Female Empowerment, Gender Equality & Breaking Gender Norms


Mc Aj Bulosan

Female Empowerment & Gender Equality


The topic of equality typically makes people associate it with women wanting more. If the topic of female empowerment is brought up, it enacts those same associations. However, neither of these are the case. Female empowerment and gender equality are very different but they have similarities such as wanting equal opportunities for all to engage in society no matter their gender.


I, as a male minority, have not experienced the hardships, the stereotypes, and the lack of representation that all women are still facing. People need to come into a realization that “females have an important role in society, and that they can affect the world as much as men,” said Nemo Paulson, a sophomore at Arlington High School who has faced these stereotypes and lack of representation. Everyone, especially with the society we have today, must understand the fact that any female is capable of doing a “man’s” job regardless of what anyone else thinks. A woman should not have to justify her choices in order to please other people. Creating a job label forms a boundary between workers, and diminishing those labels will open up the opportunity for equal pay to be taken more seriously and considered more frequently. 


The conflict of equal pay has occurred for decades, tracking as far back as 1945 during the Second World War when women began to replace men who were enlisted or fell in battle. Later on in history, John F. Kennedy signed The Equal Pay Act, one of the first federal anti-discrimination laws that addressed wage differences based on gender. Under this Act, employees are able to file a complaint or sue the company directly if they feel any type of discrimination. Ultimately, this helped narrow the wage gap. This didn’t just affect women but people of color as well. “It has been proven statistically that they can only make a certain amount of  money… the fact that a woman and any other minorities can start from the ground up and still make less than a man is infuriating,” Paulson said. A recent article from the National Partnership for Women & Families explains that women of any color or ethnicity on average are paid 70 cents compared to one dollar in a white, non-hispanic male wage. This proves the wage disparity and explains why equal pay is important.


Equal pay isn’t the only thing that women struggle with in society. Women also struggle in representation. It’s apparent that women are objectified when it comes to sports, politics, and news. For example, in January 2019 an article written by The Daily Caller, a right-wing news outlet, published fake explicit photographs of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez because they disagreed with her views. This began to disencourage women into thinking they might never see their opinions properly voiced in politics. However, there’s light at the end of the tunnel as Kamala Harris became the first African American and South Asian American woman to be elected as the US Vice President. Even if you disagree with her past decisions and policies , it does not change the fact that she made history.  


Opportunities shouldn’t be restricted by gender or ethnicity. It’s clear that female empowerment and gender equality are different however they share the same goal: having equal opportunities for everyone. In the words of Jane Addams, a pioneer in the women’s suffrage movement, “Nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon, and left one unexpended effort that might have saved the world.” Today’s society has come leaps and bounds from where it was, however there is still work to be done and an inferiority complex to break.


Breaking Gender Norms


In today’s social climate it’s easier to be who you want to be and pursue whatever you want, but it’s difficult to be accepted and taken seriously for just being yourself. People are ridiculed and mocked just for embracing their individuality. As society progresses and the upcoming generations are more aware of themselves, with the help of different platforms we have the opportunity to finally voice our truths. 


Through TikTok, people were exposed to new and different lifestyles and culture. We all know that there’s multiple “sides” of TikTok, and because of this people are being introduced to new groups they didn’t know existed before. For example, there are whole sides of TikTok dedicated to makeup, to women embracing their masculinity, and anything you can ever think of. Through TikTok people have found their voice to stand up for themselves against oppression. Ky Lurvey, a freshman at Arlington High School who has faced these struggles explains that, “It shouldn’t be a big deal if men want to be more feminine and women be more masculine, we should just focus on normalizing it.” TikTok gave people a platform where they can voice their opinions and spread the normalization of femininity in men and masculinity in women. 


We grew up in a society where suits and dirt were for boys and dresses and makeup were for girls. At a young age we were trained to believe these stereotypes and to fit in, as we got older we realized that we can be unique and be our authentic self. Our generation isn’t our parents’ generation, and we know that we don’t fit in with these myths. Our style does not define us, we define ourselves. If you’re a male and want to show your femininity or a female who wants to show off your masculinity, go ahead, go for it. What we wear and what we do does not change who we are. 


Most guys believe that being sensitive like showing their emotions and being in touch with their femininity makes them less masculine. Throughout history there’s little to no evidence of men showing their feelings because it was looked down upon, it didn’t fit their social outlook, and it made them feel vulnerable. Emma Lewis, a non-binary sophomore at Arlington High School who is very open about their emotions believes that “being sensitive doesn’t mean you a crybaby. It makes you nicer, it makes you more empathetic and this doesn’t make someone less masculine, it makes them a better person. Being sensitive doesn’t change you.” Sensitivity doesn’t change your outlook, it proves that you’re still a human being who feels emotions. 


As social media advances and new trends are created, these gender norms are becoming easily defiable. Our society is learning to understand that the clothes we wear and the makeup we put on does not define who we are. I believe that if society is so distraught over how one person presents themselves then there is a deeper underlying issue within our society. Perhaps the real issue is the inferiority complex that lies within the majority of the population.