The challenges women face today is nothing short of the barriers that women have faced since the beginning of time or human development. I’m not sure if those issues aroused when Eve took a bite of the apple that men really feel that women should be beneath them or if women are really not made to be of equal to them. I often hear men say things that can be degrading of women or attempt to stroke a woman’s ego such as “it’s a man’s world” or “men were born to lead”. Anyone that supports equality of sexes is said to be practicing feminism. In 1950, Betty Hutton lyrically battled Howard Keel in the classic movie “Annie Get Your Gun” singing “anything he can do she can do better.” The late James Brown produced the hit song in 1963 “It’s A Man’s World.” Before analyzing the lyrics, I wasn’t sure if James Brown realized that a woman had given birth to him but then I realized he was implying that he met a would be nurturing woman by the name of Betty Newsome, whom sources say he was dating at the time and he was acknowledging that she pushed him to his greatest limits. Today’s society is slightly torn between patriarchy and matriarchy but the late James Brown went on to admit in the song that he would be nothing without a woman. Women are known to be great leaders or have the ability to become great leaders because of the many attributes they possess despite the challenges or barriers they may encounter in pursuing their level of success desired. I cast a poll on social media, mainly on Facebook, to find out the barriers of other women in today’s time when it comes to challenges other women are faced with that prevents them from succeeding. I won’t reveal the poll results just yet but I must say the responses from men and women of all races were in fact intriguing.
Feminism is the belief of equality for both men and women. Since the beginning of time women were excluded from men dominated jobs or couldn’t participate in activities such as socialism, politics, or economics without the presence of a male figure, whether it was a father, brother, or husband. During the late nineteenth century early twenty century President John F. Kennedy formed a commission that focused on the issues women were facing. The commission was formed by twenty members who were actively involved in women’s rights and equality. The commission’s primary goal was to examine the policies set forth for women. Some issues was pertaining to labor laws, wages, the quality of legal representation for women, lack of education, counseling for working women, and federal insurance and tax laws. The commission discovered a widespread of discrimination against women in the workplace. Recommendations were suggested to include affordable childcare for all levels of income earning women, hiring practices, and overall promoting equality for women. The commission did not bring immediate change but the results played a critical role in promoting equality for women. Feminism was introduced in three waves. The first wave of feminism focused on women and the emphasis to vote. The second wave focused on the women’s experience politics, work, and the family. Lastly, the third wave reiterated the second wave but emphasised the race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and other defining characteristics.
In 1867, Sarah Breedlove was the first of five siblings to be born free on a cotton plantation. Breedlove became orphaned at the age of 7 after the death of both parents. Breedlove later moved in with her sister and brother-in-law where she had worked in the fields picking cotton and doing housework. Breedlove found a way to escape the mistreatment of her brother-in-law and the horrible work environment. In 1885, age fourteen proceeding the death of her first husband, Sarah and her daughter moved to St. Louis with her brothers who had become barbers. In St. Louis, Breedlove gained employment earning 1.50 a day to support her and her daughter, merely enough to send her daughter to public school while she attended night school herself. Breedlove developed a scalp disorder that caused her to have a major hair loss. Breedlove began to experiment and test home remedies and over the counter products to improve her hair loss condition. Her second husband, whom she met in St Louis, worked in advertising, created advertisements that promoted her hair care products. He also suggested that she should go by the name “Madam C.J Walker” to become more recognizable. Time passed and the couple continued to work together to promote her hair care products by giving demonstrations which included her very own formula for pomade. Time continued to pass and profit began to grow allowing Walker to open factories and beauty shops. Relocating the business operations to Indianapolis, the manufacturing companies not only manufactured cosmetics, trained sales beauticians, but also gained profits that were equivalent to several millions of dollars. Walker organized clubs and conventions that promoted her philanthropic and educational efforts among African-Americans allowing her to become the first black african american female millionaire.
In the 19th century, there were three female pioneers who was known as human computers that calculated numbers and solved complicated equations with the use of adding machines and pencils that helped to launch rockets and astronauts into space. These female problem solvers had the brightest minds of their generations. Due to Jim Crow and segregation laws these women were refused demoted from teaching positions and remained separated from their counterparts. These overlooked mathematicians was provided a chance to prove themselves and their skills after the labor shortage following World War II. Despite working a six-day work schedule fulfilling demanding tasks, these women were still expected to live by the norms of society, such as being a good wife and mother. In 1935, an Executive Order 8802, issued by President Roosevelt Franklin, was implemented ending discrimination because of race, creed, color, or national orgin. Gender wasn’t included in that Executive Order. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and the Langley Campus began to recruit women of color that were degree holders. While theses math whizzes performed the same job functions and maintained the same level of education as their counterparts, these women were forced to retake some of their college courses, were still overlooked for promotions and treated differently, having to use different restrooms and break rooms. Hidden Figures tells the American Dream and the untold story of these group of black mathematicians who helped John Glenn orbit earth and Neil Armstrong to walk on the moon to win the space race. According to Popular Mechanics, Jackson, one of from their counterparts. One of the main characters in the movie, was asked if she wanted to be an engineer if she was white and her response was “I wouldn’t have to want. I would already be one.” John Glenn didn’t trust the work of the computer alone. He requested that Johnson check the numbers and if the numbers were correct he were ready. The mission was a success. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson were all considered Hidden Figures and became notable.
I’m positive everybody remembers the flick lean on me that was depicted to be based on a true story. Joe Clark takes the role of being a principal of a troubled high school with the intent to lift the schools overall performance. He set disciplinary actions into place to assist improve the school’s performance from banning students that were troubled academically from being involved in any extra -curricular activities till they improved. It’s’ one character that I needed to bring your attention too which was Kaneesha Carter. Kaneesha Carter was the daughter of young welfare recipient mother who had turned her back on Kannesha Carter inflicting Kannesha to face life on her own as a child. Kanessha cried to Clark for help and support and Clark did all he could to assist Mrs. Carter and young Kaneesha. Clark seemed to have had the student’s best interest at heart despite the backlash he received.
Maggie Anderson is a woman who wears many hats outside of being a wife and mother. She’s an author, activist, and expert. She and her family is internationally known for the EE, or Empowerment Experiment Movement. She alongside the support of her husband and two young daughters decided to experiment and watch how they spend their money. They vowed to only patronize with black owned businesses. The time span of this experiment was a year long and in their experiment they realized that the power of a black dollar and how patronizing with black owned businesses could strengthen the black community. They drove hours and miles to find the basic household necessities such as food, shoes and clothes, etc. In the conclusion of their experiment they provided their results to institutes such as Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, where her husband John obtained his degree in finance. With the data collected, they were able to prove that millions of jobs could be created that could reduce crime rates, unemployment, and possibly increase educational literacy within the black african american culture. Maggie and her family has won many endorsements, prizes, and gained national recognition but the Anderson family also received many threats by conducting this experiment. She and her family continues to tour the country to present this opportunity and share the results in hopes this study has revealed would inspire others and rescue the struggling communities. I had the opportunity of her her speak back in 2017 when I was nominated for an award in the Best In Black awards show hosted every year by the TRI-State Defender here in Memphis. She was a humble young lady and I most definitely learned a lot from her and her experiment.
Then there is this now thirty-five year old african-american female who dropped out of high school in the twelfth grade, to help support her mom to raise her and her four siblings, with needing only two credit hours and the passing of the TCAP test. She decided to go back to school and obtain her high school diploma from Messick Adult Center in 2007. Upon dropping out of high school she felt that all odds were against because she didn’t have the proper education her while only working fast food jobs to sustain. She has since started her own small business and is the senior district tax practitioner at a local tax office providing tax support to individuals and small business owners, helping them to know and understand their business financial health. The road hasn’t been a smooth road for her especially receiving little to no support at all with raising two black african american boys, though she refuses to give up.
All of the ladies mentioned above share something in common. They proved that despite the issues that they were faced with, they were determined to succeed. Even though men are natural born leaders and we know a lot of successful men, but this world would be nothing without a woman. Women should be given a fair chance. Education, gender inequality, lack of support, and other barriers including funding for those that are inspired and maybe even forced to start their own business are just a few challenges women face. Statistics show that most women are just as qualified as men but for some reason women are overlooked, still receiving less wages than men and their counterparts, and even lack the support they need to thrive. Women, especially black african american women have higher education than then men and their counterparts, some may have more responsibilities but they are also proven to great nurturing, empathetic leaders that can wear many hats. Men would never be the same as women and vice versa but the issue is about equal rights and access to equal opportunities. Men fear that women may gain power, influence, authority, and control and weven economic opportunities. Many people believe that feminists wants to control to put men down, that’s not true for some. Women dream big, can handle crisis situations better than men, and is known to be motivated by challenges. Women were denied education, lack of support, and faced gender inequality that prevented opportunities. Women’s right movement in 1960 and 70’s became a diverse social movement that sought to create equal opportunities and freedom for women.