who knows what goes on behind closed doors. Further, many middle-aged couples would have experienced this 'phase' earlier on in their marriage in the 80s/90s and were it not for the perseverance of the wife, i can forsee many divorces would have occured by now. I mean just from growing up and hearing stories from around me, you have some husbands telling their wives that they have to accompany them on business trips or they don't know what could happen in terms of affairs happening..and these are considered 'honest' husbands...i mean if a wife told that to her husband, i can foresee she'd be considered a 'whore' etc...of course, these are women from my mother's generation in their 50s now..so..its a different generation now...i can't imagine guys telling that to their young wives of this pampered generation.....
However, despite the above, there have been improvements in women's status around the globe with women accounting for half of the student population now in almost every country, some traditionally male-dominated occupations being more female than male nowadays such as law and public service with more law graduates being female than male in Australia in recent yrs ( i think) and the public service accepting more female new employees than male new employees in South Korea for the past 2 years.
Also, in the media, actresses's 'sellable' years have also increased to 40 and if possible, even over 40 now. It used to be the case that an actress's career would start to suffer after hitting 30., then it became after 35, then now it seems more like they have until 40 and even that seems to be changing with many continuing to be profitable and famous after becoming 40 yrs old with prime examples in the West being Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Nicole Kidman, and Sandra Bullock, and in the East being Carina Lau, Maggie Cheung and others. Of course, men still do get meatier roles and looked at as attractive symbols well past their 40s and even 50s with prime examples such as Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford and Tony Leung and Chow Yun Fatt but at least there's been improvement in expanding the 'beauty and marketable' age group for women to 40 years old now. It's a sign of the times when the latest blockbuster hit 'The Proposal' starring a 45 yr old Sandra Bullock and a 32 year old Ryan Reynolds puts an over 40 yr old actress as the leading romantic lead which is a break-through in itself (if you guys notice carefully, romantic comedies prior to this almost ALWAYS cast a female lead below 35 years old and usually below 30) but they topped that by putting her with a male lead 13 yrs her junior! Gosh, thats why i love this film, there's just something VERY liberating and not to mention refreshing about an older woman-younger man kinda romance, heck, i love it with the woman on top when it comes to sexual positions so i guess no surprises there...hahaha..even in Chinese/Asian dramas and movies, its quite common nowadays to see in a romantic setting for the females to be abit older than the guys as well such as 'A Thousand Tears' with Athena Chu (37 ) and Hawick Lau (34)..in fact, the age of actors/actresses in romances are increasing across the board!! 20 yrs back, romances usually portrayed teenagers and 20 somethings, but nowadays, 30 somethings are very common as well...another example is the Japanese drama back in 2005 with the female lead being 32 and the male lead being only 25 called 'Slow Dance' on Fuji TV.
I think its very dangerous to come to the conclusion that feminism is well and throughly passe now in the 21st century and that women have by and large become equal to men as my examples above are just SOME which goes to show that women are anything but even close to where men stand today. Its a misnomer to say that women in the West are already there as well as statistics have shown that whether in government or in the private sector, women are still less than 30% whether it be in the decision-making boardrooms of the private sector or the hallways of society-influencing government. Thus, all women, be it in the West or East, are still lagging far behind men, not just a few steps behind men. I have mellowed down in recent yrs and no longer feel that everything must be 50/50. However, i believe that a 60 (men) 40 (women) ratio is attainable, desirable, and mandatory. However, even after 100 yrs of female emancipation, this still seems like a far-away goal with countries like Australia only having a mere 18% or so women in parliament and the largest democracy in the world, India, having a shockingly low 10% only. And they're debating a Women's Reservation Bill in India now on whether to reserve 30% of parliament for women parliamentarians which is like hotly debated and having been proposed since 1996. I mean, hello, enough with the talking and bring it through...with only a 10% representation, they NEED this reservation bill...heck, if 60 yrs of democracy can't lift women up to even that figure (which is wholly unsatisfactory in my opinion as i said earlier it must be at LEAST 40%) then don't bs me about women being able to do it on their merits,etc without quotas...
This also brings me to the issue of male quotas...it seems that whenever female quotas in anything is brought up, there's always heated debate..but whenever male quotas are brought up, especially in the education sector to ensure more male teachers as male role models in schools, almost everyone agrees, or at least, theres much less controversy...remember the 'crisis of masculinity' debate which came up in the mid-2000s in Australia anyone? It occured when 'family-values' Howard PM was concerned on the lack of male teachers in schools and suggested male quotas or better pay to attract men into the education sector. This debate has occured recently in South Korea as well where many, including women, agree on the need for quotas for men, to redress the lack of male role models in schools...i mean HELLO?!!! Am i the only one whom notices the double standard here? What we need is NOT male quotas for men, we need to address the root problem of why men are not getting into the teaching profession, which is the low pay and career advancement. So we should be raising the pay of teachers in Australia and South Korea similarly and not lowering standards to allow men in. Similarly, the more potent and glaringly obvious question, why are we as a society so concerned with the lack of male role models for children and teenagers? What is this thing of the fear of loss of masculinity? I mean do we get so riled up when there's loss of feminine qualities? Or is it a fear of male children turning 'soft' 'effeminate' or even worse...GAY without macho men in their lives?? This leads to sexism again and even alittle homophobia...
I mean i NEVER hear about the lack of FEMALE role models in the legal, government, architecture, mechanic, fashion, culinary, engineering, construction, ETC industries which are ALL male-majority industries..i mean do we EVER complain and talk about quotas in all the above industries for female due to the 'lack of female role models'?? The answer is a resounding NO, so why when in one of the FEW industries where women actually make up the majority (and you may think otherwise, but really women only make up the majority in nursing, teaching, sex industry, domestic work, and...hhhmmm..thats it??) we have a ruckus on how there's a 'crisis' of lack of men...blatantly DOUBLE STANDARDS! I'd love to hear the day when we decide to even discuss quotas for women in government, law, engineering, fashion( yes, even this industry is male-dominated, albeit more gay males than straight males but still men nevertheless!) , construction, and almost every industry i can think of and debate the crisis the lack of women role models at the top causes to young women and teenage girls of our communities.
I'd just like to end with a statement which I heard Gloria Steinem (my role model, one of them) make in an Oprah Show early this year: That what we have now is a dangerous throwback of the arguement that was used back in the 50s against feminism, that we didn't need it as it was women's 'natural role' to be where they were and performing what they were doing....however, nowadays, it becomes that yes we needed (notice the past tense) feminism but that now we no longer need feminism anymore as women have already 'made it' so to speak and thus once again, feminism is said to be unnececessary and 'outdated' when everything i've written above shows that women are still far from even my 60/40 ratio of equality...
Thus, at the end of the day, I'm still a militant and proud feminist working towards an acceptable, if not completely, equal society between the genders.
Earlier Posts on Women's Issues: