How “Casablanca” led to the “Glass Ceiling” (and if or when it’ll be broken)

From Laura Frazer @Salon.com (Under the Veils of Casablanca)

If you ask a movie nerd about Casablanca, he’ll probably talk your ear of about Rick, Ilsa, and Louis not being able to escape their past.  But if you approach Laura Fraser, a freelance writer for Salon.com, her account will most likely consist of her experiences with a city and culture where the public world belongs to men, but the private one belongs to women, like she wrote in Under the Veils of Casablanca.   Most of us are unable to remove our ethnocentric views that women feel so oppressed in the Muslim world.  Fraser hints as how, even though there’s truth to that view, it doesn’t mean that they are complacent with that idea.  If there’s one thing women all over the world have in common, it’s dealing with the double standard of being viewed negatively when one is ambitious.

Renowned sociologist, Christine Williams writes “In patriarchal societies, there exists a “glass ceiling” that prevents females from progressing to the same level as their male counterparts.  Some consent to this limitation, while others aim to break through it.  Those that choose the latter now need to come to terms with the fact that if they do want to climb that corporate ladder, they’ll be perceived as aggressive or ambitious, which is viewed negatively with women as opposed to men.  If they are willing to continue the climb, they own that façade of ambitiousness, whether it is in their nature or not.  Women such as Theresa May, Angela Merkel and Dilma Rousseff may have more nurturing sides, but it is reserved for only their family and closest friends.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, women deal with a global issue that especially plagues middle to lower class families:  violence against women.

According to the Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, nations in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Arab states were shown to have the highest gender inequality, which is one of the main reasons United Nations General Assembly created the aforementioned organization.  Their goal is to identify, address and remedy and prevent issues stemming from this problem.  Much of their meetings during the Fourth World Conference in Beijing focused on violence against women and implementing good practices in combating and eliminating it.  One such issue is honor killings, where the woman is blamed for her own rape and executed as a result.  Although this is only prevalent in most third world countries in South and Southeast Asia, other issues such domestic violence, sexual abuse and human trafficking still exist in more “developed” nations.

It is through these organizations, as well as independent journalists such as Laura Fraser, that we become more informed about the different attitudes and beliefs that women have all around the world, but also bring up the commonalities that they share.  It saddens me that much of what they share is negative, harsh and violent.  Perhaps one day, women’s issues won’t be as unsettling as it is today.  I just know it won’t be tomorrow, but someday.

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