With any form of open dialogue, you are bound to run into problems. The main problem with discussing sensitive topics is distinguishing what is too controversial for a person’s current setting. The word used to describe a sensitive subject matter is referred to as being a taboo. As long as no foul or discriminatory language is used, any subject is up for debate; keeping in mind that each participant is respectful of the others’ views.
One taboo topic which remains at the forefront of American culture, is the topic of gender and sexuality in The United States. For some unknown reason, it is still difficult to discuss these topics with other people, even those which we consider family. It is 2018 and our generation (millennials) are leading the way with the open dialogue pertaining to sex and sexuality, but we still have a long ways to go.
Particularly for those who identify as female, we have been coerced throughout the course of Anglo-Saxon history into believing that if we showed any ounce of sexual fervor, we were impure nymphomaniacs. Opening this dialogue has shifted these ideals into a much more liberal light, though it was quite a fight to bring these ideals to the foreground. It is even easier to dismiss past struggles as being enough to establish equality. This is not the case.
Despite how far we’ve come, women are still unequal to men. Unlike women, men are often conditioned from adolescence to display their sexual encounters like trophies on a wall. Women, on the other hand, are often force fed the belief that they must save themselves for their future husbands. To be a real lady they must only have sexual relations with one person, their husband, for the remainder of their lives.
People of all gender-identities are still not to engage in any form of self-pleasure, nonetheless talk openly about it. We still are ruled by outdated ideals of institutions which often no longer even stand. We are to be pure in body and being, as if purity has a definition. These harsh standards derived from the teachings of the Christian church. To those standards, I call bull.
At one point in history, chastity belts were tightened around the waists of women, both literally and figuratively. Through education and empowerment, women from contrasting walks of life began to rip off those constrictive garments and express their sexuality through fashion, beauty and resistance.
Shorts and skirts rose above the knee. Risqué haircuts, such as the pixie cut, was popularized during the roaring ‘20s. Daring and bold makeup looks were implemented. However, the most important way they expressed their sexuality was through simple, old fashioned sex.
Then, with the subtle change in fashion came a much bigger resistance. There was the suffragettes of the ‘20s, the bra burning feminists of the ‘60s and of course notable feminist writers such as bell Hooks, Gloria Steinem and many, many others who pave the path for women of all walks of life, and people of all gender-identities to thrive.
Beginning with the second wave of feminism, women have been able to liberate themselves from these patriarchal ideals of the past. Alongside sexual expression, they showed men they were capable of more than just living a provincial life. Women were determined to not let their gender classify them into what they can and cannot accomplish.
The effects of the second wave can be seen over fifty years later in our current times. As of now, there are currently more women enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities than there are men. According to The United States Department of Labor, women were projected to make up 51 percent of the workforce by 2018. A decade ago, they made up 47 percent, showing a positive inflation.
We have come a long ways in the fight for equal rights, but it is a fight which is far from over. As women who have the privilege to be enrolled in college, our voices have a certain weight to them which may not be accessible to all women. It is our duty to use that privilege to continue the fight that our sisters have begun long before us.
College is the perfect time and place to discuss any social issues. There is a myriad of resources to utilize. This is one of the only times where you will be with people from all over the world with different life backgrounds. Let’s stop the stigma of subjects surrounding women’s rights being taboo. The only way to take off that label is if we have an open conversation involving the topic, and to not be afraid to stand up for what we know is right.