Happy 4th of July! A day to celebrate our country’s Declaration of Independence. And, what exactly is independence? It seems very clear in reading history that the 13 colonies were asking for their own voice. “No taxation without representation” and when that wasn’t answered we declared war in order to have independence. Since this is what our country was built on, I believe that should be a clear definition of Independence. Whenever we discuss an independent person, we should be working with the operational definition that we’re all talking about someone who is using their voice, holding their own opinion and having it heard and included.
Yet, our music, television and movies seem unable (or maybe unwilling) to use that definition for women. Our pop culture is flooded with the idea that women are independent, not when they offer their opinions, but when they don’t ask for money. I call this superficial feminism. I see it nonstop—over and over again there are songs that praise the “independent woman” and then defines that as, she buys her own things. We have been rewarding this superficial feminism, pretending that it is a shift, that we’re encouraging young women toward independence in ways that older generations weren’t empowered.
Well, it seems to me that this false definition of independence is limiting and that it feels very much like a fresh painted version of an old female archetype. Of all the media archetypes of women that exist, the one I hate the most is “The Gold Digger”. Yes, because it is really degrading for men to always assume of us that we’re hunting them for their cash. But also, because it sets women up. If you must buy your way to independence, we are way behind the eight ball. First consider the gender wage gap, the pink tax, the female rate of student loan debt, and other things that mean our money situations will always be less than and thus our independence in jeopardy. Also consider, the rates of poverty among women, the pay rate for jobs typically known as female jobs, the number of female head of households, etc. and you see just how impossible a road the independent woman who pays her own way to keep up with a man has to travel.
It is not having your own money that should make you independent, but rather that you have voice. And, that voice should be given meaning in the conversation, just because you’re part of the society. Women 50% of the population, yet our meaningful voice continues to be stripped from us. I can’t even put in words the feeling I have when I see a picture of a room full of men, without any women, writing a national health care bill. Or, when I’m reminded that Congress is less than 20% female. 32 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Never a female President; never a female Chief of Staff.
Hey America, No Taxation without Representation. Evermore, we need to increase women in these roles. #SheShouldRun.