WOMEN IN AMERICAN POPULAR CULTURE: Fostering Political and Social Engineering
OGUNYEMI, CHRISTOPHER BABATUNDE
DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH
JOSEPH AYO BABALOLA UNIVERSITY
Culture is an explication that is significant to human life because it deals with ‘a way of life’ as anthropologists have attempted to define the concept. The idea has been used predominantly by contemporary practitioners such as the historians, anthropologists, literary critics and sociologists who combine cultural artifacts to their academic expertise. Cultural study is consistent with remarkable general increase over the past two decades in the common everyday use of the term by disciplines in the humanities and social sciences fostering the interdisciplinary approach, the field of cultural studies emphasize the need for the emergence of popular culture in America and in the world at large.
Popular Culture and the American Society
Popular culture in the American society encapsulates a remarkable increase in sensitive demonstrations of issues such as gender, behavior, ethnicity, race, human rights and citizenship. However, social change in the United States and other western societies that have increased sensitivity to cultural identifications generally have also modified the way anthropologists have formulated the idea of culture. Many ideas have influenced the growth of popular culture in the United States of America. They are: the rise of philosophies, new world order, global warming, globalization and intellectual debates on feminism. From early 18th century, education became the bedrock of development and a general phenomenon in America, many people study to get approved and a practical enlightenment became the order of the day. For the American woman, early 20th century ushered in a great revolution and awareness which leads to the contemporary participation of women in all aspects of life.
Women in American Cosmology
The emergence of American women in overt cultural dispensation started around 1600 when individual women demanded for the right to vote. Consequently, their demands skyrocketed women participation in social activities, independence in thoughts and in action. However, an organized movement on behalf of women suffrage, led by women but open to men, first emerged in the United States in 1848. Women suffrage often met hostility and sometimes violence. In 1893, New Zealand became the first country to grant woman the right to vote in national elections. From 1918 to 1920, Canadian and the United States women were enfranchised to vote: Mexico, sharing with much of Latin America- a Spanish and Roman Catholic heritage that discouraged enfranchisement of women did not grant woman the right to vote until much later. Besides the fact that American women were the first in the world to demand for an organized agitation to vote, Margaret Brent, the owner of extensive lands in Maryland was the first woman in North American colonies who voiced a mechanical demand for the right to vote. This later generated the rights of the American women to participate in active politics in America. Politics is an integral aspect of popular culture that stipulates the role of governance and social engineering.
In America, women have been entrusted and integrated in sensitization programs in order to enhance cultural stability; consequently the mission of the Women and Culture of Peace program is threefold: supporting woman’s initiatives for peace; fostering the participation of woman in the democratic process at decision making level. To further substantiate this, let us re-examine the roles played by the Organization of American Society (OAS) which have streamlined the American woman in cultural interplay and social excellence. OAS has contributed significantly to the instrument of growth which American woman now use as tool all over the world with the safeguard of human rights by the passage of the convention on the Nationality of Women (1933), the Inter- American Convention on the Granting of Political Rights to Women (1948), Inter American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (1994) among others.
In the labor market, American women have contributed tremendously to cultural development which lends credence to the growth of the American economy as a result of active participation. In Canada and the United States woman’s participation in remunerated work in the formal and non- formal labor market has increased significantly and has changed during the past decade. While women continue to work in agriculture and fisheries, they have also become increasingly involved in micro, small and medium sized enterprises and, in some cases, have become more dominant in the expanding informal sector. Insufficient attention to gender analysis meant that women’s contributions and concerns remain too often ignored in economic structures; most American women have advanced economic independence despite low wages, lack of adequate employment. Two women have appeared on the new American map: they are Michelle Obama and Hilary Clinton Michelle the current American first lady is dynamic in her supportive role to her husband in making all sectors of the American economy vibrant. This can be seen in her positive contribution to the White House’s strategic policies with regards social justice and the family. Hilary is promoting the Obama government in these areas using her experience as former first lady and former presidential aspirant in America.
To fully explore American popular culture, it is worth to mention literature, music, entertainment, sports, science and technology as areas American women have contributed to in early and current popular culture. Many women have explored these exploitations to the fullest regardless of time and space, color and race. Women in America would make more contribution to the popular culture if allowed full access to savings credit mechanisms and institutions, if practical gender balance is achieved and finally if legislation fully protects their economic resources. It is noticeable that in America to forestall equality in cultural disposition, the participation of women in all sectors should be taken seriously because this would magnify success and excellence with little or no resistance to growth for American Popular Culture.
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Christopher Babatunde Ogunyemi is an Assistant Professor of English at Joseph Ayo Babalola University in Nigeria