Why are women below men?

(Note: I wrote about 300 words and lost them, so my original draft was way better than this one. Oh well.)

Since the beginning of time, women have been treated with inferiority. Look in any history book and you’ll find something about how men’s accomplishments or rights surpass women’s. You probably know that women received their basic voting rights less than a century ago. Although we have come far compared to women’s previous roles, today they are still faced with discrimination and treated with subordination. Why have women been treated as inferior in the past and why are they still treated as inferior today? What can we do as a society to stop this inequality?

The Good Earth is a novel written by Pearl S. Buck, an American woman who grew up in 20th century China. It revolves around the life of a peasant farmer named Wang Lung who struggles throughout the book with money, self-confidence, and family. In the first chapter, readers are introduced to the idea of female weakness as Wang Lung purchases
a servant, O-lan, to be his wife. Not only does he buy his wife as if she is an object, but he expects her to do his household work and bear his children just as women have always been expected to do so. In this book, the words “slave”, “fool”, and “servant” are interchangeable with the word “woman”. Buck includes the theme of femininity to enrich the story and bring a sense of reality to it. While she shows the hardships of women and their positions in Chinese culture, I came to the realization that this book’s setting is only 100 years ago. How has humanity allowed the oppression of women for…ever? This and the infamous belief that men are superior to women inspire my essential question: Why are women below men?

The answer to that question may lie in the physicality. As socialization began to form, men used their physical strength to assume dominance. Men were strong. Men took positions of power. Men didn’t dictate females as strong or powerful, so females became weak. Their roles developed to be child bearers, house cleaners, and a sidekick to the man. Somewhere along the way, they became less than that: they were slaves, objects, only addressed at the man’s convenience. This is clearly exemplified in The Good Earth.

Another possible answer is blindly-followed tradition. Our society follows tradition habitually, which is not always a good thing. The simple answer could be that women have always been thought of as weak, so they are still thought of as weak. Just like students still have 3 months off of school every summer, but we don’t help our farmer parents out in the field anymore. Old habits die hard.

However, gender inequality doesn’t mean women and men aren’t different. In fact, many of the supporting roles in The Good Earth are women, most of which are very influential to the plot. In my opinion, Wang Lung’s wife, O-lan, had more character than Wang Lung did. She was intelligent but quiet, caring only about her family and their survival. She spoke only when necessary, which made her words more imprinting. O-lan’s character was complex in which she seemed rough on the outside, but was a very mentally and physically strong person. She used all aspects of her intelligence to her advantage, and proved gender stereotyping and Wang Lung wrong. Although she wasn’t beautiful and didn’t have bound feet, she was a valuable part of Wang Lung’s life and essential part of the book.

Maybe the answer to the question is in their predispositions. Men seem to naturally rise to power and assert authority, and are more aggressive and striving than women. This has led to unfair treatment towards women, causing the modern day oppression that is gender inequality. Unfortunately, society has allowed women to be treated like they are. Not only men are at fault, but women are as well. What’s going to change if nothing is said about it? Many people, including women, think our modern world has gender equality. News flash: It doesn’t. Today I saw a repulsive tweet about how women have achieved practically nothing compared to men. We are still not equal! Realization is the first step.

So, to summarize the answer to my question: Women have always been expected to play their roles which are second to men’s. That doesn’t mean it always has to be that way. We as a society can erase what history has left for us women to fill. If you believe at all that women and men are not equal in our modern world you can act on it. We as women can shape our own expectations.


Measuring intelligence(s)

Yesterday our junior class took the PSAT, which prompted me to ask why. Why does anyone need to know how smart I am and how does this piece of paper with bubbles on it impact my self-worth? I came to the conclusion that as humans, we constantly feel the need to determine ranks and classes of each other. In this case, intelligence. Believing that you are superior to someone else is an instinctive trait we have. Acknowledging that you are a subordinate to someone may humble us. No matter your position, factioning our workers, students, or society into groups of smart and not, in my opinion, is wrong. It leaves many people feeling unimportant, unmotivated, and inferior.

I know there is no reform coming soon, because the first step to change is realization that something is wrong. Many people are oblivious to the injustice our society and school system place on us. Why do we need to determine who is smarter and who isn’t? In reality, tests in school are only evaluating one small area of intelligence, compared to the many that exist, leaving some students feeling stupid. Analyzing how well a student understood the material in a class (that is often unnecessary in the real world) compared to their peers? That’s stupid.

Howard Gardner is a psychologist who developed a theory of multiple intelligences, which suggests intelligence can be categorized into 8 different abilities: musical–rhythmic, visual–spatial, verbal–linguistic, logical–mathematical, bodily–kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Interpersonal refers to your intelligence with other people, and intrapersonal is your intelligence with yourself. The rest are self-explanatory. In my opinion, this theory should be taught in classes besides psychology, to help students realize that just because they aren’t necessarily school smart doesn’t mean they’re not smart in another category. School favors students who turn in homework and memorize a vocabulary list for a quiz, and these people are labeled as “smart”.

To conclude: Your grades in school do not reflect your intelligence. They reflect your position and work ethic. No one knows what goes on in your brain, nor is it anyone’s place to say how smart you are.


Public Speaking Sucks. Or is it your attitude?


When I looked at my schedule on the first day of my junior year, I skimmed through all of my teachers and I stopped when I saw, “Theriault, D”. He was the only teacher I recognized- my best friend had told me about his unique teaching methods the previous year. Now let me tell you something about myself: I am deathly afraid of class presentations. The only thing I remembered hearing about Mr. T was that students were expected to present to the class very often. That was all I needed to make up my mind: I was switching out of my English class. After waiting in long lines in the guidance office and attempting many times to reach my counselor, I still had found myself stuck in this petrifying class- with a class presentation on the 3rd day of school.

I survived that presentation, and I also learned something that changed my outlook on that class. I can’t avoid presentations forever. I need to improve my skills with public speaking, and practice is the only solution. I’ve also realized the root of my fear. I care too much what people think of me. Nobody cares if you mess up a little bit, and certainly nobody thinks about how much of a loser you are for messing up the next day. In fact, it’s probably forgotten within 5 minutes. All that stress for a few seconds of judgement.

This is high school. I’m halfway done and already forgiven myself for that big mess up my freshman year. And guess what? Everyone treated me the same as they did before. Moral of the story: Nobody cares, and neither should you.

I don’t know what’s ahead of me (probably public embarrassment), but I’m willing to face it and I may even laugh about my failures later on. Not today, but later on.