Gender equality: we’re all in this together

Allison McInnis | Assistant Opinion Editor | @allisonmcinnis_

Gender equality is something that goes in and out of the media’s attention, but it is an important issue for all of us to think about.

The University of San Diego and its student body take this issue very seriously. The USD community is passionate about raising their voices to inequalities and utilizing its resources to provide an accepting environment for all.

However, everyone has heard someone spew a sexist remark, whether it’s about a woman making a sandwich or a man being a wuss. It’s a common day-to-day experience that most of us shrug off like it doesn’t mean anything.

And here’s a surprise: according to the Huffington Post, the United States is not even in the top 20 for “Best Countries to be a Woman.” Iceland ranked No. 1 in the same poll and the U.S. came in at 23. No doubt there’s plenty of room for improvement for our great nation.

The women of this country, and frankly of the world, are taking notice of this profuse inequality, and want to be heard. Many of those in the spotlight have taken up a voice about this important topic.

Former Harry Potter star Emma Watson has assumed a pivotal role in the debate. Watson was appointed United Nations (UN) Goodwill Ambassador in 2014, and has soared since then, including an impassioned speech at the UN headquarters for the HeForShe campaign.

Watson expressed her strong opinions and stated that both women and men are crucial to begin the process of gender equality.

“We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes, but I can see that they are and that, when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence,” Watson said.

World renowned actress Meryl Streep pleaded to Congress by sending over 500 letters about this important issue.

“I am writing to ask you to stand up for equality, for your mother, your daughter, your sister, your wife, or yourself, by actively supporting the Equal Rights Amendment,” one letter read. “A whole new generation of women and girls are talking about equality: equal pay, equal protection from sexual assault, equal rights.”

Celebrities and politicians may begin the conversation about gender equality, but it trickles down all the way down to you as an individual.

Here at USD, women are taking notice. Halie Sonnenshein, a current sophomore in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program, said that she thinks that gender equality is something that we can all get involved in. She related the concept of gender equality to feminism, the belief that women and men are equal.

“I feel that feminism is often misunderstood because many people see it in the extreme form of the word when in fact, it means everyone,” Sonnenshein said. “Every person, regardless of race and gender, should be treated equally. And that is something that everyone should get behind.”

Women have been getting involved in all of the same paths as men are involved in since before the Women’s Rights Movement. The STEM program at USD is made up of a mix of both sexes, both equally contributing to the program as a whole.

Lately, this crucial topic has been talked about in almost every political debate, specifically by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Clinton’s campaign primarily aims to address the inequalities between men and women.

“Women’s rights are human rights,” Clinton said. “We are focusing the world’s attention to issues that matter most in our lives, the lives of women and their families: access to education, health care, jobs and credit, the chance to enjoy basic legal and human rights and to participate fully in the political life of our countries.”

Conversely, some would say Grand Old Party (GOP) frontrunner Donald Trump has exhibited some very sexist behavior. Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly pointed it out after his controversial comments at the Republican Debate in August.

“You have called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs’, ‘dogs’, ‘slobs’, and ‘disgusting animals,’”  Kelly said.

Trump responded to Kelly’s question with an off-handed remark.

“I don’t have the time for total political correctness,” Trump said.

When speaking recently about another GOP candidate Carly Fiorina, Trump pointed out her age and looks, and then related that to her ability to effectively run this country. Of course, her looks and her age are absolutely not any sort of indicator of her leadership capability. Yet some of the potential future leaders of this country share this backward thinking, so we must have a problem.

Sophomore Madylin Miller stated that she believes, to begin making real headway with this immense issue, we need the help of those who lead our country.

“This problem is never going to get better if we don’t have our country’s leaders on board,” Miller said. “It is not enough to say you stand for equality, you have to show it.”

So why should you, a college student, care about this issue? First off, according to College Prowler, USD has 3,017 girls enrolled in the Undergraduate program. That is approximately 57.3 percent of this campus. Every single woman at this school should have the equal right when we graduate to become whatever we want to be, whether it be a judge, a chemist, or the first referee for Major League Baseball.

USD even has an active Women’s Center in which both sexes are welcome. In fact, the first male employee was hired last semester. The website states that its mission statement is to help the community engage in conversation about inequality.

“Through educational programming and events, we provide opportunities for students to increase their awareness of pertinent social issues and to take action to change such realities,” the website said. “We support women in finding their voice and forming their identity, as well as empowering them to become leaders on campus and within the larger community.”

Today, we live in a time where anything is possible. First of all, we all must keep up with the issues that affect all of us. Elections are coming up. Read everything about the issues and get involved. Most importantly, get out and vote. Education is a powerful tool and ignorance is a bad excuse for doing nothing.

hillary clinton