BY RILEY FANNING
Many Americans would agree with the claim that modern day America has come a long way in terms of its progressiveness pertaining to gender. Women and men are, for the most part, seemingly equal. Despite the appearance of full equality, there is still a need for efforts in trying to bridge the gender gaps that exist in different sectors of society.
The widespread view many Americans hold about the advancement of this society is one of positivity. Many believe that we are light-years ahead compared to the rest of the world, but there are still huge social inequalities, especially relating to women and politics.
Rapper T.I. made headlines recently when asked about whether or not he would be voting for democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the upcoming presidential election. Instead of supporting or denouncing her policies, or even discussing anything relevant to her campaign, T.I. decided to use this golden opportunity to make blatant sexist generalizations about women.
“Not to be sexist, but I can’t vote for the leader of the free world to be a woman. Just because, every other position that exists, I think a woman could do well. But, the president? It’s kinda like, I just know that women make rash decisions emotionally––they make very permanently, cemented decisions—and then later, it’s kind of like it didn’t happen, or they didn’t mean for it to happen,” said rapper T.I.
This statement not only puts all women in a narrowly defined box of unfair gender associations, but also denies the possibility of men having emotions themselves. Being born a male does not mean that one is incapable of being unstable or making rash decisions. Those are individual personality attributes, rather than concrete characteristics of one entire gender.
He went so far as to claim that the fictional “Loch Ness monster” would have a better chance of getting elected president than a woman. One could dismiss this as a one off, uneducated comment by an irrelevant rapper, but it points to a larger ideology about how women in politics are viewed in America.
In this modern era, we still have some people using the same baseless excuses about a person’s gender as way to make claims about whether or not they have the intellectual or emotional capabilities needed for successful large scale leadership.
“I think it’s juvenile and disgusting that to this day, people are still using a woman’s gender as a justification for their sexist ideas,” said Vishva Patel, Salisbury University sophomore, in reaction to T.I.’s comments.
“I don’t think I would vote for Hillary personally, but not because she’s a woman- I think a woman or a man could handle the office, it’s just worked out so far that it’s only been men,” said Luke Downes, SU sophomore, in a different approach.
Turning to look outside the United States, many countries have had women leaders. Even in places in the Middle East, which is often looked down upon for its supposed universal treatment of women, has had more heads of state than the U.S. has.
“They have had more female representatives, more female heads of state, in Turkey than we have in the United States,” religion scholar Reza Aslan said.
As a whole, America considers itself a leader in regards to its politics and the evolution of women. Still though, sexist comments are made about what women and men are capable of. The same outdated notions are repeated year after year.
Women had to fight to gain the right to vote in 1920, although women of color fought restrictions and hardship with voting until the 1960s. Society has definitely improved since then, but improvement does not mean we should become stagnant.
Full equality is still elusive, and there is still a need to challenge societal norms in order to keep progressing towards a better America.