We live in a patriarchal world. Despite the best efforts of many, it still stands as fact. Yet it still baffles me that half of our population can be looked in the eyes and told ‘no.’ A few major anti-female stories have crossed my path this week, including (once again) a denial of the Paycheck Fairness Act and a court case in Texas that declared ‘upskirting’ a completely legal practice, if not artistic.
For anyone who doesn’t know what ‘upskirting’ is, it is when a person with a camera secretly, and without permission, takes a picture of a woman’s crotch and underwear. Subtle and repulsive, it’s usually not detected, especially in crowded streets or on public transit. This goes beyond the common thought that a woman’s clothing choices can mean that she’s ‘asking for it’—by interpreting that she is offering up her body (even the body deliberately covered by clothing) for public commentary, view, and most sickeningly, pleasure.
The court case defended upskirting as photography protected by the first amendment, explaining that “It’s hard to see how you could make taking a picture a crime.”
In an 8-1 ruling, using the logic of men—or humans in general—being unable to control their own damn genitals, it was ruled that we are unable to control people’s dirty little minds as they look at women. Thus, we sure can’t ban photography that captures that—even without the subject’s permission.
As a woman, I should be able to go out in public wearing whatever I please—especially something as basic as a skirt— and not feel constantly threatened. This is as offensive and invasive as somebody hiding a camera in a store’s dressing rooms (which, by the way, is illegal).
Secondly, and even more increasingly confusing, is the consistent lack of equal pay. A few days ago, every single republican senate member voted against the Pay Fairness Act as they have been since 2012. Worth noting—the GOP inequality brigade included four women.
Several counterarguments try to claim that a new law could hinder small businesses, making it easier for employees to sue or protest unequal wages. Another is that the law is unnecessary. Technically yes, that whole ‘all men (presumably, and women) are created equal’ thing should protect us, yet there still a gap. Overall, bearing in mind that women do often hold lower paying positions, women make, on average, 77 percent of what men will make over their lifetime. But, specific numbers span from 96 percent (nurses) down to 66p percent (female financial managers).
In the end, I fundamentally disagree with the idea that women are protected under current law. While it is absolutely insulting that we need to pass a law that women deserve the same rights as men, we need it because we’re still not equal.
Whether it’s the fact that just last week I was called a bitch for not giving a guy on the street my phone number or that it’s completely legal for an employer to refuse me the same salary as a similarly-qualified male in the workplace, we are not equal. And any law that is willing to demand that right for me is something that all people— especially women—should be fighting for.