Dear Mr/ Madam President,
We can no longer standby and watch as women and girls are treated with such disrespect. Women are not being seen as equals which creates too many issues such as the sexualization of their bodies, rape, different treatments in schools, and degrading them. Unless we do something women and girls will continue to be seen as the weaker sex and will never be seen as anything but less than men. Unless we do something, we will continue to have girls with self esteem issues because they aren't pretty enough, or their clothes are too slutty, or they don’t look like the popular girls. It is unacceptable that we allow men to judge women and girls in the way they do. Also, we could help so many women and girls if we simply make things equal for them. As a civilized country, the United States can not allow men and boys to judge and degrade women and girls.
When men sexualize the female body, they hurt women in more ways than one. It is not okay for women to be mentally or physically harmed when a male finds it acceptable to sexualize or degrade a woman's body. Men believe women are weaker and think it’s easier to take advantage of their bodies. We can’t accept this and let it happen any longer. “1 in 6 women
in America have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (RAINN).” The very thought of this is nowhere near okay. Men are seen as superior to women and therefore feel it their right to take advantage of the female body in sexualizing it and raping women. On the other hand, some men do not understand the true definition of rape. “According to the survey, which analyzed responses from 73 men in college, 31.7 percent of participants said they would act on “intentions to force a woman to sexual intercourse” if they were confident they could get away with it. When asked whether they would act on “intentions to rape a woman” with the same assurances they wouldn’t face consequences, just 13.6 percent of participants agreed” (thinkprogress.org). Men don’t always understand what is considered rape, but it still isn't okay. Mothers should never have to fear that their daughter may get raped. Not only does it harm women in any ways, but it also affects others in their lives.
When girls walk down the street, they are catcalled and told how good their bodies look. Many girls are “exposed to catcalling before the age of 10 (http://www.stopstreetharassment.org).” 10 year olds? 10 Year old girls are being sexualized and cat called to please the male desires and they aren’t seen as equals, but more of something that a guy might own. “Men (22%) were only marginally more likely than women (18%) to say that it is ‘sometimes’ or ‘always’ appropriate to catcall (http://www.stop street harassment.org).” It is completely unacceptable to tell a girl that her body is attractive as she walks down the street. It’s unacceptable that a man whistles or shouts a girl or women that her body is appealing to him. It’s totally unacceptable that males believe this is okay to say such things to a lady as she minds her own business, doing her own thing. In a different manner, some girls enjoy hearing that their body is appealing to men, that they got someone's attention for the way they look. When they react to their catcalling, they simply egg on the men to continue this horrible behavior. “There is a percentage of women, however small that percentage may be, that will respond positively to the catcalling. This positively reinforces the behavior (http://thoughtcatalog.com).” Although some women may enjoy this and may want to be catcalled, there is a larger percentage of women who find this to be degrading and sexual harassment. Women are not an object that men can have, they are humans too and need to be treated as so. We cannot let the sexualization and rape of women go on any longer because this only harms their thoughts and their bodies in so many ways.
It’s unacceptable to sexualize or rape females, but it's also inexcusable to let girls be treated differently in school environments. Girls today have a much different dress code in fear of distracting other people, such as males who are learning. “No backless or string back tops” “tank tops, halter tops, spaghetti straps, low cut tops, open backs are not acceptable” “skirts are to be an appropriate length for school; uncovered undergarments are not allowed (Clarkston High School Handbook, the school I attend).” What about this doesn’t target girls? Not only are there length requirements, but they can’t show a shoulder in fear of being a distraction to males. Why do girls have to suffer at school because they can’t wear something in fear of breaking the dress code or being sexualized for wearing something too exposing? Girls have to be cautious everyday not to “distract male learning” with their shoulder and have to be worried that their shirt might be just a little too low cut so she might find a guy staring down her shirt. We’ve allowed men and boys to look at female bodies as a possession and not another human's body that needs to be respected.
Not only do we see sexualization of the female body in school, but we also see the different expectations for girls. “The socialization of gender within our schools assures that girls are made aware that they are unequal to boys. Every time students are seated or lined up by gender, teachers are affirming that girls and boys should be treated differently. When an administrator ignores an act of sexual harassment, he or she is allowing the degradation of girls. When different behaviors are tolerated for boys than for girls because 'boys will be boys', schools are perpetuating the oppression of females. There is some evidence that girls are becoming more academically successful than boys, however examination of the classroom shows that girls and boys continue to be socialized in ways that work against gender equity (http://www.edchange.org).” So not only do they have to dress differently, but now girls have to act differently. Boys have the excuse of “boys will be boys,” but can we say that girls will be girls? It is unlikely that anyone would say “girls will be girls,” because then people would assume that they are neat, creative, calm, and friendly. Boys rationalize their actions when they misbehave with the excuse of “boys will be boys,” when girls are just supposed to act like proper and follow the rules. They aren’t supposed to misbehave like the boys, they aren’t supposed to make messes like the boys, and they aren't supposed to be loud like boys are.In schools today, girls are treated so much differently than boys and this can no longer be tolerated. This harms thinking, emotions, and even education. This is a world where some people seem to think men are the only successful ones around. Contradictorily, some schools find it helpful to students learning to be separated with a separate set of standards. There are now Single Sex Public Education Schools. “The movement is based on the hypothesis that hardwired differences in the ways that male and female brains develop and function in childhood through adolescence require classrooms in which boys and girls are not only separated by gender, but also taught according to radically different methods (http://www.tolerance.org).” It’s easy to see that girls and boys are not one hundred percent equal, but treating them differently at such a young age will set girls up to feel less important than men down the road. In America, we must be able to treat men and women the same starting in school to allow women better opportunities. Men are not better than women, they are different but equal.
The United States can no longer support harm to women by allowing men to judge their appearance or treat them differently. The US has created too much damage to women and girls throughout the years and it needs to change now. From the sexualiztion of their bodies, to rape, to degrading them, to unequal opportunities and treatments in school, we have harmed their thinking, their bodies, and their mentality on how they see themselves. How much more success could come from women if men are no longer degrading them but as a society as a whole treats them as equals to men? As a teenage girl, I don’t believe that there is justification for our actions when we treat women and girls like they are less than boys and men.
Clarkston High School Sophomore