HIStory vs. HERstory

Although the title of this post might fool you, I promise I am not an overzealous feminist. Before you continue reading, let me be clear, I don’t believe in equal rights for women, I believe in equal rights and equal treatment for everyone. The fact that feminism even exists appalls me – the fact that we have this radical notion that women are actually people is ridiculous. What else would we be exactly? But I digress…

Getting back to my original point, the idea for this post came to me as I was sitting in my business communication class Tuesday evening, drooling over the cahhhhh-yuuuutest professor known to manhumankind. My professor started the class off by discussing, what he deemed, the “dark side of communication.” No, it’s not run by Darth Vader, but instead, we took a look at how history has always been about men. And because of this, men have taken the forefront in the workplace, in the home, and in society. It’s always been about the guys, and heaven forbid a woman come along and shake things up. We praise women for being strong and independent (here’s looking at you, Queen Bey), almost as if it’s a rarity, an anomaly, but for men it’s an everyday kind of thing. And the stronger and more independent these men are, the more we mere mortal women must deign to be at their beckoned call, satisfying their every need. Now thankfully, we have moved past the glorified housewife image that Donna Reed so thoughtfully brought to us, but nevertheless, there is still an existing gap between men and women in the professional realm. And that gap’s true form is gender bias.

In my humble opinion, men and women are equal…in theory. Based on our day to day lives, for the most part, both genders are ostensibly equal, but in practice we find a very different story. Granted, many people would tell me that the barriers have been broken – women can pretty much do as they please with their lives just as men do (so long as neither break any laws), and thanks to a societal progression, women do not face oppression. Just sexual harassment.

But in all seriousness, please remember I do not condone or support sexual harassment against either sex (because it does happen to males, too, but the female species has the perk of getting more coverage on the issue). My main point is that because the past has put a priority on men and their advancement, we still see visible differences in the workplace between men and women. While women have equal opportunities to apply for the same job positions as men (as well as earn said position), no one can deny that the gender pay gap is still prevalent enough. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women only earned 62% as much as men (for the same job) in 1979, and luckily, the gap has gradually decreased since then, with women making 81% as much as men in 2006. The problem is that rate has stayed pretty much flat since then. On average, women make 79 cents to every man’s dollar.

Credit to mintlifeblog.

Credit to mintlifeblog.

Bullcrap
Gradually, the West and East coasts are catching on that this salary discrepancy isn’t going to fly. In 2010, women, on average, made only $6,000 less than their male counterparts for the same job. However, the middle of our nation is seriously lackadaisical in getting with the times. States such as Louisiana and Wyoming are the farthest behind in attempting to achieve equal payment for both women and men. In those states, women tend to make $16,000 – $18,000 less than men. And it still blows my mind because it’s for the same. damn. job. The justification that some people have given for this occurrence is that women can become pregnant and subsequently, will take a leave of absence that lasts for months on end. To all of you that think that way, I must ask, are you clairvoyant? Yes, a woman’s body has the capability to carry a child, but to be clear, it’s not like she can crawl on top of herself and get pregnant. Pregnancy is a two way thing here. Not only that, but what’s to stop a man (or any person for that matter) from accidentally falling down a staircase and breaking their hip or getting struck by a vehicle on their daily bike ride? One of the beautiful things about humanity is that we cannot see into the future. But on the off chance that you can, feel free to send me next week’s winning lottery numbers.

Even our perception of women varies in the workplace. While men come across as assertive, some feel a woman comes across as bossy or pushy. Or if a woman decides to work and pursue higher or secondary education, she’s selfish, but a man is dedicated. The reason: because to some, a woman’s expected “job” is to be a homemaker, a housewife, the role of the child bearer and rearer, so to speak. To the whole selfish point, I myself have been called selfish for working full time and pursuing a master’s degree, and I don’t even have any children to rear! (Thankfully). The adjectives given to ambitious women stem from the fact that people (this includes both men and women) view these women as a threat to the status quo. Much to my dismay, that metaphorical glass ceiling is still fortified as a majority of today’s top executives happen to be men. But did you hear the news about Sheryl Sandberg? Us women are making waves.

Super Duper
And the thing that may be most baffling is that some women believe they are not entitled to equal pay. A study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University and Harvard University gave descriptions of men and women with equivalent qualifications who had applied for the same job (a fictitious position), but when the participants of the study were given the information that the job candidates had negotiated for a higher salary, both male and female participants responded with the notion that women were at fault for doing this…but it was perfectly acceptable for a man to do so. Again, this lends to the fact that we have not completely broken free of our gender stereotypes in the workplace. Women can have these “male traits,” but then what do we become? The bitch.

So how do women get around this? How do women receive equal pay and earn those promotions? As of right now, the answer lies in being a master of self-monitoring. The Stanford Graduate School of Business conducted a study in 2011 that illustrated women are more than welcome to have more masculine traits such as assertiveness, aggressiveness, and confidence (since when did we deem these as “male” traits?), but they need to combine these behaviors with more communal ones and adapt to the given business situation and regulate when they should and should not behave in such a manner. If they could do this, the study stated that these women would be more likely to receive a promotion than their competition. Again though, I do not view this as a true remedy because at the end of the day, women are forced to justify their behavior or fall in line with the traditional path that has been so graciously paved for us.

In the end though, I believe it is up to us – whether you are a man or a woman – to decide where we will go in life. Our strides and successes should be neither promoted nor limited because of our gender. Hard work, dedication, a little bit of a luck, and confidence (which should be viewed as a trait both men and women should be proud to possess) – that’s the ticket to success and one of the best ways to write our stories. His or hers.

Comments

  1. History has always been about men because men made history. They made it, they wrote it, and they interpreted their own actions and writings regarding their actions. Historically women were relegated to the background. That is what it is. One could argue all day that it’s wrong and unfair and sexist, but it doesn’t make any difference. It doesn’t matter whether it’s ‘fair,’ it’s the reality of history. You cannot change what occurred. “Herstory” is a ridiculously stupid notion of trying to integrate a feminist perspective where none exists. Feminist perspectives may exist for current events, not for historical events. And feminist writers continue to be ignorant to the fact “history” is not “his story.” It comes from the Greek “historein”, meaning ‘inquiry’ or ‘narrative.’ It has nothing to do with “his story.” Trying to be funny, cute, insulting, or whatever only damages the feminist’s argument and makes their point moot.

    • Jason, I do understand the notion of where the word “history” comes from – yes, the whole play on “his story” is just that – it’s a play on words. And I must disagree with you – feminist perspectives did not exist for historical events??? They sure as hell did. Maybe they were not as publicized as men’s were, but isn’t that the point of what feminists are trying to change? Women did not go through history without any opinion or interpretation or perspective – the article I wrote was purely to highlight the inequities that women and men deal with in society.

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