When did we decide to box out women and the elderly from the rest of society? Despite being just as capable (if not moreso) than the rest, there is a tendency to withhold opportunities for women and the aged.
Susan Douglas points out that there are more women over 50 in the United States now than ever before. So what does this mean, and what kind of paradigm shift can we expect?
For decades, media industries have been governed primarily by older white men. This means that the perspective of women—especially older women—have been left out. In addition, the advertising industry is incredibly youth-oriented. Susan believes that this is caused by the misconception that if you start liking a product when you’re young, they have your attention for life.
These two industries have created an interaction in bias where older women are no longer relevant. But what’s interesting is that there is a steady trend of older female celebrities who are fighting back. For example, the Grace and Frankie show on Netflix became a huge hit because it’s giving society a chance to look at older women in a new perspective. The reality is that older women on the ground are living their lives very differently than their peers of a previous generation—and thankfully, Hollywood is beginning to catch up to this demographic revolution.
“Feminism does not end when you're 50 years old, right? Feminism should be a mode of support and sustenance and activism throughout your whole life.” - Susan Douglas
Susan points out the need for older women to reach out to younger women, starting discussions on what it means to be a feminist and what it means to age. We are bombarded by advertisements that encourage older women to “defy aging,” as if it isn’t an inevitable biological process.
We need to address ageism in our society. It’s the one issue everybody has to go through eventually. People in their seventies and eighties aren’t lonely, decrepit, antisocial creatures. They are fully functioning human beings who enjoy being physically and sexually active.
The United States is lagging behind when it comes to age equity and quality of life for women. It’s time we change that narrative by focusing on structural change. This includes the inequitable distribution of wealth and gerrymandering, for example.
Change will take more than a shift in perception. We also need to act on structural barriers for the disenfranchised. And this goes beyond women and the elderly.
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The women’s rights movement dates back to as far as 1848. It has made significant strides to ensure women are being treated fairly at home, at work, and in society as a whole. This manifests in equal pay, a union for working women, and the right to vote.
Women’s suffrage became the grounds from which women could put in place the various rights and laws that cater to needs specific to their lived experience. Now, what does it mean to be a woman today?
In this episode, we’re going to be discussing women’s suffrage, the women’s rights movement, and the social aspects of patriarchy. Joining us today is Susan Ware, author of various books including Beyond Suffrage: Women in the New Deal, Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote, and many more.
Women’s rights have always been human rights. This encompasses all women, not just a certain group or race. The basis for women’s rights is to ensure that women are equal and to be given the same amount of rights and responsibilities as men.
It was discussed that one look at the structures and hierarchies that make up the society we live in today shows that there are power struggles, glass ceilings, and unequal handouts for opportunity. In most scenarios, men were found to be in these groups of privilege while women were marginalized and disenfranchised.
How, then, do we empower women so that they can operate on an equal playing field? According to Susan Ware, political power is paramount. If women never secured the right to vote nor hold office, they would have continued to go unrepresented and unheard. As a result, the win for women’s suffrage helped secure a variety of other rights for women because it gave them the economic, political, social, and cultural tools they needed to succeed.
Again, women’s rights are human rights. Being biologically female does not make you a lesser human being than men, and your rights shouldn’t be different. The sexes’ differences should only be in biological function, not in rights. Humanity, as a collective, has the responsibility of making sure that men and women are equal—regardless of race or religion.
The Nineteenth Amendment brought about the right of American women to vote. It drastically changed the Constitution. This drastic change was brought about by equally drastic actions; it called for the struggles and efforts of so many people, with supporters carrying out rallies and marches, before finally achieving women’s suffrage.
Another law that greatly affected African Americans is The Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed discriminatory voting practices against African Americans. Harassment, intimidation, and physical violence discouraged African Americans from practising their right to vote. As a result, they were unable to fully wield their political power even though they were already allowed to vote.
This also concerned African American women as they faced not only sexism but racism as well. It’s an indication that the struggles of marginalized communities do intersect and are doubly felt by certain groups. The fight for women’s rights isn’t just limited to the right to vote, but concerns a broader movement that also shares its struggles with other social movements.
No one ever achieves total success when it comes to social movements, and the same can be said for women’s rights. The struggle will always be an up and down battle of wins and losses. However, our takeaway shouldn’t be to just give up, but must instead continue to fight for what’s right and just. Additionally, educating and empowering the next generation ensures that the movement will live on.
It is time for us to acknowledge: there are patriarchal aspects that are ingrained into our norms and social structures. These aspects indirectly hold back women, and consequently, society in general. This also reinforces the perspective of a patriarchal view, and convinces individuals into thinking that this is normal.
The notion that women have only recently been able to participate in the broader world is false. Both women and men have always built history, and will continue to build the path towards our future.
However, it is unfortunate that women have not always been given the credit they deserve. This is evident throughout our history, given the amount of notable male individuals compared to females. Because of this, it’s important to educate people about the contributions that women have made throughout history.
Through the women’s rights movement, a sense of solidarity and camaraderie was formed for those involved, especially women. This created a feeling of joy of being united towards a common goal. Working together and sharing their struggles has united women in realizing the rights they should have gotten from the beginning.
With every little success, the human rights that women have been deprived of are lessening, and despite the frustrations that come with any social movement. We are now in an era that the previous generation could only dream of, and that is something to take pride in.
Within the local and even national levels, women are forming collectives and organizations that aim to tackle the problems that plague our society. These include the aforementioned women’s rights, but also problems like climate change and pollution.
TARTLE’s mission is to become one of the platforms and tools that women can use to champion their cause and make their voices heard. The marketplace provides a level playing field for anybody, regardless of sex, ethnicity, location, or race, to do their part in helping humanity take the next big step forward.
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