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Even with Women’s Week underway, inequality still exists

Maddie's Matters

By Maddie LaPlante-Dube, Columnist

This week is International Women's Week, which means it is high time to take a break from the insanity of the presidential election and talk about women.

Tuesday, March 8th, was the 108th International Women's Day, and a few of my peers got together to make podcasts on their experience as females in modern society.

Many of their podcasts, however, did not talk about the wonders of being a woman today, or about how they felt safe or comfortable in certain parts of modern society. Much of the female experience they shared detailed the ways in which they had been made to feel inadequate, or how they dealt with the ways their bodies were looked at.

My friend, Clare, did a podcast on slut-shaming, in which I was a guest. We asked some women to consider submitting stories about their personal experiences with slut-shaming, and some were, surprisingly, horrifically regressive.

Take Kaeleigh, for example. Years ago, she was an RA at her undergrad university and it was Halloween. She had recently dislocated her shoulder from a bad fall, but she was getting ready to go out in a Catholic school girl outfit when she ran into one of her residents, who was really drunk. When he started hitting on her and she rejected his inappropriate advances, he twisted her arm behind her back (knowing that her shoulder was dislocated) and groped her. When she yelled, he said, "Well you shouldn't have been wearing that if you didn't want me to do this."

Her boss told her the same thing. No punishment came to the resident.

And what about Alice? She was going for a run, wearing running shorts, when she tried to dodge a group of guys who were walking slowly in front of her. When she tried to pass them, one of the men groped her and the rest of them started yelling obscene comments.

Alice, not to be objectified, turned and told them off. Some of the men were shocked that she had even addressed it. One of them said she shouldn't have been wearing shorts and that she was a slut. No one who was listening to them helped her.

Sure, women have come a long way in some respects, but we have so far to go. Women are sexualized, they are objectified and the progress that feminist movements have made has actually slowed in the past year. 2015 saw wage gap progress between men and women slow almost to a halt. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, pay increases for women plateaued in the early 2000s and have not gone up since.

According to the Global Gender Gap report, since 2006, "an extra quarter of a billion women have entered the labor force." And yet the average annual pay of women has only now equaled what men earned 10 years ago.

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Signup for our newsletter, an extension of TIME, estimates the gender pay gap, at this rate, will not even out until 2058. Based on the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap study, however, it looks like the pay gap will not be resolved until later in the 22nd century.

For my female friends to describe their specifically female experiences in a more negative light than a positive one on International Women's Day is telling. Women being shamed for wearing clothes they feel comfortable in during the 21st century is crazy. Feminist progress is slowing down and it is disturbing.

So sure, we have secured the vote. We even have a woman successfully running a campaign for president. The 21st century has been a time of intense change for women in terms of securing rights and recognition. But make no mistake - sexism will continue to permeate everything as long as our global society remains primarily patriarchal.