The Glass Ceiling: It’s Still There

I recently read an Odyssey article that left me in shock. I was shocked that this piece of writing was so well received when its points do not line up with the reality we live in. The article falsely identifies feminism as blaming everything on, and hating, men. This is not the case, as previously stated. However, perhaps it seems like men are being blamed because our society is male-dominated, and men, for the most part, make the rules.

Let’s clear something up; feminism is NOT a man-hating philosophy. To say you are a feminist is to say you believe in equality between genders. This is not my opinion or my take on feminism, this is what it is truly defined as. We need feminism because society is not doing a great job at achieving this. Feminism is inclusive. Both males and females can, and do, identify as feminist. Feminism is synonymous with the women’s movement and why people would be against a movement of equality is unclear to me.

Yes, we have come a long way. Yes, in relation to some other countries, women in the United States are doing great. However, acknowledging and being proud of our past accomplishments should not blind us from seeing how far we have to go.

The article dismisses the observation that women’s sports have significantly less coverage than men’s. I am confused as to why the author would discredit this, since it is a fact. SportsCenter, ESPN’s flagship program, dedicated just 2 percent of its airtime to women’s sports in 2014, according to the report — a figure that has remained flat since 1999. The article argues “how many women are turning on SportsCenter in the middle of the day?” Woah. Okay. First, how many men are turning on SportsCenter in the middle of the day? Most people have jobs that would prevent them from doing this. Second, it is not that women’s sports are only on in the “middle of the day”, it is that they are barely on the air at all. Even if they were on in the “middle of the day” that would be progress, but still not a resolution. Women do not receive prime time coverage. Women’s sports cannot gain an audience if audiences are not presented opportunities to tune in. Third, this statement enforces the stereotype that woman do not like sports. I don’t think I need to elaborate on that.

This Odyssey article continues on to say that there is “considered to be a glass ceiling”, as if the glass ceiling is a topic up for debate. The fact is, the glass ceiling exists. Sexism exists. The wage gap exists. The author suggests we “stop blaming men and society about how we continue to “struggle” and praise the female gender for working hard to make a mark on today’s workforce. We’re doing a kick-ass job, let’s stop the complaining.” Again, feminism is not a man-hating concept. Again, we can be proud and applaud the many accomplished women who exist without closing our eyes to the strides that still need to be made. It is not complaining when it is bringing awareness through education. But honestly, sometimes someone does need to complain because they have had enough and are ready for change. I, for example, will never apologize for complaining about getting paid $0.79 for every $1.00 a man makes for equal work just because of my gender. When people are silent and accepting, nothing changes.

The funny thing is, the last sentences of this article are: “There is no “dominant” gender. There’s just men and women. Women and men. We coincide with each other, that’s that. Time to embrace it.” Based on these sentences alone, the author is a feminist. Plot twist. I’ll say it again for the people in the back: Feminism is a movement for equality.

Being a feminist does not mean women have to be “manly” or go against every single stereotype. In this era of third wave feminism, women embrace that they have the choice. Each woman should be able to follow whatever path she wants without facing discrimination. Each woman should embrace their strength as an individual and feel confident in their decisions without societal expectations and messages hindering us.

What is so bad about being a feminist? Is it wanting equality, or recognizing the sexism embedded into our lives? Writer Dale Spender once wrote:

 “Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions, for safety in the streets, for child care, for social welfare, for rape crisis centres, women's refuges, reforms in the law. If someone says, 'Oh, I'm not a feminist', I ask, 'Why?”

I encourage you to think on this, and consider what is standing in the way of you identifying as a feminist. What is standing in the way of you joining a movement towards equality? It does not mean you have to protest in the streets, but it does mean you are willing to speak up for the rights women deserve. It means you celebrate the cracks made in the glass ceiling by many powerful women, but know that it is still there.