President Barack Obama delivered a strong message addressing gender equality, emphasizing how double standards are inflicted upon women when it comes to their sexuality.
“We need to change the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality,” Obama said. “But gives men a pat on the back for theirs.”
Speaking during the White House Summit on the United State of Women, where issues like reproductive health were discussed, Obama highlighted that while a lot has been done to achieve gender equality in the eight years of his presidency there is still a long way to go.
“We’re going to have to change the way we see ourselves,” he said, as reported by the Washington Post. “This is happening already, but we need to be more intentional about it.”
Quoting Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress, he said, “The emotional, sexual and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: It’s a girl.”
The president also spoke about the progress women have made in several fields. He cited the example of Democratic front runner and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, the first woman to become a presidential candidate for a major party, and Equal Pay Pledge, a White House initiative supporting pay equality which has been signed by brands like Amazon, PepsiCo and Johnson & Johnson.
“Progress is not inevitable,” Obama said. “It’s the result of decades of slow, tireless, often frustrating and unheralded work.”
While he lauded the progress that has been made with respect to achieving equality, he emphasized more work needs to be done. “If we really want workplace policies that work for everybody, it would help if we had more women in Congress. It would help if we had more women in the corner suite,” Obama said.
Some of the most pressing difficulties, he said, were violence against women and stereotypes surrounding the behavior of men and women, as reported by USA Today. Such discrimination was problematic.
Sex-shaming based on gender is another obstacle that hampers equality. According to a 2013 study conducted by University of Illinois, as many as 24,000 students believe young men are likelier to hold the double standard regarding sex shaming than females. Nevertheless, a major proportion of people – 66 percent men and 70 percent women – said they didn’t engage in sex shaming based on one’s gender.
“It was an everyday expression of a longstanding, traditional gender ideology that tethered a woman’s social value to her chastity,” Juliet Williams, gender studies professor at the University of California, said. “Things have changed.”
“Activists legitimized the idea that women not only have sexual desire but are entitled to sexual agency,” she said.
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