Growing up in a predominantly Catholic family and choosing to attend a private, mainly Roman Catholic college, birth control is a very controversial topic in my mind. There are good and bad aspects to it. Roman Catholics see it as a form of abortion; killing a baby before it has a chance to live. Some see it as the path to women’s rights. The article I’m analyzing sees it from the second point of view. The main point of the article isn’t about birth control but it has a great deal to do with what I’ll be analyzing.
The article is entitled, Wars: Imagined and Real. The author, Andrew Rosenthal, starts off explaining what he means by the title. He writes about how politicians are often comparing conflicts to wars and usually they’re not warlike at all. He gives examples of those that are not actually wars, such as the War on Poverty or the War on Drugs. He then states that the War on Women is an actual war amongst politicians (Rosenthal). He goes on to speak about the back and forth conflict of women’s rights referring to abortion and contraceptives. After he writes about that, he starts to proceed into the topic of economy and job loss in the past couple of years. Rosenthal also makes very interesting points about the media misleading people. I find this all very intriguing and it definitely relates to my group’s topic of women’s rights in the workplace.
Rosenthal makes a valid point that birth control issues and women’s rights go hand in hand; if women did not have proper birth control, more and more women would have no choice but to stay home and raise their family, or choose a life of celibacy (Rosenthal). That is a very interesting argument to me because I think it really brings us into the topic of sex vs. gender. According to the Anderson/Collins excerpt we read in class, sex refers to one’s biological identity as male or female, and gender refers to the social identities attributed to women and men (Anderson/Collins). I think these definitions play a big role in this battle concerning women’s rights and contraception. If it wasn’t for the biological identity that women are born with, there wouldn’t be a need for birth control or any types of contraception. I don’t want to say that childbearing is holding women back, but that’s the main reason they didn’t have equal rights in the first place. If they were blessed enough to have a child, many people in this world saw that as a burden. They weren’t allowed to work; their sole position in life was caregiver of the children. Birth control and contraception have made it possible for women to take on their role in the world that is the gender of women, not just their biological identity.
In Rosenthal’s article, he mentions that Mitt Romney claimed “92.3 percent of the job losses during the Obama years has been women who’ve lost those jobs” (Rosenthal). Then he quickly states that that claim is very misleading (Rosenthal). That percentage is accounting for only the time that Obama has been our president. If you go back two years earlier to when the Great Recession began, men have lost more jobs than women (Rosenthal). I think the misleading claim that Romney made happens more often than not. The media is constantly misleading us in more ways than this example; they are constantly trying to tell us what to think about and where to focus our attention (Wood). The media focuses our attention to people and events that are most important (Wood). We typically believe what we see, read, or hear so that gives the media a lot of power. In regards to the earlier comment about 92.3 percent of job losses being women’s jobs, if someone hadn’t done further research into that comment, people would’ve believed that Obama was the main cause of all the women losing jobs. The media has a lot of power, and they can be very misleading sometimes. In the Anderson/Collins excerpt, they state that “ideologies claiming that women are now equal to men have led many people to believe that sexism is disappearing (Anderson/Collins 84).” Yes, we see more women in the workforce, but where in the workforce are these women? A lot of the women in the workforce are in gender-segregated, low wage, stressful job positions (Anderson/Collins). Some are in higher management positions but most are in retail or government; which is why so many have had trouble getting their jobs back (Rosenthal). A lot of these women are younger, too. They’re learning more and more in college about sexism and how important it is to utilize the rights they are given.
In conclusion, sex vs. gender and media play a very big role in women’s rights in the workplace. I’ve definitely learned that the sex of a person can be a hindrance to the rights that come along with the gender of a person. I’ve also learned that the media can be very misleading but also very informative. We have come a long way as a country and I like to believe that we will keep moving forward with this topic.
Anderson/Collins. "Conceptualizing Race, Class, and Gender." 2009. 67-88.
Rosenthal, Andrew. "The Opinion Pages." 13 April 2012. The New York Times. Article. 19 April 2012.
Wood, Julia. "Gendered Media." Gendered Lives. Cengage Learning, 2010
Author: Holly P.