Respect must be earned

Denise Barajas

If you want respect, you have to do more than demand it.

It may be 2015 but the sad truth is that despite the numerous strides women have made over the past century, society still has a lot of ground to cover. The fact that for every dollar a full-time worker (that is male) makes a woman only earns 78 cents is abysmal. To make matters worse, if you are a woman of color, the discrepancies between the two genders are even greater.

As a Latina woman who has spent the past four years in college trying to get ahead, this is more than concerning. I, like many of my female peers, work just as hard as our male counterparts (and in some cases harder), but thanks to ongoing stereotypes, we are still seen as inferior.

Ask yourself, how could anyone see another human being as inferior just based off their sex? The answer is pretty straight forward: it is sexism. However, a more important question is why. Why are women still seen as inferior?

Some might easily attribute this inequality to males with big egos who are working to “keep the woman down.” However, I would like to challenge the status quo and say that there is more to it than ego getting in the way of us changing female stereotypes.

As a matter of fact, I would go as far as to say that we, meaning women, are our own biggest road block.

The truth is that we will never be seen as equals in a society where women are constantly being exploited as sexual objects in magazines, music and media as a whole unless there is a change.

Sure, we might not be able to get hip-hop rappers or movie directors to stop talking about or emphasizing girl’s “assets” anytime soon, but we can change our own ways to help diminish the stereotypes keeping us from obtaining equality.

For starters, people should not be afraid to address how contradictory it is for women to use their “assets” to get ahead and still demand gender equality. We cannot treat ourselves like sexual objects when it is favorable and then demand to be treated as human beings when it is not. If women want to be treated as equals, then we must act as equals, even if it means passing up on some freebies.

If a man can’t just show some cleavage to get free anything, then a woman shouldn’t be able to do it either.

I know what some readers might be thinking, isn’t that being a little uptight? My answer would be, if equality is what women want then no, it is not.

The harsh reality is that while we shouldn’t have to fight to be seen as equals, that is exactly what is necessary for us to become equals. And if that means carrying ourselves in a more respectable matter, then so be it.