This article was written by Sabrina M., an Essex County, NJ Middle School Student.
The following article is a part of a new series, “Listening to Youth Voices in the New Year.” Each Sunday, articles written by Essex County Middle School students will be published, each week relating to a new topic. You can learn more about this series here.
“Who runs the world, girls!” - Beyonce
This is what three of the most inspirational women in my life have taught me. My mother, my aunt, and my grandmother have always inspired and motivated me to embrace my full potential. My mother always tells me, “Sabrina, you will have to work twice as hard as most people because you are black and a girl and never let anyone make you feel less than you are.” My aunt, who never stops smiling and continues to give selflessly to others. My grandmother (Nana), who teaches me to, do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. They have been the backbone of my current success and are currently guiding be to break through the glass wall society has put above me.
The famous line from Beyonce’s, three-time award-winning, song represents the power and drive of the female population. As she is a strong female figure and a well-respected role model for younger generations; she strives to encourage girls of all ages to stand up and fight for what they deserve. She supports multiple foundations that advocate for women to revolt against the glass ceiling. The Glass Ceiling is a familiar phrase that is used to identify the barrier that prevents females and other minorities from prevailing in their careers and education. Women of all races are impeded by society's ideal impression that men are superior. Even now, women are diminished and continue to be objectified and seen as inferior to men. This has been passed through multiple generations and is affecting our youth today. The Glass Ceiling prevents women from exceeding in the workforce due to the abundance of men with aristocratic positions. Women are undermined but have had countless examples of tenacious, influential, epitomic, leaders that have put us on the path we are today. A path towards liberty, for all women.
In the event, when women were allowed the right to vote - in 1920 through the nineteenth amendment - then, and only then, was a legislation passed enabling them the ability to work. Although the amendment did allow them to vote and pursue a career, women continued to fight for their rights, as they were not yet considered equal to men. After countless efforts and protests, they were lead to believe that their efforts were prevailing. At the time of President Obama’s term, Michelle Obama led various awareness campaigns to attend to the currently progressing gap of human rights between men in women. Not only was she involved in the fight to close this gap, but so were many other well-known female figures such as Hillary Clinton, Oprah, Coretta Scott King, Ellen Page, Malala Yousafzai, and much more. This powerful and inspirational uphill battle has come to a halt, as our current President Trump has made dozens of hateful, sexist, and insulting comments towards women. Some of which are too horrible to repeat unlike when he says, “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait.” Here he refers to women as something he is attracted to, which a lot of men are, but faults when he says that he doesn’t wait. In this statement, he is claiming that he commits sexual assault as if if women were not human. This being one of his less inappropriate comments, not that it isn't offensive, but it was part of an extensive ¨locker room¨ talk conversation between him and Bill Clinton a couple years ago. These comments were made leading up to his presidency and are continuing. President Trump is bound to exploit his power and have it oppose everything our previous president has done to help the U.S. and unite us as a country.
Furthermore, President Trump was not only making disgusting remarks about women but has indeed committed acts of sexual assault to multiple women. A few of his victims were brave enough to speak up about what he did. One of the being Natasha Stoynoff who reported the assault to her editor where she was removed from the case. Natasha was on a tour of the Trump residence during an interview, while Melanie - his wife - went to change outfits. Then she describes being alone with Trump and him “forcing his tongue down [her] throat.” This concludes to a much more broad topic of rape and sexual assault-- 1 out of every 6 women are victims of sexual assault in America. Men have exploited women knowing that women have been oppressed and that men are considered the superior gender. What isn’t being understood is that they are not the superior gender. Men, Women, or neither, are all people none the less, and they should be justified liberty.
In a similar manner, girls are being taught, from a young age, that they are subordinate. Which plays a huge role in the self-esteem of kids of all ages, but has much more of an impact on girls aged 15 to 17. Referring back to Beyoncé and the multiple campaigns she supports for gender equality, one of them being Ban Bossy. The campaign highlights the importance of differentiating bossy with leadership. Beyonce’s famous line from this campaign is, “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.” This is inspirational; girls do not only have the potential to be highly intelligent, but they can be leaders that inspire others to be leaders. Then we could have the world full of young and empowered leaders! This campaign also addresses girls fear of being judged by their appearance and not by what's in their heads. ‘Causing their self-esteem to drop 3.5 more than boys between elementary and high school, as stated in the campaign. Not only that, but previous records of female grade averages were higher in lower grades, surpassing male average grades. The test that was designed in the 1960’s according to Women’s International Center. The test also observed how female grade averages dropped in high school because parents and teachers focused less on girls education because they believed it insignificant; when a young girl becomes a woman she is supposed to bear children and do housework. This 21st century, women can be doctors, lawyers, and engineers—there is no limit to what we can do. We have the potential to go to the moon and back, yet so much of our society doesn’t allow it because it breaks the norm of what girls are “supposed to do.” Here is a perfect example of how outside influences have pushed women and girls, of all races, to their breaking point: they are finally revolting against the oppression that they had to endure for centuries.
Of course, women are fully capable of exceeding the Glass Ceiling and are more than qualified to surpass anyone in the workforce. As a young person, I have encountered a number of people who tend to be in favor of reverting to gender roles before the 1900’s. During that period of time, men would acquire income while women stayed at home with their children and tended to their residence. There are people who have been labeled misogynists as a result to having their minds poisoned by society’s sentiment towards the female figure. However, many beg to differ that women, in fact, do not lack intellectual and physical qualities. They claim that it is the selfish frame of mind that men do not want to divide the power that they have occupied since the beginning of time. Women make up 57% of the workforce. The percentage of women participants has risen by almost half since the 1950’s, where it was only 34%. The most recent percentage was from 2015 where there was a 56.7% participant rate amongst women in the workforce. The increase between then and now is a huge step forward, and serves as proof that women are capable of so much.
As a community of strong leaders and open-minded youth, we must continue to overcome this fictitious and damaging mindset that society has shaped over centuries. We should plan to take action to break down these barriers. It not only affects women, but other minorities including people of color and other religious groups. We must look past our exterior and begin to understand that we are all one race, the human race. Therefore we all deserve the same opportunities and are entitled to our constitutional rights. How civilization created the image of superior to the inferior is far behind us. This is the generation that will prevail. This is the generation that will rid humanity of its unrealistic views on all minorities. None of us are superior to one another and not one of us should be able to wield enough power to make another feel less than they are.