The Juliet Syndrome | Teen Ink

The Juliet Syndrome

April 1, 2011
By MadelynE. GOLD, Arlington, Texas
MadelynE. GOLD, Arlington, Texas
17 articles 0 photos 19 comments

To put it briefly, even if the female gender has made great strides in reducing sexism in the United States, feminists reveal a dramatically dynamic problem. In a place where dumb blonde jokes and terms like “drama queen” present the United States’ commonplace dialect, one wonders if women enjoy this kind of environment or if it burdens them. When men harass women and girls, questions arise, such as whether dress and manner provoke males to abuse females. However, with the number of unhappy women growing, changing the ways of society turns into a necessity instead of an option. Although women have adjusted to their misogynistic culture, sexist behavior raises many concerns for women.

Despite the fact that the number of females dominate males in the classroom, people in society continue to abuse women physically. For example, “17.7 million American women [got raped],” and sex offenders in the community rape and assault girls ages sixteen through nineteen four times more than the general public (“Who”). Society today has a poor image of women. This outlook gets handed down generation to generation until women themselves believe they do not matter. Besides, victims of rape or sexual assault abuse alcohol thirteen times more, abuse drugs twenty-six times more, suffer from post-traumatic stress six times more, suffer depression three times more, and contemplate suicide four times more (“Who”). All these set-backs lead to females withdrawing from society and the lives they once had. This leaves men to control the community. Moreover, “[Mary Pipher’s client] also noticed that [violence victimizes women]. Lots of plots have to do with [men raping, beating, chasing, and terrorizing women]” (Pipher 42). Television sets the theme in the U.S. that women exist to be abused. On the other hand, many women take on the doormat role and sometimes let this happen only to act confused when stepped on. To sum up, people abuse women sexually and physically.

With this in mind, though women suffer physical abuse, they also lack respect in society. For instance, “and [Paul did] not permit a woman to teach or to have any authority over a man, but the [deceived] woman, fell into transgression” (The Holy Bible, 1 Tim. 2. 12-14). Women see the inspirational Paul telling women to keep in silence in the presence of men. Christianity, a religion based on equality under God, discriminates against women. Likewise, “as Tillie Olson observes, the [government leaves no room for women’s voices], and the silencing continues in the present” (Pipher 41). Even today, society frowns upon women who never get married or have children. Furthermore, “if [Mary Pipher] asks [her clients] who writes the material they say men. “If [she] asks who most likely takes the role of principal, they say men. If [she] asks who has more power, they say men” (41). Teenage girls tell their psychiatrist what they see happening in their schools, which are supposed to be non-biased, with their own eyes. This effect obviously hurts them in their most fragile stage. Also, “on the screen [girls] see women mainly depicted as half-clad and half-witted, often awaiting rescue by half-thinking, fully clothed men” (42). Television depicts women to young developing girls as mindless and unable to help themselves. If society shows this to girls now, they will later chase after that unreal image. Moving on, in the book Pretty Little Liars, “Aria dates her teacher. Spencer made out with her sister’s ex-boyfriend. . . . All the girls had a hand in starting an explosion that blinded their schoolmate, Jenna” (“Themes”). This shows girls in a way that makes them look like they go around trying to cause trouble. Notice how they never have these plots in books aimed towards boys. Finally, the environment women live in goes out of its way to give women injustice and a bad reputation.

For the reason that all women like to feel beautiful, beauty does not equal worth. To illustrate, “o, Juliet doth teaches the torches to burn bright!/ It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night/ Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear;/ Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!/ . . . . Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!/ For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night./” (Shakespeare I.6.45-54). In the classic play Romeo and Juliet, Romeo falls in love with Juliet only because of her beauty. One wonders what kind of relationship between Romeo and Juliet might have arisen if Juliet weighed two hundred pounds and looked unattractive. Next, “in 2007, when women attended college and grad school at record numbers, when [the U.S. House of Representatives elects] the first female speaker of the House (U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi), and when women had unprecedented access to almost all professional fields, why did [women] still [play] dress up for money?” The Miss America pageant forces women to dress up in gowns and bathing suits like Barbie in order to win the prize money and false honor. By doing this, women lower their reputation in society. Indeed, “women still spend millions on make-up, hair care, and lotions and potions claiming to do everything from eliminate wrinkles to get rid of cellulite to plump breasts and lips. Women still make up the most of the plastic surgeries performed each year. Women still account for the vast majority of eating disorders Women [still tally as] the primary funders of the diet industry” (Filipovic) and “many of the girls [Mary Pipher teaches] at the university can remember some of their choices-- to [act] quiet in class rather than risk being called a brain, the choices to diet rather than eat when hungry, the choice to [behave politely] rather than honest, or to [conduct themselves as] pretty rather than have fun” (Pipher 40). Beauty causes women to hide their true demeanors. This also pulls women out of society leaving men to dominate. Just as well, “beauty [reign as] one of the most valued characteristics a woman can [possess]. . . . Women [present themselves as] objects to look at and vessels of reproduction, women will try to use the emphasis on their own bodies to their own benefit?” (Filipovic). Since the days of Chinese foot binding to the present, beauty equals worth for many women. Life for women consists of a competition to see who possesses the most beauty. In addition, “[a client] also noticed that on television if a woman [presents herself as] a doctor or scholar, she looks like a Playboy bunny” (Pipher 42). The media connects beauty to success. Obviously, they do not think that unattractive women can reach that level. At last, culture undermines women by presenting that they exist for one reason only: to look beautiful.

Although women have conformed to their misogynistic culture, sexist actions raise many burdens for women. On the other hand, as much as men abuse women, women abuse themselves. When women and girls warp their minds into giving them bad self images, they open themselves up to eating disorders, depression, and letting other people use and abuse them. Even though females out number males in the upper level classrooms and have risen to well accomplished positions, such as Hilary Clinton and Sonia Sotomayor, girls act dramatically and stupidly despite their true intelligent selves. Ultimately, if nothing happens to change the sexist situations for women, whether forced upon them or accepted by them, women will recede back to their position in the ancient days as chattel and child bearers, desperate for change.

The author's comments:
The root of sexism is buried deep within women and has been there for quite some time. Like racism, it is an idea that has been planted since childhood causing women to receive abuse and self-esteem issues. The only way to stop this is to teach girls now to stand for justice.

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