Presumably, the 21st century is marked with a heated debate surrounding the issues of women rights. It is worth mentioning that the conflicting nature of this matter is induced by the recent improvement of women’s position in all the facets of society. The U. S. women have been coping with the American gender standards since the 18th century and managed to achieve the desired effect that leveled their rights with the male ones. In the United States of America, males and females are practically equal nowadays. This particular result has been attained with the women’s persistence throughout the history. The purpose of this research paper is to view the issues of women rights from the historical perspective and to lay an emphasis on the facets of the American society that are still distinguished because of the violation of women rights. In spite of the enhanced recognition of women rights, a tremendous amount of preconceptions, judgments, and biases are directed toward women’s actions, converting them into the victims of violation and endless gender discrimination.
Seemingly, a significant amount of research dedicated to the issues of women rights exists. Women rights are mostly analyzed from the historical perspective with the need to clarify the synchronic and diachronic aspects of the feminist movements that resulted in the equality of male and female rights (United States Commission on Civil Rights). Researchers are also exposed to enlarging upon the role of suffragist movements in the history of the United States of America (Mead). Interestingly, the historical perspective includes the way that women had to overcome in order to obtain the rights that would give them the opportunities to work, vote, be elected, have more rights in a marriage, be educated, earn equal pay, be provided with a maternity leave, social security, etc. (Peters and Wolper). In the American context, the studies have been conducted to show that basic women rights for social security are violated (Hayes; Reviere and Young; Sabina, Cuevas, and Schally). As the United States is the country marked with cultural diversity, the studies are also dedicated to exploring the problems of Latin and African American women (Sabina, Cuevas, and Schally; Hayes). In addition, different books and articles explore the position of women in the American prisons that are basically considered to be the core of women rights’ violation (Weatherhead).
The History of the Feminist Movement
Probably, it is reasonable to mention that the slight reconsideration of women position starts in 1790 with Murray's On the Equality of the Sexes that puts an emphasis that it is actually wrong to consider women as ‘the emblems of weakness.’ Feminists in general press for the right to benefit from their own culture. ‘Benefitting’ means exposure to education, work, and equality. Specifically, there are two waves of feministic movement that start in 1840. Although they generally proclaim the importance of women rights recognition, the first wave cannot be treated as radical. However, it is true that 1869 is marked with the creation of American Women Suffrage Association, that has made a significant contribution to the history of women rights. The members of the above-mentioned association aimed at obtaining the right to vote through the 14th Amendment but failed. However, the 14th Amendment, in particular, manifests itself in the recognition of women rights as citizens of the United States and guarantees them prevention from discrimination in all states.
At length, endless failures, efforts, and achievements of the feminist movements result in the ratification of women demands to vote in the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the Unites States or by any state on account of sex” (United States Commission on Civil Rights 1). With the course of time, the attitude directed to women-voters has changed, as long time ago they were believed to vote for the wrong candidates.
Apart from the right to vote, feminist women were mainly fighting for the right to be educated and make a professional career. Interestingly, the Oberlin College was the first to include women in 1883, while in 1972, women were allowed to be educated. In 1964, the Congress has promulgated a Civil Rights Act that prohibited discrimination in employment. However, although today in the United States a person is guaranteed to be employed without taking into consideration gender, race or color, this particular promise does not match the reality when it comes to higher job positions. As women are still believed to be incapable of arriving at sensible decisions and inappropriate for certain professions, they are usually rejected. Thus, a number of refusals that women receive may serve as a vivid example of gender discrimination.
Another controversial issue that was caused by the allowances in employment manifests itself in the women’s need to get an equal pay. This particular need was satisfied in 1963 by the enactment of an Equal Pay Act that banned any possible differentials in the payment system in the context of male and female work. In addition, the possibilities to have a part-time job were created ten years later, in order to facilitate the ordinary life of women in the domestic settings.
Long ago, women were not employed because of the pregnancy-related issues. This matter also had the implications for the American law system. Due to this reason, a woman was provided with a right to have a maternity leave for a fixed period of time. However, even nowadays, discrimination of pregnant women remains relevant in the workplace. According to M?kel?,
Almost half of all working women in western countries have experienced tangible discrimination on this basis, such as being denied training opportunities, changes to job descriptions, criticism of their performance or appearance, reduced working hours and dismissal without good reason after the announcement of pregnancy.
Women Rights: Military Issues
The role of women in military issues is rather limited even nowadays. It is due to the reason that women are believed to be inappropriate for the military because of a number of reasons. This issue is rather controversial because some women consider themselves suitable for such positions. Concerning the historical perspective of such an issue, one may notice that the role of women in the military settings was expanded in the course of the World War II. According to the United States Commission of Civil Rights, “Federal Law, until 1978 prohibited women from serving on board most ships of the Navy” and still bars them from aircraft engaged in combat missions (11).
The conflicting views exist concerning the rights of women to stay in combat. The role of women in the military is rather a double-edged sword. Thomas Owens, in his thought-provoking article “Coed Combat Units”, sheds light on the role of women in combat, general drawbacks of their actions and presence on the battlefield. His main point of view consists in acknowledging the fact that women are not disposable even for the temporary stay in combat. Among them, one may notice women’s and men’s distinctive physical features, double standards, and the wrong type of comradeship that may follow women’s presence in combat. These leading factors can affect the success at the battlefield. Therefore, the author exemplifies that women should not be involved in combat by means of telling the difference between men’s and women’s strength. The latter appears to be weaker and prone to physical deterioration while in combat.
The issue of women in combat is also controversial within the frames of the feminist movement in general, as some women are strongly committed to peace. However, as there are women who strive for being the participants of the U.S. military, it is reasonable to remark the opposite viewpoints. Mellissa Herbert brings into focus the integration of women into militarism and lays an emphasis on the words of Judith Hicks Stiehm “Were women to enter combat, men would lose a crucial identity – warrior” (35).
Apart from the above-mentioned women rights from the feministic and historical perspective, one should take into account numerous violations that take place because of the women’s immigrant position in the United States.
The Violation of Women’s Human Rights: An Immigrant’s Perspective
Cultural diversity in the United States in particular tends to manifest itself in the presence of different races and ethnicities in the American cities. Although the American law is nondiscriminatory in nature, immigrant women tend to become the victims of the violation of their human rights (Peters and Wolper). For example, Latinas’ immigration proves to be quite a traumatic experience. In fact, it is possible to explain this statement by integrating the research based on its link to victimization and acculturation. Specifically, acculturation is a factor that conceives Latinas’ victimization, including “physical assault, sexual assault, stalking, and threatened violence” (Sabina, Cuevas, and Schally 13).
However, it is crucial to admit that the rates of victimization are dependent upon the levels of acculturation and the birthplace. Research shows that Latinas born in the United States experience less influence of this particular phenomenon. In fact, discrimination is a prevailing factor that is accountable for Latinas’ and African American women health problems. In the context of Latin American women’s life, it is evident that discrimination is also the result of the immigrant status. Therefore, Latinas continue to experience discrimination at work, that triggers a decreased psychological status. Presumably, the immigration status serves as a determinant for the abusers.
African American women are also exposed to a great deal of discrimination. The reasons for such an exposure are the same as the ones concerning the Latinas. Diana Hayes sheds light on the history of African American women in America and concludes that they are overworked. Their struggle is far more different from the struggle of feminists, as African American women have been subjected to far more oppressive attitudes in the society. According to Hayes, “African American women in the US today are thus fighting several battles at once […] Black women unequal status is a result of gender discrimination exacerbated by economic and racial discrimination” (57).
Undoubtedly, the conflicting views take the stance that women are no longer victims of gender discrimination as they have similar rights as men do. This idea may be refuted by stating that a great deal of prejudice is put on their way of living. In this case, it is reasonable to make a distinction: nowadays, gender discrimination manifests itself at the level of attitudes.
The Violation of Women Rights in Prisons
Not surprisingly, old problems in women’s prisons still exist. Many of the imprisoned women experience mental health complications because of the atmosphere that the prison is concerned with. There are obvious problems with sexual abuse and the overall attitude to women in prisons (Reviere and Young). The states have rules that do not allow the imprisoned female inmates to have the parental rights. Continuous exposure and a lack of privacy have allegedly resulted in the serious stress in some situations. It goes without saying that female offenders suffer from sexual abuses (due to a number of male officers), mental complications. Other violations of women rights in custody are also mentioned in Amnesty International Report. In addition, Weatherhead mentions that women suffer from the lack of medicines. Unfortunately, there are some states that do not criminalize sexual relations between the staff and inmates. It does not seem right that the reports from a number of states that were received by Amnesty International show that there has been victimization of the inmates who had reported the cases of sexual assault. This instills fear of revenge and helplessness felt by the women inmates.
Implications for Further Research on Women Rights
Unfortunately, this research paper is limited to the key concepts that present women rights in general and investigates the violation cases. Although the legal aspects of women rights are clear, more should be said on the violation of women rights in the American context. The research that would basically include the statistics of women rights that are violated is needed. It would shed light on the blank gap that exists within the frames of women's life in America in general. Even though it is difficult to concentrate on all the women rights in terms of their current violation, the research should investigate what rights are subjected to neglect and squalor.
It is necessary to admit that women are still prejudiced nowadays. The main reason for this consists in the past of women in general. The level of the underlying prejudices provides a background for the assumption that there is still a great deal of sexual discrimination. The most traumatic experience is gained by the Latin and African American women because of the immigration. However, immigration is the concept that is too vague for taking it into consideration. These women become sexually abused because of different reasons, while the key is that they differ in color and tend to be weaker than an average American woman. The research paper has delineated the key concepts of feminism that led to the recognition of some of the women rights and determined the cases of violation. Although women have different rights that bring into focus their equality with men in the Unites States, they are still subjected to gender discrimination.