The '10 Worst Countries To Be A Woman' List Shows How We Sensationalize Women's Issues
"Prepare to be shocked and outraged."
That's the draw into this article, posted on Marie Claire's website two days ago. The author warns that this list — of countries where she's determined it's "THE WORST" to be a woman — will upset you. And it does, but probably not for the reasons intended.
Reading through the 10 places where women's rights are assaulted every day, we're presented with horrible statistics coming out of each country.
From the percentage of women who are victims of domestic violence in India, to the unfortunately low number of women in Nepal who are encouraged/allowed to seek higher education, this post paints a pretty grim picture of how women live around the world.
But really, my issue with this piece isn't even that it uses a crass format in an attempt to attract readers to a very serious issue. We're personally no stranger to short listicles that, granted, also probably over-simplify the seriously grave and complex.
I'm upset by this article's ignorance, it's reinforcement of this notion that the Western world is good and enlightened, while the Global South countries — like the Afghanistan, Sudan and Peru listed — are backwards and basically harmful towards women.
There are obviously, certainly many things wrong with these countries' policies towards women.
We've also been quick to cover politicians' misogyny in India and the outrageous child marriage-sanctioning Jaafari Personal Status Law in Iraq, and maybe sometimes we too ignore our own country's mistreatment of women, until, of course, a convenient media opp like the mass shooting in Isla Vista, California, comes along.
But this article also entirely overlooks that many of the things they mention are not just pandemics occurring in poor or developing countries; they're everywhere.
Nepal, for instance, earned its spot on Marie Claire's list largely because the Asian country is "governed by patriarchal communities." But look at who makes the rules and dictates the social norms in every Western country, and you'll see that we're all governed by patriarchal communities.
In America, for instance, we've never elected a female president, men being the family breadwinners is still largely accepted as the normative standard, and we applauded a "historic" number of women who were elected to the US Senate is 2012 — who constitute a sorry 20 percent of that federal governing body.
The post's slight saving grace is that, at the very end of the article, they do give a sad shout out to the United States, where it's admitted that our great country actually also has a long way to go in getting equal rights and opportunities for women.
This will come as no surprise to any woman currently living in the United States, and it only mentions one area where we're lacking: no guaranteed paid maternity leave.
Not mentioned are the plenty of other issues, like the fact that many women are so distrusting of a biased court system, they're afraid to report their rapes, or that women make a measly average 77 cents to every dollar a man brings in.
And again, of course, these are just to name a few of the many social and cultural problems that our country has yet to address and remedy for its female population.
I don't know why it's a draw to our audiences that there are 10 countries that can be chosen as "THE WORST" for women. Honestly, I think the world as a whole is still pretty damn bad.
I don't want to see any more of these comparisons — and I'm going to make an effort to stop making them myself. Because until every place is a safe zone where women are actual equals whose rights and basic human dignities are protected, we've all failed.
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