WST 220 Thoughts about women have often been the same as the thought on children; they should be seen but not heard. This absurd idea has been the reasoning behind many laws, and social policy that have institutionally oppressed women in one form or another. Whether it is political oppression, when women were not allowed to vote, or economic oppression, the wage gap between men and women, they are continuous ways in which women are being systematically put down. These thoughts have affected women in many aspects of their lives including religion, family, social policies, and the workplace. Women in religion are often put aside, for example separate prayer rooms for Muslim women in mosques, or a lack of female preachers in Christianity. Women are typically the backbone of the church and they usually make of most the congregation yet not many of them are leaders. Nations with state religion have used religion as a means of oppressing women and their rights, for example women not being able to drive in Saudi Arabia. What surprises me the most is the lack of women leader in Christianity. In Christianity men are often the leaders of the church, while women are on the sidelines they may lead certain ministries but they certainly do not lead the church. Which is a bit of a contradiction from the Bible, in the Bible there are many stories of women who have risen above all odds and have led people to battle, or who have impacted change, women such as Esther, Hannah, Jael, Abigail, Sarah, Mary and my personal favorite Deborah. Women have played a significant role in the Bible, and for them not to play those same important roles in the church, shows how the idea of women’s roles have shaped women’s lives in religion. In nuclear families, women are expected to leave their jobs once they have a baby so they can take care of the home and the child rearing. Although, this is an important women who do it are often seen as lazy, or slackers. Even the government does not recognize or appreciate the value of a women’s job as a mother. The text gives an example of a women in Texas who quit her job so she could take care take of her children, because of this her social security pension was cut by hundreds of dollars and there was a lot of zeroes filled in for the year she spent taking care of her children.
Women, who do work, may not only have to deal with balancing her job and her family but sometimes she also has to deal with sexual harassment or outrageous demands and request. As Ellen Bravo shows in her expert “Going Places,” secretaries especially have had to deal with this, a manger wanting his assistant to clip his nose, or a stockbroker telling his secretary to wash his jacket because she does not have a college degree. These kind of inappropriate behavior and comments are making the work place hostile for women. It is only recently that women are speaking up and out against sexual harassment in the workplace. Many women that are sexual harassed in the workplace, are reluctant to tell someone because they fear losing their job and the sexual harassers who know this use this fact to take advantage of women. Sometimes, when a woman does report sexual harassment, she is shamed into believing that it was her fault.
Laws and social policies have shaped women’s lives both positively and negatively. In her essay “Unequal” Jessica Neuwirth gives many examples of