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Subliminal sexism still present

By: Rosemary Boeglin <[email protected]>

For anyone who knows her, there are no doubts my mother is a strong woman. My parents divorced when I was five, but my mom never let the lack of an adult male undermine the authority she holds. For this reason, it always astounds me how weak she seems to become around my Grandpa, her father.

It’s not just her, though. My aunt, a professor at Indiana University and single mother, also cowers in the presence of the 78-year-old patriarch. In addition, my Grandma (sassy and active for her age) submits to his every whim and request. As for his son, my Uncle Sam, not so much.

The point is, we still live in a patriarchal society where no one’s going to question the oldest male’s decision to ask my brothers what they’re doing in school while he merely says to me, “You look good, Rosemary.”

The relevancy of womens lib is questioned despite the estimated seven million anorexic women in the US, according to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. The relevancy of womens lib is questioned despite Facebook’s decision to take a poll on the capability of a woman to be president of the United States (without the results being entirely clear cut on whether it could be done).

Sexism in the United States, although not as blatant as clitoral mutilation or social castigation, is as assimilated into popular culture as in the rest of the world. Efforts have been made by companies, such as Dove, to celebrate women at a normal and healthy body weight, but the social standards remain. Even if progress is made in the crusade to accept all body types, the pressure is hardly alleviated. Why are ads or campaigns for female bodies even necessary?

The gender Utopia, it seems, would be a society in which women are not told their bodies should be so thin, or so toned or even so “normal.” The Utopia would be women deciding for themselves how they’re comfortable with their bodies without the constant reminder their bodies, no matter their shape or size, are always being scrutinized and debated.

It’s only fair to say I’m lucky to be living in the United States where I am permitted to even write this article and can vote when I’m 18, etc. Although this is true, it’s hard to fight an unobvious battle against society. Drawing the line for what universal suffrage is much more clear than drawing the line for characteristic dating tradition. This is the reason womens lib is considered to many as an irrelevant cause, an extremely frustrating sentiment for cognizant and pro-active women.

I, with regret and some shame, admit that I don’t reprimand my Grandpa for only asking me to get him a drink while he talks to my brothers about politics. I justify it by saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. He will never respect me as an equal to my brothers, so what’s the point in causing conflict in his final stretch?” And in the end, the point is not to teach a few old men to get their own glass of wine, but to teach the growing youth that whether the chauvinism is obvious or not, it is still there. I can’t see the glass ceiling, but I can certainly feel it. Rosemary Boeglin is a reporter for the HiLite. Contact her at [email protected].

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