We’ve come a long way in the last 150 years or so. Although, I suppose one could argue that we’ve come a long way since the dawn of man — because that’s what it’s called: the dawn of man. Not the dawn of man and woman. Not the dawn of people. Not the dawn of human race. No, the dawn of man. From the get go, we were the weaker gender, the crippled gender, the disadvantaged gender. We needed men to hunt our food for us — and gather it, too. We needed men to protect us. We needed men to care for us. We’d sit in the caves, birth their children, and maybe light a fire, you know, after a man taught us how.
Looking back through the thousands of years of human evolution (unless you believe in Creationism, in which case, we get it, we owe you a rib, Adam), it was only in rare instances that women, not men, were the natural and respected leaders. Ancient Egypt, for example, had such powerful female leaders as Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra. Researchers now believe that unlike previously believed, women were revered in the ancient days of the Mayans — though not well documented, it is thought that women held seats in government and various other positions of power. But, of course, as we all know, this was the exception, not the rule.
“How sad it is to be a woman!! / Nothing on earth is held so cheap…”
…goes an ancient Chinese poem. And this thought, this sentiment, this belief ingrained in the minds of people — both men and women — was so accepted that it was transcribed in history books and written in plays and poems and letters. It was the word of gods, of God, of emperors — of men who were dead but whose beliefs still lived. For years, thousands of years, women lived in oppression. In Europe it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that women even began voicing their beliefs and concerns — many of whom were burned at the stake, beheaded, or met with fates much worse as a result. But that didn’t deter them. They kept fighting.
In certain Asian countries, women continued to be treated as a sub class of humans until arguably very recently, when the expectation of Chinese female foot binding finally ceased in the early 1900s. And in Africa, the mistreatment of women continues in various cultures and tribes, as female genital mutilation continues to run rampant. In the United States, women were considered to be the property of their father or their husband until 1848 — just a little over a hundred and fifty years ago. It wasn’t until 1920 that we received the right to vote. And it was not until the mid to late 20th century that women really began joining the workforce — a workforce that many would argue is still wildly unwelcoming.
Women much braver and outspoken than myself dedicated their lives to the plight of female equality. They marched and protested and fought with their words for an issue that was not only important to them, but important to humankind. It was not a matter of want, it was a matter of need. It was a matter of wrong versus right. And so they went to Seneca Falls and the went to Congress and they went to Hell and back in pursuit of what they knew was necessary, of what they knew was what their daughters and granddaughters deserved — what they themselves deserved: equality. And they got it. On paper, at least.
In America, we have the same rights as men. We are innocent until proven guilty. We have the right to a trial by peers. We have the right to bear arms. We have the right to vote. We are protected under the same laws and protected by the same government. But society, society seems to disagree with our equality, arguably even our freedom.
First noticed by the United Nations in an effort to raise awareness for gender equality, the following ads are screenshots of Google searches. Found below the ads, you’ll see the same Google search I did on my own computer. The results are shocking.
Like I said, we’ve come a long way. But it’s not far enough. Roll up your sleeves, ladies. The fight still isn’t over.
[via UN Women]