The Changing Status of Women

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In Sandra McEvoy’s Introduction to Feminist Theories, we watched the film Feminism Inshallah: A History of Arab Feminism, a documentary about the changing status of women in the Middle East.  I was shocked to see that during the middle of the 20th century, women were granted many freedoms throughout the Middle East.  Although the depictions of women during the 1950s and 1960s in the Middle East were promising to see, it made me quite nervous for my future as a woman living in America. I cannot help but watch the uncovered women working independently in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon (amongst others) during the 1950s, 60s and 70s without feeling a pang of concern. Women were once allowed to lead their lives relatively unencumbered, but now women in Saudi Arabia, for example, are not allowed to drive, or to enter a cemetery, and are constantly being monitored by the religious police. This came as a result of a post-conflict national swing from liberalism to conservatism. If a woman’s independence is largely dependent on the ideology of its leaders, I worry about what will happen in America, as social conservatism grows more and more prevalent in states like Indiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.

Even in America, women’s bodies are still a part of Presidential candidates’ platforms.  Some candidates are pro-choice, others pro-life, with Presidential candidate Ted Cruz even going as far as to call birth control pills, “abortion-inducing pills.” (Salon.com).  If in the year 2015, in America, we are still debating about abortion, an issue legally settled in 1973, than how can I, as a woman, be certain of my future rights in America? The politics and policies of nations worldwide need not be played out on women’s bodies.  My countries’ conservatism or liberalism has no right to make claims on my hair, my clothing, or my reproduction.

redjacketEmily Hart is a double majoring in American Studies and Political Science and Global Studies. She is from Gainesville, FL.