We Americans like to think of ourselves as better than most nations. In many ways we are. However, as demonstrated in Donald Trump’s sexist rhetoric during the presidential campaign and his subsequent victory, we are far away from gender equality.
Women in the workforce?
As the most powerful nation in the world, the United States in the global gender gap index ranks 28th place, behind Estonia, Bolivia, Barbados, and Mozambique. And although it’s sixth in economic participation and opportunity, the U.S. ranks only 64th in health and survival and 72nd in political empowerment.
Women represent only approximately 19 percent of the members of the U.S. Congress, which puts us behind countries such as Iraq, Namibia, Mozambique and Afghanistan. Subsequently, in our more than 200 years of history, we have not had a female leader yet, which leaves us behind many countries including Turkey, India, Pakistan, Germany, Malawi, Kosovo — the list goes on.
Similar trends are seen in economic empowerment.
Even though approximately 57.4 percent of students receiving a bachelor’s degree and 62.6 percent of students receiving a master’s degree are women, and they participate in the total U.S. workforce relatively evenly to their proportion in the population, they only make 78.3 cents to every dollar made by men. The top three jobs for women in the United States to date are secretaries/administrative assistants, elementary and middle school teachers and registered nurses.
Women are under-represented in traditional male roles. Among the new hires in the federal government, males account for 80 percent of information technology, 83 percent of engineering, and 92 percent of police officer occupations.
Moreover, women occupy only 4.4 percent of CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies. Barriers for women exist overall in other senior and executive level positions. Subsequently, women over the age of 65 are twice as likely to live in poverty as men of the same age.
Obsessively legislating women’s bodies
While our legislators do little to empower women, they do quite a bit to control them. In the last few years alone, out-of-control legislators have made countless efforts to regulate women’s bodies while they have done little to regulate anything else. God must have told them to do so.
In 2012, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a law that in its original version would have required many women to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds; it was revised due to the outrage that it has sparked. Only then did legislators in Pennsylvania, Alabama and Idaho back down with their own transvaginal requirements.
Prior to that, Republican Rep. Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin, then a state senator, had introduced a bill that declared non-marital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect. In 2013, Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona introduced a national bill that would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy without regard to rape, incest or health of the mother. South Dakota state Rep. Phil Jensen, now a state senator, tried to make killing abortion providers a justifiable homicide. In Alabama, a law was passed to allow the state to represent fetuses.
It must be noted that concern for unborn life is a noble cause. However, the obsession with fetuses in the United States has little to do with respecting life. Otherwise, the same legislators would work to protect those lives after they are born too.
Moving forward: Respecting one another
Donald Trump only brought to surface how we really feel about women in this country, but he also displays what it allegedly means to be a man. This is very important because the key to understanding sexism is, among other things, understanding the stereotypes that we have of men: individuals who are perfectly fine with touching a woman without her consent, objectifying them, lacking respect for their partners, and laughing off degrading comments as locker room talk.
Our society will always be as good as the level of respect we have for one another, regardless of gender, sexual identity, race, and other superficial traits. With a president-elect who has little regard for women as well as for men, we have to make sure that in the next four years of his term, we don’t turn back the clock on progress.
Alev Dudek is a German-American author. As an established scholar in diversity, she served on the executive board of the International Society for Diversity Management in Berlin as well as the City of Kalamazoo (MI) Community Relations Board. She received The National Security Education Program (NSEP) award in 2014.