Analysis of writing

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Gender Equality in the United States
Gender inequality is perhaps one of the oldest topics in the history of humans and the
oldest type of inequality other than the inequality between the mortal and immortal beings in
religion. Despite being around for centuries, even millennia, gender inequality has evolved in the
society and changed the way people live. Traditionally, the male gender has been portrayed as
the superior one with females being relegated to a secondary role. However, since the American
society has made significant steps towards equality and justice, it is considered one of the
countries with the highest degree of gender equality. One would then wonder whether gender
equality has been achieved in the United States. The society in the United States made significant
steps towards gender equality but still falls short of perfect gender equality in different aspects of
the society.
Equality has been achieved in many sectors and one of the most notable areas is the
equality of gender in the pay and wages systems in the society. Several critics and feminists
argue that men earn more than women in the society but a closer look reveals that the figures are
exaggerated and the difference cannot be said to be intentionally created to segregate against
women. According to Arends (2016), women in the same position as men get the same amount
of wages but differences in job choices and other factors such as height account for the overall
difference. This argument makes a lot of sense mainly because it is impossible for a man in the
U.S to be paid more than a woman in the same position, in the same organization. This has been
made possible by gender equality legislation in the country. Furthermore, it is a known fact that
most women may prefer jobs that allow them to attend to their families and these jobs are
generally lower-paying than others which include a load of work and traveling as Arends claims.
Secondly, gender-neutrality in language and facilities has been largely achieved in the
society. Primarily, the binary identities of gender have been pushed away in the modern society
to introduce a more neutral approach. For instance, the use of the word they as a singular to
denote the non-binary identity of a person already known to the speaker is a way of showing how
the society of people who are concerned with language and linguistics is making significant steps
towards appreciating gender parity (The American Dialect Society, 2016). This view of the
language, which is sensitive to gender differences is a show that the society as a whole
appreciates the equal roles of both male and female genders in it. For instance, many writers
have been using the phrase â??he or sheâ?? when referring to an unknown being and has moved
further from using the word he alone in such cases. This gender parity is crucial in bringing out
equality in the society.
Moreover, the establishment of gender-neutral facilities in different institutions is a
significant feature of breaking the binary identity of gender. With gender and sexuality comes
the issue of LGBTQ identities in the society. According to Davis (2016), gender-neutral
bathrooms is a way of allowing people who do not belong to the genders of their sexual identities
to feel included in the society. This idea and many others regarding inclusive policies which do
not discriminate people by their gender have been adopted and are increasingly important in the
American society. They point to the very idea that the nation has reached a level of social
awakening that allows it to move away from the traditional gender stereotypes and into a more
inclusive and equal society.
On the other hand, it is evident that not enough efforts have been applied to the issue of
gender equality and the society still lacks fundamental implements that will lead to a more
gender-equal America. The first issue that is most notable is the gender roles in the family unit.
When discussing the issue of equality of pay, it was said that the difference in gender when it
comes to paying comes from the choices of jobs. One has to wonder why, if true, women choose
averagely lower-paying jobs than men. The most simplistic answer to this question is that
women are responsible for taking care of the family. Brady (1972) presents a thorough
explanation of why people want wives and it all revolves around satisfying the needs of men in
their lives as well as caring for the children and the house chores. Although some American
families may have moved on from these traditional roles, the workplace is still highly viewed
through this scope. Men are seen taking jobs that involve high risk and long hours of working
and also traveling while women remain conservative of their choices (Arends, 2016). This notion
in the society has perpetrated inequality in the jobs that the majority of men and women hold
mainly because the female figure is still viewed as responsible for the children and household.
Moreover, equality in pay may have been achieved but the equality in employment has
not been fully realized in the nation where dreams come true. First and foremost, Cauterucci
(2016) presents the fact that women have not been allowed to be drafted into the military. The
draft allows only men aged 18-25 to register for the Selective Service. This is an outright display
of inequality in the employment terms and agreements in the government. The country has made
significant steps towards equal employment through such legislation as Equal Employment and
Opportunity Commission Act. However, if women are included in combat and military services
but excluded from Selective Service drafting, equality has not been realized yet.
Elsewhere, the portrayal of women in popular media has continued to widen the gender
gap by sexualizing the appearances of women while men are not subjects of the same. It is
notable that even superhero women who are supposed to portray the power of women in the
society are presented using over-sexualized images such as unattainably curvy bodies and the
exposure of their skin as a sign of beauty (May, 2015). This presentation can be seen in films
such as Wonder Woman (2017) where the heroineâ??s armor exposes a lot of â??fleshâ?? and
exaggerates her curves. Moreover, this presentation of the ideal woman as physically beautiful
compels women to feel that they ought to look like these idols. It further demeans the esteem of
many women in the society by setting the bar too high and basing it entirely on their physical
appearance. This is inequality at its worst. This idea can strongly be linked to the issue of
mansplaining, which McClintock (2016) identifies as a diminutive approach by most men who
explain issues to women in a condescending and patronizing manner. The idea that a man may
be more knowledgeable than a woman in a particular topic simply because he is a man is a show
of gender discrimination.
While the society has made giant steps towards gender equality, some aspects of the
society still demean women and portray men as the superior gender, and, therefore, the American
society falls short of a perfectly fair presentation of the male and female genders. The society
today recognizes women and gender equality more than it did a few decades ago. Using such
issues as gender equality in pay and wages, gender-neutral facilities, and gender-neutral roles
and words, it is evident that Americans have come a long way into accepting and integrating
gender equality. However, women are still portrayed as sexual beings whose beauty is required
for their identity to be noticed. Furthermore, gender roles are still diminutive thus restraining
women to stick to lower-paying jobs. This shows that although the country has come a long way,
it still has a long way to go regarding gender equality.
Arends, B. (2016, Apr. 14). The idea of the â??gender pay gapâ?? is mostly bogus. Market Watch.
Retrieved from
Brady, J. (1971). I want a wife.
Cauterucci, C. (2016, Feb. 3). Should women be required to register for the draft?
retrieved from
Davis, K. (2016, Apr. 11). Gender-neutral bathrooms: Why they matter. The Red & Black.
Retrieved from
May, C. (2015, Jun. 13). The Problem with Female Superheroes. Scientific American. Retrieved
McClintock, E. (2016, Mar. 31). The psychology of mansplaining. Psychology Today. Retrieved
The American Dialect Society. (2016, Jan. 8). The word of the year is singular they. American
Dialect Society. Retrieved from
The Problem with Female Superheroes
——–By Cindi May on June 23, 2015
A woman dresse d as W onder- Woman at Com ic-Con in Sa n Dieg o.
Credit: The Conmunity via Wikimedia Commons
What do you want to be when you grow up? When pondering this question,
most kids have given at least passing consideration to one fantastical if
improbable calling: superhero. There is an understandable allure to the
superhero position â?? wearing a special uniform (possibly with powerful
accessories), saving the world from evil, and let’s not forget possessing a
wickedly cool special power like x-ray vision or the ability to fly.
But new research by Hillary Pennell and Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz at the
University of Missouri suggests that, at least for women, the influence of
superheroes is not always positive. Although women play a variety of roles in
the superhero genre, including helpless maiden and powerful heroine, the
female characters all tend to be hypersexualized, from their perfect,
voluptuous figures to their sexy, revealing attire. Exposure to this, they show,
can impact beliefs about gender roles, body esteem, and self-objectification.
Consider, for example, superhero movies like Spiderman or Superman. These action-packed films typically feature a strong,
capable, intelligent man fighting a villainous force. The goal of course is to
save humanity, but more often than not there is also an immediate need to
rescue a damsel in distress. The female victim is typically delicate, naive, and
defenseless, but at the same time sexy and beautiful. What she lacks in
strength and cunning she makes up for in kindness and curves. It is not
surprising (or insignificant) that she is often the object of the hero’s
Pennell and Behm-Morawitz posited that exposure to these stereotypic female
victims, whose primary appeal is sexual, may lower womenâ??s body esteem,
heighten the value they place on body image, and result in less egalitarian
gender role beliefs and expectations. However, female characters have come a
long way in the superhero genre, and itâ??s possible that the antidote to the
helpless fair maiden is the competent, commanding superheroine. The XMen films, for example, feature a number of empowering female characters
like Storm, Jean Gray, and Dazzler, each of whom wields a unique special
ability and displays impressive cognitive and physical competence. Perhaps
exposure to this new generation of female heroines will result in more
egalitarian gender beliefs, higher body esteem, and greater prioritization of
physical competence over appearance.
Still, todayâ??s superheroines, like their female victim counterparts, are often
unrealistic, sexualized representations of female figures, with large chests,
curvaceous backsides and unattainable hourglass dimensions. Their skintight outfits accentuate their sexuality with plunging necklines and bare skin,
and many of their names (e.g., Risque, Mystique, Ruby Summers) connote,
shall we say, a slightly less respectable profession than superheroine.
Pennell and Behm-Morawitz thus speculated that while todayâ??s powerful
superheroines might elevate egalitarian beliefs about gender roles, their
sexualized nature might simultaneously have destructive effects on body
image and self-objectification.
To explore the effects of watching sexualized female victims and heroines,
Pennell and Behm-Morawitz asked female college students to watch a 13minute video montage of scenes that either featured female victims from
the Spider-man series or female heroines from the X-Menseries. After
watching one of these video montages, participants completed a survey that
assessed gender role beliefs, body image, and self-objectification. A number
of other measures (e.g., movie-going habits, enjoyment of different film
genres) were included to camouflage the purpose of the study, and in a control
condition, participants simply completed the survey but did not watch either
film montage.
Gender role beliefs were assessed via the Attitudes toward Women Scale,
which evaluated participants’ views about men’s and women’s responsibilities
at home and in the workplace, appropriate attire and appearance in public,
rationality and problem solving skills, and physical strength. Body image was
measured using the Body Esteem Scale, which requires individuals to rate
personal satisfaction with general appearance and specific body parts (e.g.,
face, chest, thighs). Finally, the Self-Objectification Questionnaire required
participants to indicate the importance of their body image and body
competence to their personal identity.
Relative to participants in the control condition, those who viewed the
sexualized-victim female character did indeed report less egalitarian gender
beliefs. Thus, women who watched the Spider-man montage were less likely
to agree statements such as, â??Men and women should share household work
equally,â? and more likely to agree with statements such as, â??Men are better at
taking on mental challenges than women.� They did not, however, experience
drops in body esteem or rate the importance of body appearance more
highly. It seems that watching the beauty-in-need-of-rescue reinforced
traditional gender roles, but did not create the desire to appear more like her
What happened when women instead watched the agile and proficient
superheroines? Did these characters serve to empower women? Sadly,
no. The superheroine montage did nothing to improve egalitarian views
about gender roles, though at least it did not lower those views. Pennell and
Behm-Morawitz argue that the sexualization of the superheroine characters
serves to reinforce rather than challenge stereotypical gender role beliefs, and
this effect may overshadow any benefit derived from observing a strong,
intelligent, capable female character.
Watch out, as these superheroines pack a bigger punch: Relative to control
participants, women who watched the X-Men montage reported lower body
esteem. They also ranked the importance of physical competence more
highly. Pennell and Behm-Morawitz suggest that women may admire the
power and status of superheroines and consequently desire to emulate
them. Because these sexualized superheroines have unattainable body
dimensions and engage in unrealistic physical feats (e.g., saving the world in
spiked heels), itâ??s not surprising that female viewers are left feeling
dissatisfied with their own physical appearance and prowess.
Thus, while the roles for women in superhero movies have evolved from the
helpless, easy mark to the commanding, mighty protector, the central appeal
of these characters as sexual goddesses is the same. As a consequence, the
superheroines, like their victim counterparts, are undermining rather than
improving womenâ??s perceptions of their own bodies and physical
competence. And they are doing nothing to improve beliefs about womenâ??s
roles in society.
These new findings add to a growing literature demonstrating that the genderrelated information conveyed in popular media can affect personal
perceptions and cultural standards about gender. Expectations and attitudes
about gender roles are shaped by a variety of entertainment media,
from superhero movies and G-rated childrenâ??s films to music
videos, advertisements, and video games. One recent study even found that
regular viewers of a reality television show featuring pregnant teens had more
favorable attitudes about teen pregnancy and believed that the benefits of teen
pregnancy outweigh the risks. Clearly the things we watch, even if fantastical
or sensationalized, affect our beliefs. Superhero movies and other forms of
entertainment, which are often viewed as a temporary escape from reality,
may in fact be shaping our realities in ways that are more harmful than heroic.
Rights & Permissions
Are you a scientist who specializes in neuroscience, cognitive
science, or psychology? And have you read a recent peer-reviewed
paper that you would like to write about? Please send suggestions to
Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook. Gareth, a Pulitzer prize-winning
journalist, is the series editor of Best American Infographics and
can be reached at garethideas AT or Twitter @garethideas.
Cindi May is a Professor of Psychology at the College of
She explores mechanisms for optimizing cognitive
function in college students, older adults, and individuals with
intellectual disabilities.
She is also the project director for a
TPSID grant from the Department of Education, which promotes the
inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities in postsecondary
The idea of the â??gender pay gapâ?? is mostly bogus
——By Brett Arends
Published: Apr 14, 2016 8:39 a.m. ET
Most of the gap is explained by personal choices made by millions of
individual women and men
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaks at a news conference to mark
Equal Pay Day on Capitol Hill last week.
Can everyone please stop talking complete nonsense about the â??gender pay
The recent â??Equal Pay Dayâ? has produced, once again, the tedious and
predictable flood of half-truths and untruths about the relative pay of men and
But repeating something over and over doesnâ??t make it correct. A million
angry tweets do not rebut a single fact. And while itâ??s terrific that we are on
patrol against unfair discrimination, itâ??s terrible that we are nationally so
indulgent about lazy thinking.
No, women donâ??t get paid 79 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as
men. Nothing like it. Nothing close.
Sorry, folks. But thatâ??s not what the data say.
Strip out all the personal choices and the data actually say that the real
apples-for-apples pay gap between men and women is in single digits.
Most of that gap is explained by personal choices being made by millions of
individual women and men â?? about whether to major in literature or
economics in college, about whether to pursue a career at a non-profit or a
bank, and about whether youâ??d rather find yourself at 7 p.m. on a Wednesday
night in February sitting at home reading a bed-time story to your children or
sitting in a windowless conference room in Cleveland arguing with an
obnoxious client about depreciation schedules.
Most of the choices being made are being made freely. Indeed, the gaps get
bigger as you move up the socioeconomic scale, which is precisely where
individuals have more power to choose.
When we focus on this 79-cents figure, we are actually being the opposite of
feminist. We are embracing a traditionally â??maleâ? perspective, where money
trumps everythin …
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