A Woman’s View: To be less than

In the past year or so when writing this column, I’ve usually get my ideas from the women I meet and the issues that concern them.  I also have found issues that I feel are overlooked, if they are even recognized at all.

So it may seem odd that this column was inspired by a man.  He explained his discontent about the fact he was looked down on as though he was less than what he really was, and that being looked at as “less than” is the worst thing.  Having heard this, I began to think of how many times women quietly endure the less than stamp.  So many men despise this concept, and yet women are constantly subjected to this incorrect assumption in all facets of life. 

If you are skeptical of this theory take a moment and think: how many times has an attractive woman been referred to as less than intelligent?  How many times has an intelligent woman been referred to as less than attractive?  Too many times women are belittled and viewed as less than something or someone by the threatened male that needs to make females inferior in his own mind.

Not convinced yet?  How many examples can you think of when a male referred to his successful female colleague as some who slept her way to the top?  Eleanor Roosevelt may have made an impact when she stated, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” but how true is that quote really?

“I totally know exactly what you mean by this.  I was so smart in school and all through college and guys just looked at me like a troll,” Trisha from Bells Corner said. “So many times they would put me down, and I did start to feel less than adequate.  No woman should hang her head because of what a man said — or anyone for that matter.”

Women, who often think with the emotional side of their brains, let these criticisms into their head and begin to feel themselves as less than.  Less than intelligent, less than successful, less than physically capable, less than pretty and the list goes on.

These feelings of less than are not confined to our beloved city, but stretch all over the world.  I am sure that we are all aware of the lack of human rights women are faced with in many countries; feeling less than a human is something no person should ever have to endure.

“I moved here from the East and was pleasantly surprised by the many rights women were afforded, but at the same time shocked at how third world this country could be on certain important issues,” Aziza of Fox Chase told NEast Philly. “Even my place of employment keeps the women down by saying we are not strong enough to do a man’s job.  That may be true in some cases but this was a typing job.”

Natash of Somerton had similar sentiments. “Whoever said we are the weaker race was full of crap,” she said. “Let’s see a man endure half the trials of a woman!  I am not putting down the ‘man’s job,’ don’t get me wrong, but that is just it – I am not putting his status down; why is it he puts down mine?”

Another great example of the less than status women endure can be found in what many might perceive as independence.  If a woman, for whatever reason, does not marry she inherits the titles of “old maid” or “spinster,” whereas a man usually is known as a “confirmed bachelor.”  If a woman chooses to have multiple sex partners, she is viewed as a whore, but if a man has multiple partners he is praised for his conquests.  This type of double standard has existed since the dawn of time, and while women have made great progress over the years, in their advancement of social standing, there are still those times that bring about the less than feelings.

“I hate when I go to the mechanic and he treats me like an idiot because he wrongly assumes I know nothing,” Frankford resident Saishia said. “I took a night course on auto mechanics and passed.  Yet when men come into the shop, even if they no nothing, they are treated like gold.”

The feeling of being less than is tough to battle but, attempts need to constantly be made in order for equality to be achieved.  Today, there are men who do agree with our issues and see that we deserve to be treated as equals – this is great progress.  With much hope, this will not sound as an angry struggle to become better than men.

This could not be further from the truth; women do not begrudge men their qualities or capabilities and that is all women seek in return – the elimination of the “less than” label.

Write in ladies and let us know if you have ever had to experience the “less than” brand because of your gender.

A Woman’s View is a column about women’s issues written by Donna Ward. The column appears every other Thursday on NEastPhilly.com. See others here. Read other NEastPhilly columns here.

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