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It’s 2017: Why is There Still a Stigma Against Women Being Confident, Assertive, and Proud of Their Achievements?

2016 may have been the year of the woman, but there is still a long way to go in the feminist and post-feminist era. Although there were many firsts for women in 2016 such as the electing of Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American Muslim female legislator, and having more women enrolled in law schools, there is still a struggle for women in daily life in that they receive criticism or are looked down upon for being assertive. This stigma is one that people all across the world are working together towards getting rid of; more relevant to today is the recent women’s march that stood up for women’s rights as well as other human rights and was the biggest post-inauguration protest in all of history.

Firstly, I did some reading up on the stigma against women and impacts of sexism and found that other women had extremely similar experiences to each other. Overall, women said that they felt that their male counterparts when co-managing were more respected by the rest of the members of a group, and that she felt less confident because she heard whispers that she was being called bossy despite the fact that she was doing the exact same work and presenting the same way that her male co-manager was doing (Burke, 2014). Later I found that, Nicki Minaj had made a statement that received a lot of attention that I interpreted to mean that when a woman is assertive she’s bossy, but when a man is assertive he’s a boss. What I took away from those statements is that being more aware of our thoughts and self-reflecting when a woman is leading versus when a man is leading, we can change how we view the leadership of each gender to be equal views. If more people can do this, we will be able to raise the percentage of women that are in the positions of power everywhere because right now that percentage is not even close to 50% in any industry. This double standard between the genders will hinder and is hindering the next generation of girls who could become successful women in STEM fields, as CEOs, women of power, women in politics, the first ballerinas to make a stage never that never before featured a female lead, and leaders of wonderful philanthropic foundations. However, some women drop out just because they feel out of place or that they do not deserve to be of such a grand title. No one should feel that they are incapable of something just because of their gender or any other discriminatory factor, nor should anyone make someone feel that way. By changing the way girls and women are perceived when they show strength we can get more young girls to chase their dreams and be confident that they can succeed. Feminism is not just about getting girls and women to be strong because most find a way to bring out their inner confidence by adulthood–feminism is about “changing the way the world perceives that strength” as beautifully stated by G. D. Anderson. Feminism and gender equality is really about fairness; either gender should be given equal chances to achieve their version of success.

Furthermore, you may have heard on the news recently: that some want to defund Planned Parenthood. Doing so will actually prevent women from basic health care such as cancer screenings. I feel it is important that everyone knows that and is aware of the effects of laws and keeps human rights and needs in mind. All in all, we are still in the journey of feminism, which advocates for the equal treatment of men and women. Yes, we are also rooting for equal treatment of men. We will get there. One day all people will be treated as equals and this is not an ideal or a naive idea because look at how far we have come. We have overcome obstacles that were first thought to be hopeless and impossible to defeat.

To end on a lighter note, I hope everyone loved the message of being hopeful for the future of the world in this day and age that we will make a lot of progress as communities and globally. from the movie, Hidden Figures. Also, another feat is that after two years of hearing about Margaret Hamilton, the woman who made the code that sent the first man to the moon who was not recognized, Barack Obama finally honored her with a major award that made me and many people around the world fill with joy and appreciative that we live in a time where there is hope and people that believe in us. This is an example where women are appreciated and we want more of this. We have come far in our town here, and we are privileged to live in this bubble of Latham, New York. We look forward to getting our learners permits and licenses when in parts of the world women are not even allowed to drive. Even more interesting is the fact that in the country that has no female drivers, it has the most motor accidents out of all of the countries in the world. However, here, at Shaker High School, we have the opportunity and support to pave pathways for ourselves and we have the privilege of choice. In New York State, we have what a lot of women do not. So while there still are some issues with feminism everywhere, we also have a lot of support surrounding us. So go out there and conquer the world and hopefully come back and help the rest of your community. I urge you to reach out globally to help others that are less fortunate. There is a new club here at Shaker that you can join called UNICEF club, which defends the rights of children globally and a great foundation for youth, and that is something you can join if interested. Lastly, I want to leave everyone, especially youth, with something to apply based off of the final speech by Michelle Obama: be bold, intelligent, unafraid, and believe in yourself.