We definitely live in a gendered society where social roles were distributed centuries ago. Being an Indian woman in the US society, I can claim that the world is ruled by males and this reign is unlikely to cease to exist in the nearest future. Life in India has made me a feminist as I have seen a lot of examples of suppression. I strongly believe genders are equal. Of course, there can be some roles, but they should be taken by individuals themselves. Societal conventions should not dictate to people which roles to take.
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I lived in India for more than twenty years and I accepted the rules set by our ancestors. For many people in India, it seems natural that females are subordinate to males. I got used to such a distribution of social roles. I cannot say I thought it was fair, but I accepted the rules. I tried to protest. I did not participate in some feminist groups or movements, but I tried to take my stand whenever it was possible (at home, with my friends, at school). Life in India is not very easy and I faced certain difficulties any woman in Indian society has to deal with. However, when I came to the USA five years ago, I expected to find a brand new world. I watched Hollywood films and I saw strong empowered females who achieved top in their life. Of course, I developed quite a peculiar view concerning life in the USA.
For instance, I thought the US society was free from gender issues. I thought women in the USA were equal to men. Nonetheless, when I came to this country, I understood my mistake. US society is also gendered. The extent of this inequality may be less explicit, but gender roles still exist. There is such a notion as a ‘glass ceiling’ and even within families, women are often suppressed. As for me, this was one of the most striking findings. I believe it is easier to live in an Indian society where everything is clear and females know what to expect. However, in the USA the inequality is implicit and females are often shown their place which is not flattering. I have met quite many people so far and I know a number of stories that support my view.
For instance, I know a woman who strives to be a top manager in a multinational company. Now she is the head of a department of one of the subsidiaries. She has already had several instances when someone else (a male) took the post she tried to get. One of the most unpleasant moments was when she found out that she had not to get a post since the top managers had had concerns about her ability to work hard enough. They were afraid that the woman could devote too little time to work as she had a child. Of course, this was not official information. Otherwise, she could sue the company for such an attitude.
Notably, this is one of the most striking and inconsistent features of the matter. In the USA, people talk about equality and keep saying that women have the same opportunities. A lot of Americans believe women can defend their rights in court and some females do bring an action before the court. More so, some of them manage to defend their rights. However, there is the other side to the coin.
Lots of women do not go to the law and try to handle their problems themselves. I have a friend who is the mother of two beautiful children. She lives with her husband who runs a small company. They are quite well-off, though they sometimes face financial constraints. My friend does not work as she is a devout mother and wife. Her husband seems to support her choice. However, he often stresses that his wife is obliged to fulfill certain tasks because she is a woman. Sometimes he crosses the line and he even hit her once. My friend did not want to go to law, but she often feels suppressed. She likes the role of a mother and wife, but her husband tends to make her feel inferior to him because of her gender.
Many feminists tend to claim that women who devote their lives to their children are weak. Being a housewife is seen as something opposite to being a feminist. As far as I am concerned, I believe females have their right to choose which role to take, be it a role of a housewife or a politician. However, no one has the right to humiliate a female or make her feel inferior.
I think I developed such an attitude since I lived in a highly gendered Indian society. I have witnessed lots of examples of oppression. I have seen a lot of situations when females had to give up their dreams only due to their gender. However, I have grown in my belief that the world is gendered since I came to the USA. First, I was a bit shocked and felt uneasy as the ideal world I created in my mind has never existed. Now, I understand that being a woman presupposes constant struggle as females have to win the role they want to get. Such a country as the USA is no exclusion. Men are born with their right to choose any role while women have to compete and prove something all the time.
The two examples provided as well as many others made me understand that US society is gendered. Females have to prove they can cope with tasks whereas males do not need to do this as they are expected to be fit for anything. I have a theory concerning the reasons why gender inequality still persists. I believe media are responsible for such viewpoints.
Lots of films reveal women as indecisive and subordinate. Female celebrities continue exploiting their sexuality which is often the basis of their huge salaries. Admittedly, many girls want to become actresses as this is the easiest way to make the American Dream come true. However, these girls invest in their physical beauty. They often forget that they need personal development, too. I believe the inequality persists as the media do not highlight cases concerning female’s struggle. Media focus on politics and gossip. Though, it is high time to make people think of their standpoint when it comes to gender issues. I also think such media coverage contributes to the development of implicit inequality in US society. Clearly, this is an alarming trend as Americans can fail to notice the moment when females in the USA will be put in the place of Indian women.