- ABOUT SAY NO
- AROUND THE WORLD
- THE ISSUE
- TAKE ACTION
by Allison Griner
Most of my life has been spent in Florida, in the United States, where I benefitted from a culture that provides an ever-increasing number of opportunities for women. Yet, I’ve noticed that, as the number of opportunities for women increased, the derision toward women’s rights has also risen. Being too proactive or critical regarding a woman’s role in American society can result in the label of “feminazi,” or worse.
I received my undergraduate degree in Anthropology and English. Both these subjects allowed me to investigate the portrayals of race, gender, and class across cultures and art forms. Anthropology in particular stoked my desire to build bridges between communities and to cross social barriers.
In the near future, I will be moving to Vancouver, Canada, where I hope to study cultural reporting as part of the University of British Columbia’s graduate journalism program.
Gender Equality in my Community
Bring up gender inequality in my community of Jacksonville, Florida, and you’ll sound dated, as if you were reviving the 1970s battle cries of feminist legends Billie Jean King or Gloria Steinem. While institutionalized discrimination is unknowingly accepted, my American community outwardly embraces female equality as an inalienable right.
In fact, women’s rights have become such a seemingly undeniable ideal that local advocates often use it to promote unrelated agendas. In 2012, two incidents of gun violence—including one in Jacksonville—have called scrutiny to the state’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law. The debate raised the following question: when, if ever, is it appropriate to use a firearm for protection?
Inevitably, the issue of gun rights became enmeshed with women’s rights, portraying females as victims in need of defense. Former Jacksonville resident and current Florida state senator Don Gaetz and his son wrote an editorial against “anti-gun” groups that attacked the “Stand Your Ground” law. For Gaetz, those “calls to repeal” were inherently “anti-woman.”
Issues like gun rights stir up popular sentiment about the protection of women without confronting the issue of gender equality head-on. With or without a gun on their belt, women have yet to attain the same status as men within American society. For example, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, across all professions, the 2010 ratio of women’s to men’s earnings was 81.2%, indicating a continued gap between the genders on a basic level.
Locally, the U.S. Census data shows that less than 30% of Florida businesses are owned by women, disproportionally low compared to the 51% of the population they represent. Even when buying insurance, women are unequal: Florida currently allows health insurance companies to charge different rates based on gender.
Furthermore, the fight for gender equality does not simply end with the male-female dichotomy. As of May 2012, Jacksonville is one of the few major U.S. cities that does not protect the gay community as part of its anti-discrimination laws. The need for gender equality in my community extends far beyond the battles of women, a battle itself not yet half won.
Article by Allison