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Sociology Video Analysis, Essay Example

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Essay

I chose to watch the video on “Gender” which was of great interest to me because the subject of gender has been so prominent during the run-up to the presidential election and even more-so afterwards, or so it seems. During the presidential campaign, women’s issues such as contraception and reproductive rights were constantly in the forefront of the political scene, in particular because the Republican Party made it so. These incidents illustrated that gender inequality continues to be an ongoing reality in American society and is perpetuated in part by attitudes of modern sexism that permit people to express opposition to the changing role of women without seeming to be overly sexist (Healey, 2006.) A series of misstatements and incorrect beliefs expressed by Republican candidates, as well as many conservative politicians’ stands against women’s reproductive freedom, mobilized women as a powerful voting bloc who played a central role in the election’s outcome.

In the video, a statement was made that I found incredible: in the United States, although there are more women than men in the population, women are considered to be a minority group because of the way that they are treated. The definition of a minority group is: the members experience a pattern of disadvantage or in quality; the members of the group share a visible trait or quality that makes them distinct from other groups; the minority group is a self conscious unit; membership in the group is generally decided at birth; and members tend to marry within the group (Healey, 2006.) By this definition, aside from the last characteristic women in the United States indeed make up a minority group. Although women are more than 50% of the US population, there are other obvious signs of gender inequality. For example, the vast majority of congressional representatives and senators are white males; there is never been a female president or vice president in the country; on the Supreme Court, only three out of the nine justices are female; and males still have the advantage regarding wages, with women still earning only $.77 for each dollar earned by males.

Despite these realities, the two political parties in the United States have completely different approaches to women’s issues. The Democrats acknowledge that gender inequality still exists and part of their agenda is to correct that imbalance whenever possible, such as bypassing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, signed into law by President Obama. The Republicans, however, for the most part do not support such legislation, denied that gender inequality exists, and have been fighting a losing battle regarding women’s reproductive freedoms and contraception. Ignorance and prejudice regarding women’s bodies were expressed by two Republican candidates for office during the campaign; one candidate expressed that women’s bodies were able to “shut down” to prevent pregnancies following rape; another said that when conception occurs as a result of rape, that outcome has been determined by God. Those types of statements were not immediately disavowed by other Republicans, so that the election demonstrated a backlash against the Republicans and similar thinking candidates by women. This was ultimately devastating to the GOP because women constitute such a tremendous percentage of the electorate that candidates are unable to win elections if they don’t have substantial support by women.

Another misstep during the campaign was the Republican pledge to discontinue funding for organizations, including Planned Parenthood. That promise turned out to be another mistake for the Republicans, because as most people know, is very small percentage of Planned Parenthood activities involves providing abortions. Instead, it is an organization that provides healthcare for low income women, and indeed is often the only source of medical care available to such women. This and the other examples of Republicans taking positions that are downright hostile to women was a significant factor in the disastrous outcome of the 2012 elections on federal, state, and local levels.

Works Cited

Healey, Joseph. Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Class: the Sociology of Group Conflict and Change. Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press, 2006.

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