By Tina Bastin
Lexington High School Student
Global Tech Leader
“Women aren't objects to be played with, they are humans to be respected; we give rise to humanity.” ~Tina Bastin
Goal: By promoting STEM studies for women and recognizing the hardships faced by them in the global tech leadership committee, we, as a community, can excel and support each other as one united force against dehumanization and oppression.
What do “women” mean to you? / Perception:
“Women”. This word is perceived differently by people due to their different historical backgrounds. To a homeless individual, it might mean protection. To a daughter, it might mean comfort. To a husband, it might mean love. To a serial killer, however, it might mean another object to be played with. I understand that every individual part of humanity has endured different experiences in life, shaping him or her as the individual they are today. However, this gives no excuse to treat women differently than men. Women have the same capacity to live purposefully and enjoy the same freedom as men, however, they are deprived of these rights due to a variety of factors. I am not saying that all men are manipulative and negatively impact women—there are many men out there that are inspiring and respectful towards the identity of a women. However, a prominent amount of men in society still remain as dehumanizing entities against women.
The Beating of the Heart and the Ironic Cycle of Life:
Women have to face a constant fear, tightly coiled away in their mind. Imagine a young women standing at the crossroads of her life, confused and terrified thinking about her future. She looks to her right, and she sees a man gazing at her and checking her out with a smirk etched on his face. She looks to her left, and she sees her previous company that fired her because they believed she lacked the potential to work due to her gender. She looks behind her, and she sees the tomb of her late friend, who was a victim of sexual assault and ended up committing suicide. She looks ahead, and she sees her future filled with fear and oppression. She looks further, but cannot see anything. She tries persistently, and a dark shadow starts to grasp her. All she sees is a dead end. A dead end. That is it. Is this what women were made for? To endure hardships in life to only result in a dead end? Connecting this to women in the STEM field, as they persistently try to major in these fields, they feel a dark shadow grasping and choking them—this is the response of society’s oppression against the role of women as strong leaders in the engineering, medical, or math fields. Males should not have the power to control the happiness, the freedom, the dreams, and the longevity of an individual. Sexual assault is a major factor that contributes to the mounting pile of a women’s fear in both her social and work place. She can walk outside in bright daylight and still end up in the hands of a man, wanting to use her as an object rather than viewing her as a human. What is it that makes a women more vulnerable to sexual assault than men?
Ironically and sadly, men do not realize that they are taking away a life of a women, yet another women, their mom, had given that same man his life in the first place. She had given him the opportunity to endure joy and adventure. But men, on the other hand, take this life away from women.
Where it all started: Media, Society’s Expectations, Ancient Historical Influence, and Stereotypes
Our society is shaped by the media. Of course, who does not love watching movies and TV shows? However, as entertaining as it could be, in many movies, women are portrayed as inferior through the lens of the director. They seem to be the “easy to get” people; media makes them wear short clothes and expose themselves. I am not suggesting that women are not allowed to wear short clothes- they can wear whatever that satisfies them. However, since media portrays women as objects when they show skin, men in society make this connection and think that it is alright to abduct and assault a women because of the way she dresses. Also females are perceived to be the weaker gender, as they are always being rescued in older movies, such as in Superman where he continuously saves Lois, his lover, empowering men to assume they need to protect and save us. Ultimately they, pushed to think we cannot survive in the real world, believe we are inferior. Men forget that there is more to a woman than looking at how she dresses and what she wears. Men ignore that there is more to a woman than looking at how long her eyelashes are or how full her lips are. Men disregard that there is more to a woman than looking at her contours and straight hair. We all need to start looking at the individual who is living within the woman’s heart, and overcome the barrier created by media. But due to society’s oppression, a majority of the women haven’t been able to express who they are in fear of provoking social rebellions.
Women are expected by society to look beautiful, flirty, and weak. Take a look at Barbie, for example. She is seen with straight hair, long eyelashes, thick rosy lips, pink tinted cheeks, high heels, and with a dress. Society forms these expectations that they demand girls to follow, destroying each teenager’s identity. When thinking of a birthday present for someone, an individual’s mind segregates and forms an idea of what to buy. For a boy, they think of spaceships, cars, and electronic toys, but for a girl, they think of Barbie’s, dollhouses, and makeup. Whether intentionally or not, an individual’s instinct is to divide up what a boy and a girl can handle based on the influence of ancient stereotypes.
Stereotypes play a major role in expanding the issue of women inferiority. Since historically humanity has been created from a male dominated society, the negative stereotypes that surround a women continue to be prominent and affect their daily ways. Dating back to around 600 B.C.E to 600 C.E, when pastoralist societies emerged, men were always the ones who hunted and went to the cities to work, while the women were expected to stay at home and run the family. Another example where women were inferior is in China, in the past, women had to experience foot-binding. Chinese women had to live up to society’s expectations as looking graceful, beautiful, and petite. As time progressed, women were seen as weak and as individuals who cannot handle responsibilities, while men were seen as individuals who had the courage to travel to the cities to support their families and have bigger muscular features. These have been rooted into ancient traditions and views; we have to address the core issue. These negative stereotypes are continuing to discourage the potential that women have within them. All they need is a strong community who will accept them; not one that believes that they are a disgrace to humanity. As girls are continued to be oppressed, mainly during their teenage years, they are distracted away from their dreams, such as majoring in engineering or medicine. Even if you look at a doctor’s magazine, it will present a man with a stethoscope standing in front, and then women standing behind him. Women are not slaves to men!
Hmm Solution Please!
We need to create a community that is supportive of a women’s work and hardships. But we already created this Global Tech Leader Committee, so check that of the list (but of course, we can create other safe environments for women, such as homes). Next, we need to expand our ideas to the rest of the world. We should use the same media that portrays women incorrectly to promote the respect and representation women should receive, which is actually happening right now. People have started to scratch the surface of portraying women as strong leaders. Recently, plus size models have become a trend, breaking the old belief that women could only be petite to be beautiful. Certainly, there has been a breakthrough of the ancient views towards women, however the spirits of male dominance continue to be prominent. Next, we need to start educating men that women are not objects and that we too have a body to be respected, not to be played with. Also, women should be given the same opportunity that men are given in the STEM fields. Women should not be turned down solely based on their sex. To prevent a women from getting discouraged, show her something that empowers and motivates her to keep trying. This may be turning towards her friends for mutual support or engaging in a scientific experiment. Do anything that is able to disregard the negative feeling of inferiority. Gender alone should not have the power to destroy dreams and hard work. We need to support the girl in her dreams to make her realize how powerful and thought-provoking her ideas are to society. It is from here where women can be introduced into the STEM fields and feel a sense of equality to men. I am not saying that there are not any good men out there. I personally know many good-hearted men, however, there is a prominent amount of men out there who are negative forces toward women. Fixing and respecting women is a possible solution to solving this issue.
Hope and Perseverance :)
With dedicated and determined efforts from supporters, I believe that one day we will be able to regain that equality that women lost; we will be able to represent women more in society by engaging them into STEM fields. Each effort we put towards fixing the social expectations and gap gender, will only allow us to get closer to fixing the discrimination, assault, and oppression women face.
It has been a long battle, but till women receive equality, unbiased opportunity, and representation, we, as a community, will strive for justice. Discrimination based on sex should be eliminated. Fighting for feminist rights will allow us to create a global network that is supported by the community, giving rise to a society filled with more women majoring in the STEM fields.
As a community, we hope to work humbly but fiercely to help destroy the gender gaps, preventing women from being discouraged from the STEM fields.