Shaw: Resisting the Patriarchy on Campus


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Katie

Students smile during the Women’s March on January 20, 2018. Hundreds gathered on the Ped Mall to listen to speakers and march for women’s rights. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Nichole Shaw, [email protected]

Current social issues have left individuals at an impasse as to what feminism even is and if it is still a movement needing desperate support. It is a common belief that women’s rights are equal to that of men’s, and feminism is no longer needed today. However, patriarchy is still apparent in the cultural framework, as our society halts progress towards gender equality in every workplace and professional field. Toxic masculinity has resulted from this patriarchal system and led to varying degrees of the marginalization of women such as double standards, higher expectations for women and the wage gap. To truly eliminate gender inequality, we must deconstruct the patriarchal system.

RELATED: Wit, with feminism & race

The first step to eliminating the patriarchy that fights against feminism is to recognize the unwarranted double standards institutions have for women. These standards have set women up for failure to further their pursuits in the workforce and gated women into putting in a lot of extra work that isn’t required of men. Professor Diane C. Slusarski, the first female chair of biology, believes there are too few STEM women in leadership positions.

“It is a shame, since we are a segment of the population that, if so inspired, could contribute a whole new portfolio of discoveries and unique expertise,” Slusarski said. While she notes that the university has given her great opportunities, she still recognizes that STEM has been a field with a long, consistent history of male dominance, and most women feel intimidated in pursuing a career. Similarly, history Professor and Chair Elizabeth Heineman says, “Sometimes, I have to interact with people who aren’t necessarily accustomed to a woman in a position of authority. That is part of my life.” What needs to be realized, is that these things shouldn’t have to be a part of women’s lives. Women are not Play-Doh that can be molded into whatever society expects of them. They are intellectuals with the potential to be just as dominant in fields as men.

RELATED: Gender roles, confusion, and trickle-down

Male dominance is an effect of gender bias that has been embedded into our culture. This gender bias was explicit when Professor Heinemans said, “One of my professors wrote me a letter of recommendation for jobs that said ‘Elizabeth Heineman is the best women’s student I’ve ever worked with.’ That extra qualification added on diminished my ranking.” Heineman has gone on to have the most prominent career out of all the professor’s students. The modification of Heineman was unnecessary and reflects the broken system that binds women to roles with marginalized voices.

Marginalization is shown as well in a recent analysis on average annual earnings of women working in the government of Iowa, published Sunday in The Des Moines Register, that shows women earn around $5,000 fewer than men. This wage gap is astonishing and repulsive for the women that do the same jobs of men in each department are being paid differently simply on the grounds that they identify as female. To resist the patriarchy, those in a position of power need to be pioneers in dismantling and deconstructing it, lest it continues to toxically oppress women. Get involved in transcending inequality in Iowa by breaking social norms and supporting the goals of third-wave feminism. One woman that makes it into a position of power can inspire a generation of young girls to resist the patriarchy and make a difference.

RELATED: Newton: Feminism in the 21st century


Facebook Comments