I recently watched a documentary called “It’s A Girl” about gendercide. Gendercide, which is the systematic, mass killings of women and girls, is a topic that continues to be in the shadows. Many people do not know that gendercide continues to happen primarily in India and China. Gendercide includes female feticide, female infanticide, dowry killing, neglect and abandonment.

“It’s a Girl” interviews several women in India who have killed up to 8 of their baby girls. This demonstrates the fact that females are seen as a burden to our society. As I watched the film, I was shocked to see the way these women admitted that they have killed their baby daughters and they also describe their methods used to kill them. In India and China, most families prefer sons over daughters because of the belief that sons bring strength, blessing, and wealth. Daughters are seen as a drain to families and their resources. In India, a daughter’s family is expected to pay an expensive dowry of property and money to the husband’s family. In my opinion, that is just another way of saying that a family pays to give their daughter away.

This cultural preference for boys has severe consequences to daughters. When women find out that they are having a daughter have abortions and women who give birth to daughters usually kill them right after birth. Daughters who do live, usually experience abuse and neglect.

Glory Dass, who is a director of several orphanages in India points out that often times, parents hand over their own daughters. He also mentions that poor families are the ones who typically do not have to have female babies. According to the film, 1 in 4 girls does not live past puberty.  The mortality rates of girls between the ages of 1 -5 is 40% higher than boys.

On a more positive note, the film shows a community meeting of women in Haryana, India who have gotten together to fight against gendercide. In these meetings, members talk about various topics such as dowry, female infanticide, and inequality placed upon girls. I was amazed to see the way that these women expressed their thoughts and idea. Their culture claims that women are useless and have nothing to contribute. However, women analyzed the problem and how it has led to bigger problems in terms of gendercide. These women even brought up the issue of male patriarchy. According to one of the women who spoke at the meeting, it is because of men that they are forced to have male children. Although community members continue to believe that if a woman finds out she is having a girl before birth, then the woman should have an abortion. However, it was said that once the baby is born, and if it is a girl, then she should not be killed. The belief that the first child should be a son remains present. But it is also nice to see that women have taken a step to begin combatting this issue.

In 1961, the Indian government outlawed dowry, but continues to be practiced. In India, 100,000 women are murdered each year because they do not give birth to sons or because the husband or his family are unhappy with the dowry they received.  Also, the majority of the crimes are never investigated or prosecuted.

The documentary “It’s a Girl” is a powerful film because it reveals the lives that several families have had to endure in order to not be forced to have to kill their own baby girls. In China, these families have had to leave their children behind with their parents so that they can go into the city to make a better living while not getting caught that they have more than one or two children. In 1979, China created the One Child Policy which restricts most Chinese couples to one child. This policy reiterates patriarchy and continues to give lower value to women. However, families who live in rural areas are allowed more than one child if their first child is a daughter. However, if the second child is another girl, they are supposed to have an abortion and try to have a son.  Families who violate the law are forced to have abortions or forced sterilization.

The issues that are currently happening in China and India, puts women’s lives at risk. Their human right to live is taken away. Women are seen as inferior and are exposed to the worst conditions. Women’s reproductive rights are being taken away by forcing them to have abortions and forcing them to have children until they give birth to a son. Also, the dowry system contributes to patriarchy because husbands are pretty much paid for taking in their wives. Women are seen as a burden and are given a low value compared to men. Women lack opportunity to education, work and economic self-sufficiency.  I encourage everyone to watch this documentary. I learned a lot from it and I hope you all do to.

Does Religion Oppress Women?

Religion is a very controversial topic but I think that it is a topic that people need to talk about just like any other topic. I identify as Catholic but mainly because that was the religion in which I was raised. My family for many generations have practiced Catholicism, so my parents raised me with the same beliefs. When I was younger I attended mass with my family every Sunday and I was raised believing that priests were able to speak to God and ask him to forgive us for our sins. However, it wasn’t until I was older when I began to analyze the structure of the religion more closely. I began to ask questions about the way women are viewed in the Catholic religion.
Men are the authoritarian figures in the catholic religion. Even in the bible, all of Jesus’s followers were male. The only two women who are spoken about is the Virgin Mary who is portrayed as the good woman because she had a child while still a virgin and Mary Magdalen who is portrayed as the bad woman because she is a prostitute. However, I did some research and came across an article from the Smithsonian that talked about how Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute. The article also provides historical information of how throughout time Mary Magdalene’s became to be known as a prostitute.
As I began to analyze the catholic religion, I realized that the priest is always male. Also, the religion teaches that women are supposed to save themselves and remain pure for their husband when they get married. For a woman to keep her virginity should be a choice, and not a requirement. The catholic religion also teaches women that they are supposed to be there for their husbands through thick and thin. I remember when I was around the age of 13 I would listen to my aunt talk to my mother and grandmother about her marital problems which consisted of my uncle cheating on her when he went out to bars every weekend, and not being around for their children. My grandmother would always suggest for my aunt to seek advice from a priest. Ultimately, my aunt did go to a priest for advice and I was shocked at what the priest advised her to do. The priest told my aunt that she had to be by her husband’s side and support him in all decisions. What about the husband supporting the wife? Why should she stand by his side if she does not want to be with a man who cheats on her?  Of course, the priest gave her that advice since divorce is unacceptable in Catholicism. This is a double standard because a woman is judged if she drinks, smokes, or leaves her partner. However, a man is not judged if he goes out to bars every weekend, cheats on his wife, smokes and leaves his family. At the time, I thought it was ridiculous advice but it did not bother me as much because I did not know that greater consequences this advice had. Now that I have learned so much about the oppression of women in other institutions I began to realize the Catholicism is structured upon patriarchy.
The belief that a woman should save herself until marriage is very oppressive. It should the woman’s decision whether she wants to wait until marriage to lose her virginity and not feel that she is obligated to do so just so that she will not be shamed by her family or future partner. Also, the belief that in order for a woman to be a good wife she is supposed to be available to sex whenever her partner pleases this objectifies women, promotes violence against women and makes marital rape acceptable. In Catholicism, women are stripped away from their reproductive rights because contraceptives are considered a sin. Although many woman do use contraceptives, many live feeling that they are committing a sin. Abortion is also considered a major sin. This becomes a problem when it comes to women’s reproductive rights (Stay tuned for an upcoming post on reproductive justice).

The oppression of other groups is also implemented by the Catholic religion. The LGBTQA community is not accepted in Catholicism. Those who are raised as Catholics and later come out as LGBTQA are forced to hide their identities in order to continue to be accepted in the religion they believe in. If they decide to reveal their identity they are forced to never come back.
I would like to make it clear that I am not suggesting for people to stop believing in Catholicism. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and that should always be respected. However, I do believe that it is important to analyze and critic the environments in which we are in. Even if you are not Catholic, you should analyze and critic your beliefs, you might find out many things that you probably have never realized.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month!

April sexual assault awareness month

What is sexual assault? Sexual assault is a term that includes any type of unwanted or forced sexual activity, or touching of private parts. Sexual assault includes rape, incest, sexual abuse and molestation. April is sexual assault awareness month and I think it is very important for everyone (men and women) to know what sexual assault is.

A perpetrator can be a stranger or someone you know. Many people are unaware of this, but sexual assault can happen within a relationship or marriage. The term marital rape is a term that many people do not know about. There is this idea that if you are married there is no way your partner can rape you. However, that is false. Marital rape consists of non-consensual sex in which the perpetrator is the victim’s spouse. Marital rape is illegal in every state but unfortunately continues to happen and it is the least researched and is hardly every reported.  This is caused by the patriarchal society in which we live in. A woman is expected to be available for sex whenever her husband wants it because the man is “supposed” to be the one who makes decisions. If you want to learn more facts about the topic of marital rape click here.

On March 28th I attended a training to become a peer advocate. It was a public training that was provided by Kan-Win which is an organization that works with primarily Asian American women who are victims of violence. The training was eight hours but did not feel like it. The amount of information that was provided really made time fly. When thinking about the topics of domestic violence and sexual assault, you do not really think that there could be such an intense amount of information that needs to be learned. The amount of information is more than I could have imagined. We did a couple of activities that really allowed you to get a sense of what a victim goes through.

The first activity that we did consisted of finding a partner and each person was given a small piece of paper with 4 bullet points on it. One person had to close their eyes and the other person had to have their partner do what their piece of paper indicated. When the tasks were completed, the person who had their eyes opened had to close them and complete the tasks indicated in their partners paper. The person with their eyes closed had to walk around the room, lift their left leg for 10 seconds, clap their hands 10 times, among other tasks.  The purpose of this activity is to get a sense of the powerlessness that a victim feels while she is with her abuser. The fact that a victim depends on their abuser and receiving orders from their abuser. The other activity consisted of getting a scenario and with a partner you had to play it out. One person had to play the victim and the other had to be the advocate. It was an opportunity to get a sense of how a victim tells her/his story to a friend or family member and how that family member or friend should respond as a peer advocate.

I really enjoyed the training because it was a new experience and it helped me better equip myself with tools that I can use in case I encounter a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault. However, I was saddened to see that the group of people who attended were mainly women. There were only four men in the group. I would have liked to see a larger amount of people in the group because domestic violence and sexual assault is not something that only women should learn about. These are topics that men should also learn about because most sexual assault and domestic violence crimes are commited by men. In order to combat these issues, the root causes need to be targeted.

I invite everyone to participate in combating the issue of domestic violence and sexual assault by educating yourselves about the topic. Also, everyone should find a way in which they can contribute to combating the issue, whether it is educating your freinds, family and coworkers, attending workshops, or even volunteering at non-profit organizations. Stay tuned for a second post on this topic !

It’s Barbie’s Birthday!

On March 9th I was trying to read the latest news on the internet and encountered several articles announcing that it was Barbie’s birthday! I was amazed at the amount of important that the media has given to Barbie’s birthday. Why is Barbie so important? Of course, it is one of the most popular toys among young girls but is that a good enough reason to dedicate massive amount of articles? I do not think that Barbie is that important. After all, Barbie is one of the reasons why our young girls grow up paying so much attention to beauty and body image.

The clothes that is sold for Barbie are all tight-fitting to match the shape of Barbie’s body . Barbie’s makeup also portrays stereotypes about women in terms of their race.  White Barbie dolls have very soft color makeup and usually have blue eyes. Other Barbie dolls that represent other ethnicities are portrayed through many stereotypes. There is an African Barbie doll who is dressed in African clothing  and their skin color is often very dark. The dolls wear large jewelery as well. Mexican Barbie dolls are dressed in Mariachi dresses and wear hoop earrings and their skin color is a  bit darker. The problem with skin color is that Barbie dolls implicate that if you see someone who is Mexican they must be wearing a Mariachi outfit.  To view the “Dolls of the World Collection” click here

Although not everyone is highly influenced by toys, some are. However, toys are given to children so they can learn a little about the adult world. Barbie’s perfect silhouette body shape teaches young girls that when they get older, their body is supposed to develop looking like that. Barbie is designed to portray an unrealistic body type by featuring a perfect proportionate body and perfectly shaped breasts. When young girls begin to see that their bodies do not reflect Barbie’s body they begin to think of ways to modify their bodies through excessive exercise and dieting. As they get older some even resort to costly and painful cosmetic surgeries.

So if Barbie impacts society in such a negative way, why does the media pay so much attention to Barbie and celebrate her birthday? Instead of celebrating Barbie’s birthday why not celebrate the birthdays of important women who have contributed to our society in a positive way. As I have mentioned in previous posts, we hardly ever learn about the women who have contributed to society and congratulate them for their accomplishments. Therefore, the media should be utilized to celebrate these people’s accomplishments.

Many may argue that Barbie dolls have not had a negative impact on our society. The arguments that are usually made are that Barbie’s are just toys and that children are not able to identify the racial, and sexist stereotypes. Other may argue that we should be paying more attention to other social forces that cause low self-esteem. To learn more about both sides of the argument as well as what Mattel (the company that produces Barbie dolls) has to say in regards to this controversy click here.

So do you think Barbie is influencial to young teens in developing low self-esteem problems? Does Barbie negatively reinforce racial stereotypes? Should the media continue to celebrate Barbie’S birthday as if she has contributed in positive ways to our society? Let me know what you think!

To read more about information that indicates that Barbie has a negative  impact on body image and racial stereotypes click here and click here.

Salary Negotiation


Last Friday, I attended an amazing workshop hosted by Nancy who is a career advisor at the Career Development Center at NEIU and Joanna who is the director of the NEIU Women’s Resource Center.  The workshop is called  “Start Smart” and it’s purpose is to raise awareness to women about how we can negotiate our salary when offered a job position. I found this workshop very important because I did not know that women were able to negotiate their salary when offered a job and I know that there are other women who might not that either.

The workshop was very enlightening because Nancy and Joanna explained the reason why there is a wage gap between women and men. The wage gap starts when women are typically offered a lower salary than her male counterpart for the same job position. Also, the gap continues to grow because when it is time to receive a raise, it is easier for a man to get a raise than a woman. A man is praised because he is starting a family and even gets a raise. On the other hand, when a woman is pregnant she is looked down upon and the employer will usually see that as a negative thing and of course, she is not given a raise.

When is comes to receiving a bonus, it consists of a percentage of the employees base salary. So if a woman’s base salary is lower than her male counterpart, then that means that her bonus will also be lower which also indicates that a woman will aways receive less money than her male counterpart. According to AAUW’s 2013 research report “Graduating to a Pay Gap” indicated that women college graduates will earn $1.2 million less over their careers than a male who is graduating with the same degree. Why do women have to earn $1.2 million dollars less? I would like my $1.2 million dollars and I am sure that every other woman does too! Although fighting against the wage gap might sound as if women were fighting over money, it is not true. The purpose of fighting against the wage gap is about establishing equality for women and men.

It is very important to know that although an employer might offer you a job, the salary that is being offered to you is most likely the lowest amount. However, it is also important to note that a salary negotiation can only happen if you are offered a job position by the employer. It is important for women to be prepared and know their rights so when they are offered a job, we can be confident to ask for time to think about it and determine whether or not the offered salary reflects what your job position is worth.

        A resource that was presented at the workshop was Wage Project. This is an amazing website where you can benchmark your salary and it even shows you by areas around the country. I think that all women should use this resource because sometimes you could be surprised at how different the salary you are being offered to the one your position is actually worth. Also, it is important to use a resource like this one because while negotiating a salary, we have to be sure that we are going for a reasonable number and not a number that is way higher or lower. If you are a woman who just graduated college with very little experience in the field, it is probably more appropriate to do for maybe not the lowest number but possibly a bit higher.

Some few tips that are recommended to follow while negotiating a salary is to be positive. You need to be persuasive about articulating your value to the employer and use your research to show interest in the position. Also be flexible in terms of listening to the employer’s needs and brainstorming about your own goals and needs. You should also never be the first one to name a salary figure. If the application requires you to fill that portion out you can write something like “Salary is negotiable” or “I expect to be paid fairly”.

Benefits are also an important thing to look at when you are looking for a new job. Everyone has different needs so not all benefits such as insurance plans are a good fit for everyone. Looking at the benefits and choosing a job that provides the benefits that are fit for you is very important. So now, I hope everyone has learned a thing or two. If you are a woman and are graduating soon take a look at how much your intended job positions are worth so you can be better prepared for when you have a job offer. Also, if you are already working in the your field you can still take a look at what your current position is worth. You may possibly surprised that you are currently getting paid way less than what your are suppose to be getting paid. If that is the case, do your research and demand your equal pay!

Womens’ Misrepresentation in the Media Pt 2

As I mentioned in part one of this post, the media is one of the most influential tools in our society. The study presented earlier demonstrated that in the media, the sexualization of women is the norm. However, one thing is to know this information and the other is to actually identify the way in which women are being sexualized. Often times we might be watching a comedy show and find it funny, but we are not realizing the way in which women are being misrepresented.

A show that continuously contributes to stereotypes of  women throughout all of its seasons is “Desperate Housewives”. Although the main characters are women, they are portrayed in very streotypical ways. Susan, who recently got divorced has no idea what to do with her life because she has been emotionally dependent on her husband since they were married. Gabrielle is portrayed as a woman who is a gold-digger and men only like her because of her looks. Also, she is given a bad image by her going out with her young gardener. The rest of the housewives in the series are all portrayed in very stereotypical ways. They either fight for a man, or they are involved in some love affair demonstrating that women need a man in their lives in order to be happy.

Another show that contributes to women stereotypes is “Modern Family”.  Although the show tries to challenge the notion that a family consists of the married parents and children who live in a house with a white picket fence, it fails to challenge Latina women’s stereotypes. Gloria, who is played by Sofia Vergara is always wearing tight, provacative clothing and she is often emphazies how she did not marry her husband for the money. By her emphasizing that all of the time makes me question whether or not she actually did marry him for his money. This is an example of how the audience engages in women’s stereotypes.

Facebook has also contributed to the misrepresentation of women within the site. A couple of years ago a campaign was launched against Facebook called #FBrape. The campaign was launched because Facebook was allowing alot of content that promoted gender-based violence to be posted on the site. Content such as memes and ads were promoting gender-based violence and this is very problematic because Facebook has over 1 billion users and some of it’s users are very young although they lie about their age. If young children view this type of content on Facebook, they will begin to believe what they are seeing.

Now….let’s take a look at the image above. How is this woman portrayed? She is being pressed against the wall and the man is behind her kissing her neck. She is shown in a submissive position. What does that tell us about women’s sexuality? This ad is sending out the message that women are submissive to men and secretly want to be dominated by men. Based on the expression she has on her face, many may assume that she is enjoying it. However, the name of the perfume is called “Unforgivable Woman”. The name itself is telling the audience that they need to judge the woman in a negative way because apperently she has done something terribly wrong and is unforgivable. These are the types of ads that send out problematic message to it’s audience.

Let’s look at one more ad…

This ad clearly is giving the image that women are animals. This ad is advocating on the elimination of violence towards elephants. Who is representing the elephant? The woman, of course. Why does it have to be a woman who represents the animal and not a man? These are all things that are included in our everyday consumption of the media. I would like to ask for everyone to begin to question and closely analyze the way in which women are portrayed in the media whether it is on television shows, social media, or the commercials we watch online or on television. So next time that you encounter a situation where sexist jokes are being said, watch a show or see an ad that demonstrates sexism, how would your reaction be?

March is Women’s History Month

Yay! We have begun another month and now getting closer to spring! Apart from that, March is also a very important month. March is Women’s History Month. It is a month for everyone to celebrate the stories of women’s struggles, accomplishments, and truths.

How many of you knew that March is Women’s History Month? I did not know about it until I began to attend Northeastern Illinois University. Students during their elementary and high school years of schooling are rarely taught about the importance of this month which contributes to the oppression of women in our patriarchal society. The educational system should bring awareness to students about Women’s History Month. Race plays a major role as well. Most recognized women who have had challenged our societal norms are usually white. However, not only white women have challenged our societal norms. Many women of color have made tremendous contributions but are often unrecognized for their work. The Women’s Resource Center at NEIU does an amazing job bringing awareness to our community. A months worth of events are organized and coordinated throughout March to celebrate and bring awareness about Women’s History Month. At NEIU Women’s History Month is called HERstory Month.

On Monday, March 2nd I was grateful to be able to attend the very first event on the HERstory Month Calender. The event consisted of a film screening of the movie “Anita” as well as a panel discussion at the end of the film. The film is about Anita Hill who accused the Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her while she was working with him. It was awful to see how the senate continuiosly tried to humuliate her by making her repeat the disguisting things he would say to her. Ultimately, the senate did not vote in her favor, claiming that they did not understand her accussations. What is so difficult to understand that Anita Hill was sexually harrassed? Unfortunately, during that time period the U.S government has very little knowledge about sexual harrassment in the workplace so they were very unprepared to listen to Anita Hill’s story. However, that is still not an excuse to rule in her favor. The U.S government is supposed to be prepared to listen to any type of grievances and protect it’s citizens. This ruling showed how they failed Anita Hill, all women and victims of sexual harassment.

Despite the fact that the senate’s vote was not in her favor, her story began to raise awareness to the whole country. Anita Hill along with many other women that we do not often learn about have contributed to the advances in women’s liberation in this country. These women went through intense struggles and humiliations in order to create change and raise awarenes. I would love for everyone to take the time every day of this month to learn about one new person everyday in our history who has fought against injustice for the future of women and share what you have learned with freinds in family.