Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Comparison of American Women's and Girls' Rights and AA Rights
When I say women are the most oppressed group in the world people rarely disagree, but I often hear people say that in the United States blacks are more oppressed than women. I suppose I would have to research this topic full-time for about a year to get reasonable evidence proving one theory or another. However, based on brief research it appears that women are more oppressed than blacks in the United States.
The amount of oppression increases with the number of people. For example if 10 people are oppressed by not being able to vote then that is worse oppression than 1 person not being able to vote. Women's greater numbers than blacks increase the damage that sexism inflicts on society. Again, I'm not saying women are or are not more oppressed than black men; I’m making a point that increased numbers means that the damage of oppression is greater all else being equal.
However, degree of harm also determines who is more oppressed. For example, oppressing a group by not letting them vote is worse than oppressing them by limiting their voting locations to a segregated area. Both are forms of oppression, but one is worse than the other.
People often say slavery is the main reason blacks are more oppressed than women. Yet slavery still exists and women and girls are the main victims. Also, in the current system of slavery females are harmed more than males because females are much more likely to be sex slaves. Benjamin Skinner, author of "A Crime So Monstrous," said, "There are more slaves today than at any point in human history." In an interview with Salon.com he cited a recent estimate that there are currently 27 million slaves in the world. http://www.salon.com/books/int/2008/03/27/slavery/print.html
The US Department of State and the CIA estimate that each year about 50,000 women and children sex slaves are trafficked into the United States.
And the Polaris Project says "Victims of human trafficking in the United States also include U.S. citizens and residents trafficked within its borders" (http://www.polarisproject.org/index.php? option=com_content&task=view&id= 60&Itemid=81). Sexual slavery and other types of rape are a form of sexism. Peggy Reeves Sanday found that in societies where men do not dominate women there is virtually no rape.
Also note that for thousands of years most non-black U.S. women's ancestors have been oppressed by men. So though African-Americans were oppressed for hundreds of years in the U.S., women have a much longer history of being oppressed by men going back thousands of years. And women African-American slaves were raped more often than men and being raped is worse than working on a farm, as a carpenter, etc. So even among African-American slaves, women seem to have been oppressed worse than men.
In politics both women and African-Americans are not represented adequately.
50.7% of population is female (2006 Census)
16.3% of Congress is female (32% representation)
16% of Senators are female (32% representation)
12.8% of population is black
9.2% of Congress is black (72% representation)
1% of The Senate is black (8% representation)
A brief look at the government based on Senate and Congress shows that in general blacks have achieved more representation than women. Neither blacks nor women are represented in the presidency but blacks have an advantage over women because some presidents have been part black and because the press and Democratic Party overwhelmingly preferred a black man over a woman with many more accomplishments and experience than him. So, based upon brief research blacks have gone farther politically than women in the U.S. This is evidence blacks are discriminated against less than women politically.
Economically, based on a brief look at income levels, women and blacks appear to earn about the same amount. Looking at Wikipedia figures I calculated the average income for women to be approximately $28,000. This includes Hispanic, black, white, and Asian women. The average income of blacks (men and women) was approximately $28,000 also. Note that black men earn approximately $3,000 more than white women (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Income_inequity_US.png).
Other than political and economic equality, the third major category of equality is social equality. The social realm includes religion, the arts, education, customs, etc. In the social realm black men have some greater advantages than women such as that most priests are men, that our language uses “he” to describe a human being, and they are more protected from sexual abuse.Black men have much greater power than women in organized religion because churches, temples, etc. are almost always led by men. Women have more power than blacks in education, Women represent 36% of full-time faculty (71% representation) and blacks represent 5% (39% representation).
Female students also have made more academic progress than black students. The social realm is very complex so that there are some areas such as religion where black men dominate and another area such as education where women dominate. But when you look at extreme hate crimes involving murder and bodily harm women are attacked more often than black men. One form of hate crime is rape and rape against females by males is common. Even when men are raped as Catharine MacKinnon noted, they tend to be raped as women (penetrated). And yet attacks against people based on their skin color seem to be much less common. So females suffer from much more extreme social oppression than blacks. Females are frequently raped and enslaved for sex and society does almost nothing to prevent this abuse or punish the abusers. So, although I don't have all the facts based upon what I know socially sexism causes more harm to females than racism does to blacks. Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American presidential candidate, said she experienced more sexism than racism.
Therefore, based upon brief research blacks have slightly more political power than women (based on their numbers). Blacks have been able to achieve about the same economical achievements as women. And socially, in my opinion, sexism inflicts more damage to women than to blacks, especially extreme damage. So overall, U.S. women are more oppressed than U.S. blacks.
Posted by Nancy Kallitechnis at 11:37 AM