In history laws have been developed and changed to protect people from harm, but how can laws protect people from harm if society sees and treats “others” unequally. Others are considered to be people that are treated as second class citizens that struggle to gain equality. “Equality means the state of being equal in which a person is the same, as good, or as valuable as another person” (dictionary.com). Equality does not exist against gender, race, and ethnicity which places women, all people of race and ethnicities in the others category. Women are unequal in different races and different ethnicities. Men are not the only ones who discriminate against women in society; women discriminate against each other as well. Throughout history, discrimination against others, especially women existing in different races and ethnicities, have been subjected to believe that they are less than “man” because society does not want to change their perceptions and according to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self Reliance” they are considered to be ingenious and intolerable. By definition, if we are seen and treated unequally, “others” are not the same, as good, or as valuable as men. From the beginning, there has been inequality within the human race especially for women.
The oldest and the most sacred book we have on earth is the Bible. The Bible is a book that is used to help guide us on earth. The Bible shows discrimination within people. Exodus 21:20-21 states “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if they recover after a day or two since the slave is their property.” In history there have been many slaves including the Irish, Native Americans and African Americans and the Bible states if you do not kill and your slave recovers within a day or two, you will not be punished. A slave, which is a person, is considered to be property. To address a person as property is degrading because property is something that belongs to you and something you can do whatever you want with except kill according to Exodus 21:20-21. The Bible also addresses women as being below men. In 1 Corinthians 11:3, it states: “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” Men have and still are considered to be above women. If the most sacred book of all states clearly that men are above us then people are forced to believe that this is true. People are not all equal. They are categorized as men, women and slaves or as just “others”.
Even after slavery, equality was not present. According to the Britannica Encyclopedia “Jim Crow laws were laws that racially segregated African Americans from 1877 to the 1950s.”African Americans were physically segregated in restaurants and had segregated schools and bathrooms. According to the Black Holocaust Museum “African Americans, dealt with Economic, Political, Legal, Personal and Social Oppression while the Jim Crow laws were enforced.” Jim Crow laws greatly affected African Americans, including female African American women. One famous situation where we can see that Jim Crow laws affected women just as much as men was with “Rosa Parks when she was told to sit in the back of the bus because she was African American, but she refused and was arrested”(thehenryford.org). Although, white women were not as greatly affected as African American women, the Jim Crow laws concept “Separate but not equal” was seen in Economic issues. “Until the early 1960s, newspapers published separate job listings for men and women. Separate, of course, meant unequal: between 1950 and 1960, women with full time jobs earned between 59–64 cents for every dollar in the same job”(Runner, Brower).Women were separated in categories even working in the same job which showed that a women’s work was not valued as much as a man’s. They had no option other than to believe their value was less and were controlled in how they were paid. Women were separated in terms of what jobs they were able to take so the opportunities. How much a person gets paid is very important because it is a source of survival. Income is used for everything including shelter, food, and clothing, thereby creating an Economic oppression for women. In “Self Reliance” Ralph Waldo Emerson, a famous essayist, lecturer and poet said to live day by day even if you contradict yourself the control on “others” limited them from doing so. Those who were oppressed just wanted to live.
An example of how “others” are treated, to feel like they are less than “man” can be seen in the book “To Kill a Mockingbird”. In the book Tom was an African American who was discriminated against at trial because of his race. In court, the law was separate but equal. The blacks and whites were able to be in the court room together, but they were seated in different areas. Tom helped Mayella a white woman to chop up a piece of furniture and one day she had tried to force herself upon him. Her father had seen them through a window and chased after him. At trial, the father said that Tom tried to take advantage of her, and when she had to testify, she agreed to what was said by her father. Although his lawyer proved that the rape allegation was a lie the jury was made of all white men. In the end, Tom was found guilty and ended up dying because he tried to escape. A man has the right to a fair trial and justice is served but because of Tom’s race he was taken to jail because of the juror’s stubbornness to use the perception of Tom being innocent and convict him. In this book you can also see an example of a women being controlled. The father lied because he was mad about what happened, and Mayella lied because her dad beat her and she did not want people to know. Tom had a wife and was trying to refuse Mayella politely. Her father was angry about her getting intimate with a black man. He physically beat her showing her that it was wrong to be with a black man and by his act mentally assured that being with a black man was something she should not do.
In reality, accusations of black men raping white women happened often. An example was of the “Scottsboro Boys, they were nine boys who were convicted of raping two white women. The boys were guilty even after one of the victims stated that there was no rape the case was tried 3 times, and 5 boys were sentenced 75 to life “(law2.umk.edu). The Scottsboro cases presented the discrimination in history when it came to black males and how they were convicted even if they were not guilty of a crime. White men were not exceptions to sexual assault to women, but the punishment for them was not nearly as severe compared to that of an African American man. “Between the year of 1936 and 1960 only 38 men where charged with sexual assault for women and only 24 have dispositions, Of theses 24, ten were acquitted and six were charged to a fine or assault sentencing for no more than five years “(Dorr, pg248). Out of 38 sexual assault cases that were reported, only six were fined or sentenced to no more than five years. To see the comparison of how many people were charged and the comparison of a rape from a white woman, which was 75 to life and to a black woman which is no more that five years shows how black women were unequal. Many more black women were sexually assaulted, but not reported because of the views that society still had against African Americans that they were less than whites.
Although discrimination continued, changes in laws were made for progress in equality. The Mississippi Trial was about the murder of three civil rights activists, one was black and two were white. There was a campaign going on to register as many African Americans voters as possible and people did not like the idea. Whites and Blacks were involved in this campaign but was very dangerous because of some people did not want blacks to vote for a candidate that would change things in their community. The outcomes of Mississippi Trial were that seventeen men were charged on violations of the civil rights act of 1964 and 1965 and the voting rights act. Edgar Ray Killen, the man who planned to kill the activists was later charged for the murders. “The Congress of Racial Equality stated that attention was brought to the disenfranchisement of black voters that led to the voting rights act of 1965. The voting rights act of 1965 prohibits racial discrimination in voting” (core-online.org). The voting rights act of 1965 gave men and women the ability to vote. To vote for a candidate that could help change or address issues in the communities. In the 21st Century, true justice has not been encountered when it comes to discrimination. Recently the Michael Brown case was presented “where a police officer shot and killed a black man who was unarmed 35 ft. away and the police officer received no charges. ”A black man has lost his life and a white police officer did not receive one charge for the crime that he has done. The police officer had to prove that it was out of defense but from 35 ft away and against an unarmed person is unreasonable to say that he felt his life was at risk enough to shoot. The discrimination observed in this case has produced many riots against the injustice observed in the Michael Brown case. When it comes to African Americans imprisoned the numbers are shocking. America’s prison population is 2.3 million and of that 1.1 million are African Americans. Almost half of the imprisoned population is black and 1.2 million is considered a combination of others such as Whites, Spanish and Asians. The statistics can either mean that African Americans do all the crimes and always get caught or that there is discrimination occurring.
Discrimination not only was observed against African Americans but with other ethnicities as well. In the book “Snow Falling on Cedars” the discrimination of Japanese around the time of the Pearl Harbor War was presented. In the book a Japanese man, Kabuo Miyamoto is prosecuted for the murder of Carl Heines. Kabuo Miyamoto father had a payment plan for seven acres of Carl Heine’s fathers land but then when the Japanese were ordered to leave they would be unable to make payments. They agreed that payments would be made when Kabuo’s father returned but Carl Heine’s dad died in the war. Kabuo Miyamoto s dad died as well so then Kabuo Miyamoto arrives to finish paying off the land Etta, Carl’s mother had already sold the land to someone else which was bought by Carl Heines. Etta Heine’s and the prosecuting attorney use Miyamotos anger of the property being sold as the reason why he would kill Carl. The injury to Carl Heines head was also similar to hitting someone with a gun with force which was observed in the war many times by the Japanese.
In the book snow “Falling on Cedars” Hatsue the defendant’s wife was told by her mother to follow their Japanese tradition. Mrs. Shigemura, Hatsue teacher to value her traditions taught her at a young age what she should and should not do. Her teacher told her to stay away from white men and marry a good Japanese man. Hatsue ‘s mother found out that she and Ishmael had love letters. Hatsues mother wanted Hatsue to be with a Japanese man as well and stick to their own traditions. Hatsue loved Hatsue but could not be with him. Hatsue then found Kabuo Miyamoto who was Japanese, married him and had children. Hatsue was influenced by her culture and what others said she should do by finding a good Japanese man. Emerson would argue that Hatsue did not have self trust because she was influenced by her traditions. She was told what she needed to learn in her Japanese traditions.
Women are limited to what they can and can’t do by society. In the film “The Accused” which is based on a true story Sarah Tobias, a woman who was raped in a bar by several men. The rape was reported by a witness and a trial was held but throughout the movie everyone thought less of her. District Attorney, Kathryn Murphy had stated that she clearly had alcohol and marijuana in her system which is where Sarah’s attorney began to think that she had a rotten character. In the film Sarah Tobias was portrayed as dressing provocatively and drinking she was looking for it which was what the attorney used to argue against her. The prosecuting attorney asked her questions such as” If she always drank? If she was wearing provocative clothes? and If she was putting on a show? to portray to the court an image of a women that always got drank, wanted men’s attention and was looking to have fun. Even if a woman was to be looking to have fun no woman looks to or deserves to be raped. It is done against a persons will. If a woman dresses “provocatively”, drinks, smokes and has a proper history they are perceived to have been looking for it. Three men had raped her and was charged with reckless endangerment which was a sentence of 2 ½ to 5 years. The charge was agreed upon between the two attorneys, which was upsetting for Sarah because it was as if the attorney did not believe her and justice wasn’t served. The attorney then helped that Mathew Haynes a man that was pushing the 3 other men to rape Sarah and was charged with Solicitation Emerson mentions in his essay “Self Reliance” he that person who is devoted to his own beliefs is intolerable”. According to Emerson society is intolerable because they want to stick with their own beliefs that women sometimes looked to be rape or want to be considered as slut. If males were to do the same things they wouldn’t be named or stated that they were looking to be raped. Men and Women are unequal because of the views that we do not change. Judicially perceptions are affected because we, as humans stubbornly do not want to change how we think and affect the way we govern and protect others.
There are laws that have been developed to protect women from sexual assault but this serious issue needs more action taken in order to see an improvement. Women get sexually assaulted every 90 seconds. Women are raped once every 6 minutes. When it comes to sexual assault there are a few laws that protect women including “The Fair Employment Protection Act(nwlc.org), The violence against women act of 1994(americanbar.org) and the Clery Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 that work together to protect students from sexual violence” (whitehouse.gov) The Fair Employment Act protects women form being sexually assaulted at work including inappropriate comments, threats , sexual assault and rape. The violence against women’s act of 1994 protects women from violence including rape, sexual abuse, physical abuse and sexual assault. The Clery Act and Title IX was recently amended in 2014 for the protection of college students. We can only wait and see if this paired amendments will have an affect but we can begin to change the way we view and treat as people and not as objects especially females because we are the ones in danger .
According to the Oxford Dictionary “The Sexual Revolution was the liberation of established social and moral attitudes toward sex, as the women’s liberation movement and developments in contraception instigated greater experimentation with sex.” Their were many things that were considered to be inappropriate for a woman to do such as be sexually active outside of marriage. Men were able to do and women wanted to have the same liberty be as sexually active as they pleased. “The pill was also introduced which allowed women to separate sex from procreation.”(pbs.org) Women have not been as vulnerable and victimized as before because they have the ability to think and say what they feel but to realize that nothing will change if a woman does give importance to their issues. Society views the human female as less than a man. Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” (oxforddictionaries.com)It is what women have to come together and create a bigger voice for, to make change. “Transcendentalism is an ideal spiritual reality that transcends the scientific and is knowledgeable through intuition. Others feel the intuition that being unequal is not right and continue to stride for equality. Transcendentalists believed in abolitionist women’s rights as well”(online-literature.com). To have people who use their intuition to gain knowledge builds a bigger support system for women and how they are treated unequally. Many transcendentalists were men giving women some support. This shows that men that were shown in the references of the bible, history, social or political beliefs they open up to away from their things such as their “texts” as stated in the essay “Self Reliance” giving opportunity to possible genius.
Women are as guilty as men when it comes to how we treat and view females to be unequal. In the article ‘The Making of a Slut” by Naomi Wolf she states that “It will not be safe to live comfortably in our skins until we say: You can no longer separate us out one from another. We are all ‘bad’ girls.” Women are judged on the choices they make such having intercourse and drinking. There are all sorts of names that have been created to degrade women but what names have been developed for men? Women are not comfortable and free to live their life just the same as men are. To party, to drink, be involved in sexual activity willingly with someone else is not something new that no there women has done but is something that is done all the time by women but women are continued to be separated because of their actions. If these actions portray us as being a bad girl or a slut than I guess almost all women are bad girls or sluts. Women are subjected to feel unsafe and caged because they will be attacked for the actions that are not attacked by when a man does it. Men are not at complete fault for how women are treated and controlled. Women are at fault as well because we use this words and judge against other females. Naomi Wolf’s article shows how females perceive a girl who is portrayed as a slut because she developed faster than other girls and was too proud for her body; the only difference was that she was poor. This young girl had made her own outfit and metallic blue eye shadow unlike the other girls who tried out who were wearing jeans was not selected because the teachers who were selecting the cheerleaders judged her because they chose who would present the school. They thought, they knew about her seeing her heavily made up smoking and hanging out with guys. This is a part of the set back of women not progressing.
Some women are unfortunate enough to live the life changing sexual assaults experiences in their life and seek to return before that time. In the book “The Pact” Emily and Chris, two young people who were raised together and everyone expected them to get married but Emily wanted to kill herself. Chris was then, taken to trial for the murder of Emily. In this book they view Chris as the Predator and Emily as the victim instead of seeing them as children who are in pain. Emily is suicidal with all the pressure of being pregnant, subjected sexual experience when she was younger, school and the relationship with Chris. He suffered because he did not want to see Emily in pain. Christopher’s prosecution was warranted because Emily died from a gunshot and the gun did not contain Emily’s fingerprints and it did contain his. The only person that was with her at the crime scene was Chris and no one else other than him new that she wanted to kill herself. The books climax provides moral justice because Chris was able to get everybody’s attention buy saying that he had killed Emily and that’s what almost everyone thought or began to think but then he explained how she was killed and it was by her pushing the trigger. The right thing to do is to tell the truth. Emerson states that we must recapture youth to find genius. Emily was very smart and wanted to stay away from what everyone else expected of her. Emily was young but not young enough to achieve genius because when you know genius you don’t know right from wrong. In order for Emily to be genius, she would have to go back to before her life changing experience of a sexual assault.
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay entitled “Self Reliance “is about self affirmation for all men and women. To know who you are and what you want. Emerson states that when we are born we don’t know what is right and what is wrong but we are eventually taught morals. These morals keep us from doing or saying what we really want to because we know that it is morally wrong or will be judged. Emerson states that we have lost ourselves through laws, regulations and text. “All of these things guide us and already lets us know what we should do or say. He wants everyone to not seek anything outside ourselves and live day by day even if we contradict ourselves the next. We must explore what is good for ourselves. Throughout the essay he uses the word man or men. Although I don’t believe his message is only to men he clearly prefers to address the essay to males with man or men. Emerson said “Society is a conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members.” He is trying to say that society is against everyone. So as an individual everyone else is trying to stop you from being who you really are and what you want to do. Society is a conspiracy against women as an individual, stopping us from who we really are and what we want to do. Women do not want to be sexually exploited or manipulated to think that we are less than men. To do this we as manhood, as individual women must stand against society or others and do what we feel and really want to say when we are perceived or treated differently. Women must go back to their youth’s perspective where they did not think about any guidelines or morals to make a change for inequality. Self-Reliance is necessary to achieve equality for women.
The equality of gender, race and ethnicities affects all because we live in a diverse world and to progress in life as an individual and as a country, perceptions must be changed. We must not continue to be intolerable and ingeniousness. Throughout history many laws have passed to give progression to equality but women seem to be vulnerable because of their physical strength against men. Women are not equal to men and to change society’s views and perception we must stop subjecting women which stops them from having any self-reliance. Self-reliance is necessary to prosper and grow as a woman and as an individual. The serious issue of sexual assault will continue to occur if we don’t do anything about it. Many females will continue to suffer including children and the elderly. This could be your child, your daughter, other family or friend. To move forward we must step out of our comfort zone and specifically men should begin to see and treat women as the same and not an object. Things can get worse and get out of hand if we don’t make efforts. Women must give importance and take actions for their own success. Equality is necessary for the well being and protection of others so that our loved ones will be safe. We will not be safe if we do not change and control our own perceptions.