After a long standing commitment, I dedicated the entire weekend to finishing the last season of Mad Men, and now I’m left with feelings of both sadness and relief. Sad that it’s over and I’ll have to find a new show to gush about, and (more importantly) relieved that I won’t have to stomach another blatant example of gender discrimination.
After seven intense seasons of severe misogyny tangled with tiny ‘wins’ for women in the workplace — Peggy as a chief copywriter, yet paid and respected like that of an assistant; Joan as a named partner, yet asked to sleep with someone to get there; Megan following her acting aspirations, which seems to always result in fights and ultimately divorce; and even Betty going back to school (I never did fully understand her motives) — I’m glad that Mad Men is just a TV show, and isn’t the societal norm.
Or is it?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we haven’t progressed at all from the 60s. It’s clear that women today are given extensive opportunities, and are not only encouraged, but are expected to take on much more than the roles of office secretary or housewife. And yes, in turn, our representation in the workplace has increased significantly.
Though, with another year of ‘Women’s Equality Day’ and ‘Equal Pay Day’ observances at our feet, I have to question if they are actually helping or hurting the progression for equality.
To be honest, I hate these observances because it feels pretty condescending. We, as a society, think it’s enough to take one day out of the year to acknowledge ‘women’ or shed light on the still relevant gender pay gap. Do we really believe pity acts like a ‘Happy IWD!’ work lunch, or a ‘Congrats on 79 cents! Only 21 more left to close!’ is actually helping the greater issue?
What happens during the other 364 days? Do we carry on living in a ‘man’s world’ until March 8th or April 10th rolls around when it’s acceptable again to spend the day celebrating our progress as so-called ‘equals’ and spam our social media portals with posts of encouragement and sisterhood?
What’s the difference between these gender observances and all of those other observances like National Donut Day and National Margarita Day? They all seem to gain traction on social media for 24 hours before they are long forgotten once the next observance is trending.
Let’s be real, progression is year round.
Declaring one day to shed light on an issue of this magnitude, which should affect everyone (regardless of gender, race, age, religion, status, background, political standing) does not feel like progress– it feels like a cop out.
Furthermore, why are we told to ‘celebrate’ these observances, when equality should be a lifestyle? A lifestyle that should have a solid place in human intuition, in daily subconscious and routine, in corporate and economical decisions, in educational systems, in political issues- in basic common sense. A lifestyle that should be agreed upon, taught by, learned from, and represented by men, women, and children.
We are in 2016. A time of voice activated laptops, neuro-technology, touch recognition, 3D printing, robotic surgery, self-driving cars. I mean, even marijuana is legalized. Yet topics like the gender pay gap, abortion rights and birth control, limited female presence in politics and economics, rape victims, domestic abuse, lack of female education in developing countries, sex trafficking are all still very much alive and relevant in today’s discussion. And, that to me is baffling. Maniacal. Aberrant.
With such groundbreaking discoveries and mind-blowing technological advances, how is our fight for equality still a ‘progression’?
Though, I know I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge some of the incredible campaigns and movements that have moved mountains when it comes to shedding light on issues and educating society about equality. The WeAreEQUALS Facebook app, the ‘Not There’ campaign by Clinton and Conde Nast, and the riveting #LikeAGirl campaign by Always are just a few examples of life changing accolades for the female gender.
But even with these amazing campaigns, I still very much hate these phony observances about equality. Not for what it stands for– but for what it still doesn’t stand for. And how much more we need to fight to get to true equality.
Progression is year round.
Fine, let’s tweet about the gender pay gap today. Let’s highlight what women have accomplished in the past decade. And let’s educate people on what our fore-sisters accomplished in the past century.
But let’s also remember to do that tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that.