The Roles and Struggles of Women in the Society
Critical Theory Today
The Roles and Struggles of Women in the Society
Throughout history, women have been fighting for their position in society. During this endless battle, they still must hurdle the challenges of the present as society continues to present the challenges of being a woman. With that assertion, I would like to explore the roles and struggles of women in society. Women may have fought for their rights in the past but are still in battle as they face different versions of struggles and expectations that society put on their shoulders.
Women are known for their resilience in all forms. They are known to be capable of performing various roles which then put on their shoulders the expected roles that society expects from them. Given that, it can be asserted that these expectations are not necessarily the measurement or the essence of womanhood of a woman, since she has the power over her life than society has over her.
Despite the call and improvement for gender equality, women’s status in society cannot be considered to have entirely improved as to how it was in the past. Women may have been politically, economically, and professionally elevated but still, oppression in different forms is noticeable. Oppression as well as different forms of pressure take into the form of expectations that women should subscribe to if the society leaning on the patriarchal end would be followed.
The General View
Many think that the worse problem women face is the expectations for women to get married. Some women are said to be oppressed by patriarchy economically, politically, socially, and psychologically when they cannot be allowed to choose for their own lives (Tyson, 2006). In the past, women bring honor to their families when they marry men who are highly established and well-educated. Their achievements depend on their husbands. If they marry good men, that is a feather on their hats. The incantation to see one’s future spouse shows how conscious a woman can be in determining her spouse. This only shows that in that and even at present, the pressure for women to get married is still lingering as if it was the only way to her happiness.
Others think it is having a child. Although many would assert that having a child is a woman’s essence, I would strongly underpin that it will still be based on her choice if she was a child or not. The entire world cannot pressure her to have a child if she is not willing to have one. After all, this is not a gauge of being a true woman since everyone is entitled to their decision.
Still, others think that women are expected to be tolerant despite the pain for the sake of the family. Cases of infidelity and abuse are sometimes brushed off by reminding the wife that the children will need a father and that’s why she should forgive the husband instead. This role should be erased as every woman deserves to be respected. She has the right to leave especially if she is already abused and is no longer treated correctly. Her life does not depend on her husband nor is she at the mercy of her husband’s life and resources.
These are just a few of the expected roles that women have in society which places weight on their shoulders. This has been going on in the past and is continuing at present making the lives of women more challenging than necessary. I want to argue that the two main issues women face are they are expected to get married, bear a child, and be tolerant of any problem just for the family.
Objectification of Women
The media will usually define “desirable” women as perfect creatures. For women, it will mean a smaller waist, bigger boobs, fairer complexion, pointed nose, and anything that will make a woman appear sexual. Perfection is often related to desirability. This projection plants pressure on women to be at their best appearance based on how society expects them to be.
The message of the video is that women can be objectified and the best avenue for this objectification is an advertisement. The media creates an impossible image that could not be achieved (Kilbourne, 2014). This is achieved through Photoshop editing. No matter how much a person tries to reach the image that is presented through magazines, television advertisements, etc., he/she will never succeed since the target is impossible to achieve. However, it should be underscored that most of the time, the set unachievable standards are on women. I personally have seen numerous advertisements sexualizing women in products that are not even connected to sex, women who are naked or almost naked are always included. Aside from that, the standard of beauty that is only achievable through surgery is often promoted.
These advertisements promoting a certain kind of standard of beauty can harm the esteem of certain people which include girls who are far from skinny, who have tan to the brown complexion, or those who are not sexy enough to meet the standards. These could be people from other races and ethnicity. Setting these groups aside, people in general who cannot meet the standards will get affected. This will negatively impact the self-esteem of mostly women and some men. With the impossible-to-achieve standards, the advertisement appears on television and all forms of media communicating how women and men should be and describing how beauty is.
This will then post a problematic issue since people will continue to pursue an unachievable goal frustrating themselves in the process. The positive aspect is that whitening products and beautification products will help improve the economy while on the negative aspect, the concept of beauty will be twisted and impossible to get.
With that, the objectification of women and even men leads to the presentation of a different version of beauty that is far-fetched. This means that the standards of beauty will remain unmet and will just be gained through Photoshop and only through Photoshop. Perfection never exists and it will never be achieved.
Violence against Women
The struggles of women in society do not end with objectification as violence against women cases is seen all over the world. This violence is in form of physical, verbal, emotional, and even economic or financial abuse. The issue of rape all over the world is also a major dimension in the violence umbrella. In that light, despite being in the modern setting, women are still facing various forms of violence not only from strangers but also from their partners or family placing them in a struggle that may test even the strongest woman on earth.
Violence against women can take various forms but most of these are done by women’s intimate partners. According to World Health Organization, violence against women is regarded to be a major health problem and is an outright violation of women’s human rights (n.p.). It is estimated that in every three women, one of them has experienced some form of violence done by either a stranger or by her own partner. Furthermore, there are 38% of murders committed by male partners and not even by someone distant from these women (WHO, 2021.).This shows that violence against women is one of the challenges of womanhood faced not only by one state or country but by the entire world. This posits how other men still perceive women based on how they treat them.
Another issue of violence will be rape which is still prevalent everywhere. As a matter of fact, about 1 in 16 American women had their first sexual intercourse in form of rape which is practically done by their partners (Lam, 2018). This is an alarming global issue as this is happening incessantly all over the world. Worst cases vary from a baby less than a year old being raped down to the murder and torture of women who were sexually abused by a number of men all at the same time. In some countries, rape victims are even married off to their perpetrators. This aggravates the problem. The issue of rape presents how women end up being prey to sexual predators and ending up helpless in the arms of the people who should have protected them from the perpetrators themselves.
These concerns only shadow how many of the women are still seen as objects of sexual fantasy or someone lower than males which is deliberately wrong. Despite being in the modern world, this still becomes a problem of a society that women have been suffering in the past and even perhaps in the future.
Gender equality may be put forward by this time. Some may say that women are already at the same level as men. However, there are still dimensions that prove that women have still problems that are deeply rooted in a society highly influenced by patriarchy. Women have their struggles and expected roles that place them in uncomfortable situations. There may have been incidents when they violated these expectations and they were even considered rude or not behaving like a woman. As mentioned above, women still experience objectification and various forms of assault and violence. These are happening every day all over the world. These are also further backed up by the expectations of society that appears to attempt to size up the essence of womanhood through marrying or having a husband as well as having a baby. These are in fact the choice of women and are not bases for their essence as women nor even as human beings.
Barry, Peter. (1995). Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. 2nd ed. New York: Manchester University Press. Print.
Kilbourne, Jean. "The Dangerous Ways Ads See Women". YouTube, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy8yLaoWybk&fbclid=IwAR373nSgF8V8TW5JsX3EQRT4dLTp2EME7FQ1-l1_bMtZ1HUowsQBNlGZqTw.
Lam, Kristin. (2018). "First Sexual Experience of Women: Rape". Usatoday.Com, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/09/16/first-sexual-experience-women-rape-study/2347264001/.
Tyson, Lois. (2006). Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide, 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, Print.
World Health Organization. "Violence Against Women". Who. Int, 2021,https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women