By Mahima Vemuganti
Within this past week, I witnessed two of my close friends purchase Plan B. As they were checking out, I couldn’t help but glance at the price tag- $49.99 before tax. As I was accompanying my friends, I couldn’t help but think back to my friend in high school who had to gamble with potential pregnancy because she couldn’t afford Plan B. 3 weeks later, we found out she was pregnant. My friends in college were able to handle a potentially disruptive situation because they had the privilege to afford to do so, unlike my friend back in high school. Plan B is a good example of systemic injustice because not everyone has equal means to obtain it.
The issue behind Plan B is similar to the injustices individuals experienced during the Civil Rights Movement. Minority groups are placed at a disadvantage from equal opportunity. From police brutality to the sanctions behind the imprisonment of Martin Luther King Jr. as described in Letter, and the availability/affordability to Plan B, systemic injustices encompass a variety of different scenarios.
In-store Emergency Contraception Pills (ECPs) cost anywhere from $40-$60. ECP’s found online, on the other hand, cost an average of $20. The discrepancy between in-store and online ECPs indicates that there is no reason for in-store prices to be as high as they are. Despite online ECPs costing lower than their in-store counterpart, they are less desirable as individuals run the risk of them not being delivered on time. Not to mention, it’s harder to keep the delivery inconspicuous, especially for minors.
Another issue we run into with ECPs is their availability. A 2018 study by the American Society for Emergency Contraception (ASEC) found that only 60% of drug stores carry ECPs. Of the ones that do carry them, 57% lock ECPs in a box, forcing the individual to seek out an employee for assistance.
With its high cost and minimal supply at available drugstores, teens and individuals from low-income communities are placed at a greater disadvantage and run a higher risk of accidental pregnancy. While there are many other factors contributing to higher pregnancy rates within minority and low-income communities, the high cost of Plan B adds fuel to the fire. With a statistical correlation between teen pregnancy and poverty, the punishing price of Plan B further perpetuates this inequality.
By Amanda Nall
A few weeks ago I was sitting in hot tub in Hocking Hills with some women who I did not know very well. The conversation was fun and light until someone began to bring up weight and body size. The comment was made: “I think 200 pounds is the cut off to how much I want to weigh.” Another comment, “you were so skinny, you looked like a twig when you were pregnant.” To hear these comments is painful and my reaction was dramatic. I had to leave and was not confident in speaking how I really felt. I think that these types of conversations are very degrading and create a negative, self-shaming environment. Idealizing body types, not accepting ones body, and encouraging poor eating habits all contribute to diet culture which ultimately silences the people which do not fit the “perfect” size. The outcast group is led to feel guilty about themselves or about what they eat, also the group is encouraged to talk negatively about one self. There is some sort of superior group which would have a very small range of body sizes and has traits that probably would not even be found on just one person. The book Beyond Beautiful as seen in the photo below tries to fight against diet culture and body shaming. It is a great resource for people, especially women, to read if they are having doubts about the health of their body image. The book includes activities that encourage readers to really analyze what events or information constructed their beliefs about body image and specifically about what the ideal body type is.
Through idealizing body types, all sort of outlets like newspapers, blogs, magazines, and advertisements have begun to sell a product that guarantees a different body than the one the consumer currently has. This Dr. Oz advertisement is a perfect example of how key phrasing and marketing ploys are used to convince a buyer that the product will change a serious part of their life. The truth is that most of our looks are determined by genetics and that burning fat is not the only thing that contributes to weight loss. Part of having a healthy body image is being willing to accept where ever ones body is and also recognizing that it could be slightly different based on lifestyle changes.
Females in the Army
By Jake Fortney
The topic I want to discuss this week is something I heard during my Army Physical Training test this week. I am in Army ROTC and this week we took our PT test on Thursday. Our PT test includes 2 minutes of push-ups, 2 minutes of sit-ups, and a 2-mile run. That day one of our cadets responded to a female cadet commenting on how well she did on the push-ups portion of the PT test. For reference, the female max score is 42 and it is 71 for males. She apparently did 41 push-ups which is one away from maxing and a male cadet said “that isn’t even enough to pass for us. I can’t wait until the new PT test comes out so all of these girls can get kicked out.” He was referring to the new “ACFT.” This test will have no “handicaps” for the females (males and females minimums and maximums will be equal). I think this perpetuates the idea that women are inferior to men in terms of physical fitness. I think this is a big problem in the Army. Treating women as physically inferior can lead to getting a general sense of women as being inferior. I’ve seen this lead to a situation of the One and the Other for the Army. Women are already outnumbered significantly by the men. I think allowing this sort of discourse only furthers the wedge between males and females in the Army.
I think I explained the situation pretty well the first time around so I left it in as well. To better understand what I meant by ACFT I have attached this article: https://www.army.mil/acft/. You can click on different things to view different parts of the test. Long story short: the current test allows different standards for gender and age. With the new test, there are no “handicaps” for gender or age. I think overall this is an attempt to equalize the PT test across the entire Army. I do think it is fair for everyone however, I don’t think the organization should be allowing this sort of discourse, as I mentioned above, to be happening. Since my last post the person in question was actually punished for what he said. I think the Army does a good job creating a good atmosphere for everyone these days, and I hope it continues!
New ACFT Events
My Diary of Systemic Injustices entry that I would like to showcase is about the recent changes to gender specific programs benefiting women at The Ohio State University. The University recently made eight of the nine gender exclusive programs open to all students. This came after a complaint filed by Mark Perry of the University of Michigan with the Cleveland Office of Civil Rights. Perry claimed that these programs were in violation of Title IX, which prohibits discrimination by educational institutions based on sex.
In my original entry, I focused on that fact that these programs denied males impactful educational opportunities strictly due to their sex. Some examples of these programs are the Summer Engineering Camp for Middle School Girls, and the Critical Difference Development Grants. Not only are males excluded from these opportunities, but the existence of these programs imply that women need extra help to succeed in that same areas where males are expected to succeed without the additional assistance.
For this showcase, I would like to elaborate on the language of Title IX, specifically regarding the exceptions made in the law. Title IX does not apply to gender discriminatory programs that offer “remedial or affirmative action,” or whose purpose is “to overcome the effects of conditions which resulted in limited participation therein by persons of a particular sex.” Critics of OSU’s decision to change these programs in response to Perry’s complaint argue that this language makes these programs legal. I believe this to be the case and find this a fascinating example of how sometimes providing programs exclusively to one gender can be a solution to systemic injustice, not the cause. Many of my other entries were about systemic injustices against women, and these programs were possibly the most direct effort to end these systemic injustices of all the examples I used.
I think this draws a strong parallel with our reading of MLK Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. MLK Jr. argues that slow change and progress is not adequate, and that oppressed people must fight and make their voices heard in order to effect real change. I think that these programs do exactly this, recognizing that women have repeatedly undervalued and underrepresented within our institutions, and take action to make sure that is not the case in the future. Below I have linked two articles regarding the complaint, the complaint itself, and Title IX.
The Lantern Article
College Fix Article
By Dena Hussain
One type of systemic injustice involves occupation and the pay gap between men and women. It is an empirical fact that men make more money than women for the same jobs, but there are varying reasons for this gap. Some people say that it is women who choose to work is lower-paying/skilled jobs, or choose lower-paying specializations, or it is that women who make up the majority of a job are paid less because they are women (this is outright discrimination). However, the differing choices in type of occupation by women cannot alone explain the gender pay gap; for women who are making advances in, say, a company, they often reach a level that they cannot get past – this concept is known as the “Glass Ceiling”. We usually see the Glass Ceiling in setting where a woman makes it to some sort of managerial position, and when she tries to make it to the next position beyond that, there is something systemic in her way that prevents this from happening; this can be societal and in how women are raised. Oftentimes, women who make it to the top were taught at a young age to “act like a man” – in taking risks, creating beneficial alliances that will help progress one to the next level, choose advanced occupations and/or specializations, etc. Furthermore, when looking at professions that are mainly dominated by women, it can be seen empirically that wages in these jobs are decreasing; this is systematic because originally, these jobs were higher-paid when they were occupied mainly by men – this includes real estate, lawyers, etc. So, the wage gap between gender cannot solely be explained by the fact that some women just simply choose lower-paying and less-skilled occupations and specialties because when looking at women who are not in these positions, or try to climb up the company ladder, they are paid less or prevented from advancements. In conclusion, when looking at any injustice, it is important to keep in mind a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. ; “an injustice to one is an injustice to all”.
Joyce J Chen, Daniel Crown, The Gender Pay Gap in Academia: Evidence from the Ohio State University, American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Volume 101, Issue 5, October 2019, Pages 1337–1352, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajae/aaz017
By Sarah Goulder
Although we have made great strides in creating a more inclusive and progressive world, there is still much work to be done to limit (and hopefully one day eliminate) sexism, homophobia, and overall hate. The ways in which these injustices manifest today is much more subtle than it once was. For instance, the kind of inequality that Simone de Beauvoir references in The Second Sex is much more obvious and severe than what is seen today. However, her ideas on othering and its consequences still apply to sexism and other areas of prejudice. Currently, the things we say, how we act on social media, and what we see on television and film all contribute to the persistence of systemic injustice in the modern world. Specifically, I would like to focus on sexist and homophobic discourse in everyday life and in american media, as both of these areas contribute significantly to the perpetuation of discrimination and bias.
A recent encounter with a terribly unoriginal and sexist joke sparked my interest in writing about this topic. A friend of mine recently said a version of the “make me a sandwich” joke about another woman. My blood started to boil, but I remained silent and let it go because I knew that my friend was not an actual misogynist. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have. That type of “joke” is an example of why sexism and gender discrimination still exist. Casual comments rooted in prejudice (whether it’s sexism, racism, or homophobia) are indicative of a much larger issue how we reinforce everyday bias and discrimination. Here is a link to a blog site that does a good job of explaining why this particular joke is problematic. Going beyond sexism, the way we speak (and where we do it) have real world consequences that many people would rather not acknowledge. This article discusses a few recent(-ish) examples of celebrities and comedians, like Stephen Colbert that have engaged in “casual homophobia” by using anti-gay tropes and language. Despite our intentions, casual prejudicial discourse prevents us from moving forward culturally and makes it difficult to create political and legal changes to unfair policies.