Women in America are raised well, loved by their parents, allowed to have hopes and dreams, attend free school, hold jobs, get promoted, choose a husband, have children, watch them grow, grow old, receive retirement money from the government, save money with senior discounts, and watch their grandchildren grow. Still, men and women are not treated equally nor considered 100% equal, and American women want more rights and equality. But let’s not forget to count our blessings, everyone. It could be a heckuva lot worse.
When you hear the words, “arranged marriage,” you may think of such fiction as Luis Sachar’s Holes or the classic Princess Bride. However, to many women alive today, these words are commonplace in their culture. In India, marriage is often if not always arranged by the couple’s parents and based on such compatibility details as the couple’s horoscopes, castes, religions, and family backgrounds. Though true romantic love is still celebrated in the media (Bollywood films), they are expected to follow their parents’ decision without hesitation. Arranged marriage is a tradition that has persevered despite the modernization of India, and we are blessed in our country to have such freedom of choice.
Women in China face similar challenges every day. Since the creation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Chinese women have inconsistently been granted more and more freedoms, rising from 7% of the workforce to 38% by 1992. Despite this improvement, females are still considered second-class citizens. This is evident by the high female infanticide rates since the creation of their one-child-per-couple policy. Chinese couples tend to want sons so that their legacy can live on, and either abandon or kill their baby daughters in order to legally have another opportunity to have a son. This is very illegal in the U.S., both killing your infants as well as limiting a family’s freedom to procreate.
Female genital mutilation is practiced in many parts of the world, but the video I once watched about infibulation pertained specifically to regions of Africa, such as Sudan, Somalia and Djabouti. Infibulation is when, at a young age, the female’s clitoris and vaginal lips are cut off, and, still without anesthesia, the wound is brutally sewn shut, leaving only a small hole for urine and menstrual blood to pass through. After healing closed, the vagina is ripped back open on their wedding night, traditionally by an animal’s horn. This incredibly painful procedure is customary in their culture. God bless America.
So all things considered, America isn’t as terrible a place for women as we’ve been making it out to be all semester. Instead of this half empty glass we’ve been focusing on, after writing this blog, that same glass is looking pretty damn full. Still, why would the U.S. only be ranked #19 on the list of Top Countries for Gender Equality? Clearly, we have issues to address and room to grow. But if you get impatient, ladies, or just don’t have the time to wait, well… you can always move to Iceland!