It has been quite some time since I’ve written about gender in a socioeconomic way. Perhaps, it was a natural ‘distancing’ that occurred after I finished my MA thesis and did not immediately jump into another higher education program? Or rather, it was the disgust in being labeled a ‘feminist’ in a vulgar regard, much the same as I would be labeled a tramp or a whore? Anyways, I wanted to share some things that I find to be incredibly interesting regarding gendered economic thought and its place in our culture and society today. Don’t worry I’m not gonna start burning my bra, I’m looking to set fire to the whole damn system.
Gender and economics are something every single woman (AT THE VERY LEAST) should be thinking about, talking about, and getting f&*king PISSED about. Things are dire. In fact, I went my whole higher education without ever hearing the words ‘gender economics’ until I worked on my thesis. WHAT THE F*&k?! The social expectations and economic limitations of being female are absurd. We still live in a world where we are told we MUST look, dress, and appear a specific way in order to be successful, loved, or deemed ‘good.’ There are still some horrifically unequal gendered statistics in our ‘country of equals’ such as pay between genders, active roles in our legislature and congress (<20% are women!), and in economic activity. You can access quite a bit of data and statistics through the United Nations here to look at more gender-biased statistics in our entire world. Further, according to The Economist’s ‘Women’s Economic Opportunity’, the United States is the 15th most ‘opportunistic’ economy for women. Are we not a world leader? Yet economic opportunity for women is less than most of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand in terms of labor involvement, access to finance and education, and legal status. (Oh that’s right there are still parts of the world where women are not even considered legal citizens!) I love this article from the Huffington Post about how US Women can even be considered second-class citizens – especially the preface of “Uh-oh. I’m a woman. With feelings. Am I going to get too emotional? Will there be tears? How is it possible that I can have intelligent, clear, informed thoughts with all of these emotions flowing through me?”
Next, about the expectations of gender on both male and females in our economy. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that youth culture and adults are fed all sorts of information regarding physical standards and therefore influence beauty consumption. I stumbled upon a documentary during my thesis research that inspired me to make a difference and be a difference in this. Miss Representation is an eye-opening look at media/advertising and its effect on culture and economics. Honestly, it’s baffling that we are influenced so much by companies and their products – literally most of these companies do not even care about the consumer or want to add value to their lives – it’s purely for profit. I would highly recommend checking this documentary out on Netflix instant video right now too.
The creator of this ‘movement’ via Miss Representation is Jennifer Newsom and she branched out to include changing views and expectations on many gender based instances. You can see her current project Curating Change here. It is worth a look as it deals with many of the changing gender roles our culture sees today – from “Mr. Moms to the faces of masculinity”.
Honestly, gender is a taboo topic in our culture. While it can be said that sexual-orientation gender advocates are seeing progress, the overall goal of gender equality is failing. In fact, it is a joke. It’s sad to me that our culture degrades anyone who does not fit into the ‘typical’ model that has been stereotyped and forced on so many individuals. Further, to even question the system young/old men and women are laughed at. I am a feminist. I can proudly say that and in doing so does come the negative backlash from BOTH women and men alike. I personally demonstrate my hatred for gendered stereotypes, by not only crafting and baking (traditionally female hobbies), but pursuing my advanced education in Economics and working in Economics academically. Believe me, I have never been ‘among equals’ as the boys love to say in my professional and academic career – and you know what they are right – I AM above the standards and I am motivated and enraged enough to start making some social and cultural changes. Not just in my consumption, but in my way of life. (Hell I already am a ‘sober outcast’ I might as well make that outlier status mean something powerful.) People, especially women, should be livid about what is expected of us. Burning bras might be laughable now, but I can understand how tempting it would be to lash out at a majority society that just laughs off any sort of change to status quo.
There is a popular saying floating around and one that saw each time I visited my advisor’s office while working on my graduate degree, that says “If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.” I couldn’t agree more. Without diverging too far from the subject of gendered economics, this is a statement that rings true in our entire culture. From the production processes of all of our consumer goods, to our basic thoughts as a consumer driven society – things are really ‘messed up.’ I’ll candidly state that I fear for our economic system, our morality or lack thereof as a people, and the overall health of our planet. I am educated enough on our current economic system to objectively, mathematically, and appropriately find the flaws and the dependencies it is effing based on. I fear so much sometimes, that it keeps me awake – pondering where we are heading. I sometimes wish I was naive about economics, finance, and the general health of our entire monetary system. Would I do things differently if I didn’t have my bug-out bag prepped and didn’t spend a good 5 hours each week worrying where I would go if something happened to a city in which I am virtually alone? It’s intense to think of the ‘what-ifs’ and to begin to prepare establishes some kind of relief, but in so far as just facilitating more anxiety and more situations to ‘be prepared for.’ (Coming soon boys and girls, GFK’s how to prep for the apocalypse every Friday! am I joking? Maybe. I’m not sure.) I digress, when are people including myself going to start being the change and the difference? When will we all realize that we are ones in control? Literally, we are the power.
We are the power.