Is that so?
Women have been a leading force in sanitation strikes, calling for equal treatment and job security. This particular service industry has been the focus of multiple feminist manifestos and employment goals. Women fought long and hard to gain the right to work in sanitation, and they’re continuing that effort to open up the field more. This issue is so big that Parks and Rec even made an episode about it.
Female sewer workers have repeatedly sued the DEP for unfair treatment, seeking to open up the industry and gain equal status with their male peers. Sewer work is often targeted for its biased hiring practices. Hundreds of female candidates fight for limited available positions, but most are turned away, despite having the necessary experience and skills. Feminist workers recognize that these women are willing and able to do the work, but aren’t getting the opportunity to gain employment here.
Historically, coal mining is one of the most highly targeted careers for gender bias. Women have been petitioning for the opportunity to mine safely since the Industrial Revolution. This is actually one of the primary and best studied examples of women fighting to enter traditionally male fields. Lots of women, who both succeeded in the mines and didn’t, continue to petition for increased access to this field.
And yeah, women want white collar jobs too. Go figure – A diverse population of women, with different abilities, interests and levels of education, are all fighting for the right to seek diverse forms of employment. Fighting for equality in one sphere doesn’t mean that we’ve forgotten about the others.
Just because you aren’t paying attention to the feminist movement doesn’t mean that the feminist movement is nonexistent.
Many jobs such as these (although I don’t know that this is the case for these exactly) have been denied to women based on the idea that doing a particular type of labor or being in a particular environment would be too harmful to women.
And by “too harmful to women” I of course mean “too harmful to their uterus.*”
Like, there was a case back in the… 80s, I think? where some women worked at some sort of factory or plant or something. (I’ll be honest, I don’t remember a lot of the details of this— Google, however, informs me that I was right and it was in the 80s).
Anyway, there were hazardous materials in the plant. And, using laws that were intended to protect pregnant women, the company basically realized, “hey, wait a minute, we don’t need to have any women working here and we can get away with it!” Because, see, hazardous materials like that are bad for fetus.
So the company basically told a bunch of women “you can’t work here anymore because you can have babies and it’s not safe for you.” But, you know, one thing they could do would be to get sterilized, and then they could keep working there. So women did— women who would not otherwise chosen to have been sterilized got sterilized because it was either that or lose the jobs that they desperately needed.
And then the company fired them all anyway.
Like, no joke. They even made a movie out of it.
Stuff like this gets ignored all the time. I hear the argument all the time “well women can’t be drafted…” Well, first off, let’s set aside the whole issue of the draft because that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms. But you’re acting like there aren’t any women who would want to volunteer to be in the military. There are plenty. Only lots don’t because they’re discouraged from it or aren’t allowed to serve in the role they want. Or they do join but often leave because of severe sexual harassment and even sexual assault.
Saying that women “don’t want” these jobs is ridiculous on multiple levels— but what it does do is work to affirm the idea of women as illogical, weak, and “naturally” not suited for particular jobs.
*It is important to acknowledge that being a woman =/= having a uterus. However, such associations are made and utilized in this particular discourse (i.e. people equate being a woman with having a uterus, and that gets tied up in the discourse surrounding excluding women from jobs).
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