Está en la página 1de 4

Anny Pham 2/12/14 U of U Humanities The Black Woman A Different Type of Strength When I talk to people about the

persistence of racism in the United States, they will often deny this fact by saying that it is no longer an issue in our nation and that our constitution and laws promote equality and outlaw discrimination. Unfortunately, neither the formal declaration of equality nor the formal prohibition of racism or racial discrimination will by themselves eradicate racism (ICHRP). The same applies for classism, sexism, etc.: Despite what governments have put forth in their laws and constitutions, racism, classism, sexism, etc. will continue to persist in society. Some privileged race, class, gender, etc. will always be seen as better than those who are oppressed because of these privileges. As an Asian American female living in American society, I experience multiple discrimination. Not only do I experience racism, but as a female I experience sexism as well. It is difficult being bombarded with media filled with societys image of the perfect woman when I know quite well that I will never be that perfect woman. I know that I can never be that woman because my own personal image of the perfect woman is quite different from what the media portrays. In mind, body, and spirit, I believe that the perfect woman is comprised of a different type of strength, a strength goes unappreciated and overlooked in modern American society. Sexism often overlooks a womans mind. Here I will define the mind as what a person thinks of themselves to differentiate from the term spirit, which will be discussed later in this paper. Sadly, sexism affects even psychologists when they are comparing genders in their studies, leading them to think that males are superior to females. Lawrence Kohlberg is a psychologist best known for his theory on the stages of moral development. Kohlbergs theory has gained much criticism. Related to this paper would be the criticism proposed by Carol Gilligan, one of Kohlbergs associates and co-authors. She believed that his theory was sexbiased and observed that his model was male oriented because it was derived from only interviews with males. She criticized that his model, which revolved around impersonal justice, did not accurately reflect the female voice on moral matters which, Gilligan says, is based upon more affiliative ways of living. Therefore, women scored lower on Kohlbergs stages than men because Kohlbergs model is not sensitive to womens distinctly interpersonal orientations (Crain). In this same sense, I propose that against societys standards of strength, a woman must keep in mind that her type of strength is different but equal to the strength of men. In her mind, a woman should remember that she should not be defined by someone elses standards of beauty or success. She should be comfortable with herself enough that her viewpoints should not be easily swayed by other people but flexible enough that she can keep an open mind. Nelson Mandelas first wife, Winnie Mandela, is regrettably not a good example of this. She continually believed she was correct about keeping the Mandela Football Club close to her against the advice of her husband to get rid of the mafia-like thugs. Also, when she endorsed necklacing (burning people alive using tires and gasoline), she did not listen to how the press was beginning portraying her negatively or how people advised her to stop. She was too arrogant to believe that she was wrong.

If a woman is truly comfortable with herself she must also be able to love herself when no one else will. Im atheist in a Catholic family, with my father being the most pious member of our family. I was raised Catholic, but when my father found out that I didnt believe in God he cried. He almost never cries the amount of times I have seen him cry I can count on one hand. Later that day he talked to me and he told me that he loved me regardless of my religion and that he was alright with it. Unfortunately, his actions dont mirror his words. My dad truly cared more about instilling his religion in me rather than my own feelings about it, because to this day he still ignores that Im atheist and would rather not attend church services, and whenever I bring up the subject he gets very upset. Im no longer the perfect child that I pretended to be before, but Id rather stay true to myself than comply with the pressures that my family puts on me. Enormous pressures are also put on women to comply with medias image of the perfect womans body, to become the supermodels and cheerleaders that appear on television. I believe that women, again, should not be defined by someone elses standards of beauty. Winnie Mandela, when her husband was arrested, attended his court session wearing traditional regalia. Against the wishes of the judge, she continued to wear traditional regalia in the courtroom, reminding the judge of the limited rights she had in her country and that she, at the very least, wanted to keep her right of choosing her own wardrobe. This was, in my opinion, a courageous act to not comply with the dress code of the white court. She respected her self-image enough to stand up against what the white people deemed was appropriate and beautiful. A woman should also be comfortable with her body as well as her mind, despite societal pressures. She must understand that women come in all shapes and sizes and that reality is not the hypersexual norm that society expects from us. There is a strength in self-knowledge and acceptance, in letting go of societal pressures, and Winnie Mandela was obviously very comfortable with her own body and self-image. A woman must remember that she has the right to her own body, even against what is known as reproductive oppression. Reproductive oppression, as Loretta Ross defines it, is the control and exploitation of women, girls and individuals through [their] bodies, sexuality, labor and reproduction (Ross). Abortion laws are an example of reproductive oppression. Women are controlled by the law through their reproductive organs and often times, if they are denied access to abortion, the burden of unintended and unwanted childbearing often compounds social disadvantage, falling disproportionately on women who are young, poor, or members of ethnic minority groups, adding onto the discrimination that these groups already suffer (Russo). Forced sterilization is also a form of reproductive oppression. According to pundit Shanzeh Khurram, between 2006 and 2010 at least 148 women at the California Institution for Women in Corona and Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla received tubal ligation, a surgical procedure for permanent sterilization in which a woman's fallopian tubes are closed," despite the fact that the practice is illegal (Garcia). Women must continue to fight for reproductive rights and the right to their own bodies even if the government is against them because it is a fundamental right that all humans should have. Despite the constant sexual objectification of women, a woman must remember that she is not valued for just her body. I have to constantly remind myself of this. It saddens me, though, that many men do think of women as just objects. I recently picked up a used book entitled Jokes Women Wont Laugh At which was, of course, written by a man. The book is extremely sexist. For example, one of the jokes is what is the difference between a woman and an inflatable doll? to which the answer is about two cans of hair spray (Hobbes). Things like

this book make me wonder if society will deem me as unimportant if I do not conform to what society says is beautiful and expected for women. Last of all, I believe that the perfect woman should also be defined by the quality of her spirit. Here I will define spirit as a persons character. A woman should be defined by the same standards as everyone else. She should be defined by her self-esteem, her courage, her capability to stand up for what is right and for herself, her ability to face challenges, her capacity to love, her honesty, her resilience, and her desire to be the change that she wishes to see and her will to do for herself what she wants done in the world. These are not all the character traits that can define a person, but these are a few that society seems to overlook when concerning women. Winnie Mandela is a perfect example of many of these traits. After her husband was sentenced to life in prison, she took up his cause to abolish apartheid. After spending 18 months in solitary confinement, she said that it had made her stronger. Even when exiled to a rural community to break her spirit, she continued her struggle, organizing a local clinic to help the town. Winnie Mandela had the strength to keep fighting despite all the obstacles the apartheid government threw at her. Again, I emphasize the fact that a woman must know that her type of strength is unappreciated and overlooked in society. Her type of strength is different but equal to the strength of men. She must use her strength to the fullest even if mainstream society does not care for it because it has so much potential for good in this world. I compare a womans underappreciated strength to the equally underappreciated strength of introverts in American society. Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, says that introverts are just differently social than extroverts. But in a society that prizes bold, outspoken extroverts, being an introvert is a disadvantage (Cain). In this same sense, society does not reward feminine behaviors, but these behaviors have a hidden strength that not many people acknowledge simply because it is different than what American society typically views as strength. Of course, I have my own story to tell about when a man didnt appreciate my spirit as much as he did my body. I was friends with a boy at my school who was one year older than me. He was infatuated with me. After I had told him that I didnt love him, we scarcely made contact for an entire year. Then suddenly, at the end of my 11th grade year, he came back to me. We managed to get on friendly terms again, but it seemed like he was only interested in me because he found me attractive. He wasnt really interested in forming any other relationship with me besides a sexual one, judging from the conversations that we had. Was my character not important to him? Did he view me as a girl who was easy to coerce into having sex with him rather than the woman I was whose spirit kept me in check to resist him? In the end, I was glad that I was strong enough to not comply with his wishes. There are many different types of strength. However, society does not recognize the hidden strength of a woman. In mind, body, and spirit women own a different type of strength than what is praised and preferred in American society. But do not make the mistake of judging her as weak because her strength is different than what society defines as strength. Women should be defined just like everyone else. They should be defined by their spirit rather than by someone elses standards of beauty and success. In terms of spirit, I believe that women are very strong because we are still fighting oppression to this very day. Women have strength, it is just strength that is seeking a proper context and, unfortunately, American society as it is currently is not that context. I pray that someday men will see that women are just as strong as they are and that women are deserving of being treated as equal humans in every right.

Works Cited Cain, Susan. "Dont Call Introverted Children Shy." Time. Time Inc., 26 Jan. 2012. Web. 12 Feb 2014. Crain, W.C. Theories of Development. Prentice-Hall, 1985. 118-136. Print. Garcia, Saudi. "8 Shocking Facts About Sterilization in U.S. History." PolicyMic. PolicyMic, 10 Jul 2013. Web. 12 Feb 2014. Hobbes, Thomas. Jokes Women Won't Laugh At. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group, 2002. Print. International Council on Human Rights Policy. The persistence and mutation of racism International Council on Human Rights Policy Versoix, Switzerland 2000 Ross, Loretta. "Understanding Reproductive Justice: Transforming The Pro-Choice Movement." Off Our Backs 36.4 (2006): 14. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 12 Feb. 2014. Russo, Nancy Felipe. "Psychological Issues - When Pregnancies are Unwanted." Pro-Choice Forum. Pro-Choice Forum, 05 Mar. 2002. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.