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Opinion | Being a female in today's society comes with many unrealistic expectations and standards

Rachel's Reflections

By Rachel Sacks
On March 29, 2013

Being a female can suck. There are times when it can be great, but in today's society that is not the message being sent.

Women are not only seen as a minority "interest" group in many situations, but are also victims (and too often perpetrators) of misogyny and other harmful acts, and under immense pressure to measure up to certain impossible standards and expectations.

In the 2012 elections last fall, it seemed as though women were nothing more than a group that politicians tried to capitalize on, using the gender to support and propagate their own ideas about what they thought was best for women as a whole.

From debating the definition of "legitimate" rape last September to states passing laws banning abortion, the rights of women are constantly in the sphere of political discourse-without actually taking into consideration the many different women that make up over half the population of the country.

How can Congress and the other political bodies that govern our lives make such personal decisions about a female's body, when the majority of these groups are made up of older, white males?

How am I expected to put personal decisions about my own life and my body into the hands of 50 to 60-year-old white males?

While the arguments surrounding pro-life and pro-choice, funding for birth control and women's health organizations such as Planned Parenthood remain complex, the decision-making really shouldn't be put onto those who will not have the chance to walk in the shoes of those who will have to make these types of decisions at some point in their life.

If it weren't enough that women are not allowed to take matters about their own bodies into their own hands, we also make up the majority of victims of harmful acts. Women are the most likely victims of sexual assault or rape, with statistics saying 9 out of 10 rape victims are women and one in four college women will be raped according to Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) and The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey respectively.

In light of the recent events in Steubenville, Ohio and how the media portrayed the people involved, it's hard to believe that we are still in a society where it is considered the norm to put blame on the victims of such heinous crimes. While the mainstream media gave sympathy to the two boys who raped the victim, none was given to the girl who was raped. Instead, the focus was put on what she had been doing earlier that night, what she had been wearing, drinking and if she was unconscious.

Too often in cases of rape and assault, the victim is blamed. It's apparently an acceptable idea in today's society that women are asking to be forced to have sex against their will, simply because of how much they drank, what they chose to wear or where they chose to walk.

It is much more likely that a woman will find herself being persuaded by someone to have sex after she said no, than a man would after he said no to sex.

And it's much less likely that a victim will be believed by anyone she reports the attack to, respected by her peers and the media, and that her assailant will serve time for the crime committed.

One of the worst things about being a female though, is the lack of support-even amongst our female peers.

Thin-shaming, fat-shaming, slut-shaming; it seems that many people will find any way to put women down, in order to make themselves seem more "powerful." This is especially true amongst women, from middle school to middle age women.

What both men and women are guilty of though is being too judgmental and setting unrealistic standards for women to meet in society. If we wear our skirts too short, we're slutty and are giving it away; but if we're wearing dresses that cover everything, we're prudes. If we drink, we're asking for it; if we don't, we're boring. We're expected to maintain perfect and too often unrealistic bodies and figures, but guys will say they love it when we eat burgers and fries. Women are expected to be smart and go into fields of science and technology, but not too smart so that they don't overshadow the men who have been the leaders in these fields for the longest.

Whether they are putting down other women to put themselves on a higher platform or to appeal to someone else, girl-hate is all too common. It can all be summed up pretty well by the generational classic, Mean Girls, in which Tina Fey tells the female high school students that they "have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it alright for guys to call you sluts and whores!"

So not only do we have to measure up to unrealistic standards, we get to deal with the idea that our fellow females are our competition and that we can't make decisions about our personal health. Being a female in today's society really can suck.


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