Alexa Anderson Michigan

Taking America One Step in the Right Direction with Women's Rights

Women's rights and the problems American women face as a whole. Looks into Why we have some of these problems. Focuses on Wage Gap, Sexual assault/rape charges, and luxury taxes on feminine products.

Dear President,

We have seen inequality. We know the definition and the looks of its ugly face from history books, and news from other countries. We all know the inequalities that minority groups have faced from slavery to segregation, the right to education that has been stripped from so many girls in the middle-east. What we don't realize is that this monster is hidden in the shadows and very foundation of our own country. At this point you must be asking “What are you talking about? This is America”. America is by far one of the most progressive nations of the world, but this type of thinking annihilates progress which our visionaries have worked so hard creating to push this country forward. Despite what most think America is still not Perfect. Women for at least the past 100 years have been fighting for their own right to be equal to men. Despite what many think, women are still facing inequalities that are pertinent to their wellbeing. Women not being able to walk down the street without feeling unsafe is just one example. The special tax of menstrual products that insults our femininity by calling these items “Luxury” is another. Finally the famous “Gender Wage Gap” that affects all women. Some people might be inclined to think that our country is “equal enough” compared to the middle-east and other places like that. But there is one question I think this country needs to start asking, “Why?”. Why shouldn’t women be COMPLETELY equal? Why shouldn’t all genders have the same rights? Why should women have to live in fear of rape and sexual assault? Why should women be taxed more for something they already spend thousands on in a lifetime? Why should we settle for less when we can have more? Any person with a basic understanding of human rights should recognize that America- even with its greater integrity- is better for men.

To begin, the gender wage gap is an ongoing problem that women have faced for decades since the 1930’s when the problem was first recognized. On average, Women are making 78 cents to the dollar that a man gets for the same job. When one compares 78 to 100 they see no difference but what if we add three zeros to the end and say 78,000 to 100,000. That's Twenty-two thousand dollars less because the person doing this job just happened to have two X chromosomes instead of an X and a Y. Going back to “Why?”. Well the answer is quite simple, it's because it’s allowed. There needs to be stricter checks on income and pay to employees of companies. If the job level, work ethic, and time at the company are the same, then the income should be equal. My own mother was given more money for a position in the company. She was at the same level, doing the same work, same amount of time, just with different people as far as she was concerned. Her new position dealt with more difficult customers, and was not to her liking. She informed her boss of this and was then given a 12% raise to promote her.. Later she found out that the 12% raise she got was not for her new position but compensation for what she was already supposed to be getting for her job level. This situation surely brought out my frustration toward the gender pay gap and led me to ask how many more women are being duped by their companies. I found through my research that in a world with equal pay, on average single women’s income would rise 13.4%. Single Mother’s income would rise 17% on average, and married women could raise their income 6%. More money to pay off college debt, support their children, and take more pressure off husbands bringing in income as well. It could reduce levels of impoverished single mothers by 50% according to institute for women's policy research. Many people argue that paying women more would take money out of companies that hold the foundation for countries like the U.S. when in reality if women were getting paid more, they would have money to spend and put into the economy. They also argue that women don’t get payed as much to compensate for maternity leave and when the women need to take a day off because their child is sick. I personally have a very large problem with this argument. It first, suggests that women are the only ones who take care of their children, when in fact,- because we don’t live in the 1900’s and women have jobs- fathers can also take off work to take care of their children. Also, women are not the only culprit for creating that baby,we also have this thing called paternity leave. Which is why it just doesn't make sense for one to believe that the gender wage gap is morally right.

To continue, I would like to address the aggravating issue to all women between puberty and menopause. The cost of feminine products. On average a women starts puberty at age 14 and goes through menopause at 50. Through this time period women are going to spend $2,000 or more on menstrual products. This number could be significantly reduced by removing the “luxury” tax on these goods. Women are not only being paid less, but also paying more for products that they need. Also these items are categorized as “luxury” but should be categorized under “necessity” because women NEED these items every month. Possibly only “luxury” in other countries that don't cater to female demands. Women are punished for this natural predisposition that comes with being female. The American Association for University Women has found that Women pay 18,000 dollars more a year than men, including the luxury tax on female goods. Just to decrease the total sum of money could show America’s progress toward equality. Why are we taxed for something that we can't control and men don't have to deal with? We can’t change nature but we can change these taxes.

Finally, unpunished sexual assault and rape reports are becoming an ongoing issue in the united states. 1 in 5 girls in the US has been sexually assaulted in their lifetime. On average 70% of sexual assault victims do not report their cases. 3% of assaulters and rapists who have been reported receive punishment and the rest get off with barely a scratch according to The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. This is why women cannot walk outside feeling safe and confident that she won't get raped today. Rapist and assaulters are not being held accountable for the damage they have done to their victims. Women are afraid to report their cases because they believe that they themselves will be blamed for the encounter. A famous question interviewers may ask is “What were you wearing?” as if the answer to this question will tell the investigator exactly who the person at fault is. A quote by Anne K. Ream comes to mind “It’s not a lack of modesty but a sense of entitlement that leads to sexual violence. And the idea that we women can change men’s behavior by changing our clothes is not only disconcerting, it has been debunked. As millions of women know all too well, no one ever avoided a rape by wearing a longer skirt.” The idea that many people would argue against a sexual assault victim by claiming their attire was much too provocative, is gut wrenchingly sickening. As if the victim was asking to be raped. Many people argue that the assaulter’s reputation will be tainted so horribly that it will ruin their lives and that's why some cases just aren't worth the punishment. As we all know “boys will be boys”. No. Boys will be held accountable for their actions, as everyone should. As far as any reasonable person is concerned, there is no excuse for why these rapists and assaulters are being let off the hook. No amount of money can heal the wounds of rape so why can it get criminals an out of jail free card. Time heals all wounds or so they say but - like the victims of rape and assault know- some are much too deep to heal. Something needs to be done to protect the rights of these women and make sure that their oppressor is always punished for the injustice they’ve committed.

I appreciate your time reading my letter. I’m extremely passionate about making America a better place for everyone and women’s equality is a great place to start. Please take my points into consideration so we can balance out the inequalities and make sure these problems are addressed and acted upon. It affects women everywhere and if we can make a small lasting impact on America then I have hope for the whole world as well. Be an activist, a progressive, an idealist, and a friend to all those fighting for women’s rights.

With the utmost respect,

Alexa Anderson

Clarkston Community Schools

Eisele ELA 10 Honors 4th Hour

4th Hour

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