Opinion | Sexism and the oppression of women needs to end once and for all

Despite societal progress the United States made in the past several decades, sexism is still a major factor in workplaces, from hiring practices to day to day work.


Katie Goodale

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y, exit the stage after a rally at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. Sen. Sanders and Rep. Osasio-Cortez spoke on climate change and women’s rights.

Hannah Pinski, Opinions Columnist

The recent interaction that took place on the Capitol steps between Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Ted Yoho, R-Fla. has sparked a wake-up call in American culture and society. After the first report that was published by The Hill, reporters heard that Congressman Yoho called Ocasio-Cortez a ‘f—cking b—’ after calling her disgusting for believing that the reason for an increase in crime in New York City was due to poverty and unemployment.

The incident between Osacio-Cortez and Yoho illustrates the bigger issue in American society that must end: sexism and the oppression of women.

American culture has always set standards for women. Stereotypes such as women being the “housewife” while her husband goes to work, the expectation to take care of the kids and being responsible for the cooking and cleaning existed up until around the 1960s. Women have also been labeled as “silent and submissive,” told to just “stand around and look pretty” and taught not to have an opinion.

Even today, mothers are seen as the parents who should sacrifice their work to raise the children. In addition, women who do choose to have a career in the workforce are oftentimes given more routine jobs that fail to provide ways to advance in the workplace in comparison to their male counterparts, who receive more experience leading to leadership positions.

However, it’s more than just stereotypes and labels that have produced sexism. It’s the fact that women who are assertive are seen as aggressive and difficult, women with a strong opinion are outspoken, and women who are leading are seen as bossy.

Even when women attempt to be humorous, they’re viewed at a lower status than women who aren’t humorous in the workplace, whereas men who try to be humorous are seen at a higher status. The exact same action, except it punishes women and rewards men.

For too long, society has allowed itself to define and set standards for women. When a woman tries to break these standards and create her own path, society tries to put her “back in her place.” People see this as dangerous because they are breaking the “rules” and becoming more of a voice in American politics and culture where it has been dominated by men for centuries. They’re scared because they know the power once held in one group of people is now being transferred into a minority where they are determined to change policy as well as societal structure.

Women like Ocasio-Cortez are shaping the new idea of a woman where she cannot be told what her place is in this world. She is teaching young girls that they can be whoever they want to be, and anyone who tries to stop her will be held responsible for the abuse and sexism that has been accepted in American society for too long.

It’s time for traditional stereotypes and dismissive sayings to end their place in American culture. It’s time we recognize that a woman can be whoever she wants to be and where her value comes from her ideas and actions rather than her physical looks. It’s time we normalize that women are treated with equality in respect to their opinions, opportunity in leadership positions, and defining her role in society.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.