The second photo I took was of a voter registration booth outside of the University Memorial Center. The structural functionalist perspective best fits how I will describe the sociological environment of this photograph. I chose the topic of gender and sexuality when describing the photograph because after taking this class, the stratification of women has become vastly evident to me. I also focused on the theme of privilege, which is the concept of one party enjoys greater opportunities than other parties, owning in part to lingering prejudice (Guinier and Torres 2002). This booth is set up to inspire young people to get out there and vote. It gathers voters so that our democratic government will function, and so that a large pool of voters ensures diversity. However, the pool of candidates up for election is anything but varied. White men. That’s what we get. Most make over a million dollars each year, doing their various political jobs, hoping for the chance to get called up to the most prestigious office in our country. There are many ironies in this picture. For one, there are only women in this picture. Two women pursuing you to register, and one who is signing up to evoke her right to vote. The candidates that they can choose from are all men, mostly white. These newly registered voters are also likely to be poor or have a lot of student debt from increasing tuition costs. Meanwhile, the candidates they vote for are millionaires, using the hopes of the working class and the poor to boost themselves into office. Education is also one of the lowest priorities when it comes to most political campaigns.
That being said, it is important that women continue to vote and get involved in politics. It is the system we have now that keeps people oppressed. Women are in the out-group in government. The in-group consists of mainly white men. Because they are the out-group, women and minorities are often depicted as the antagonists, and stigmatized (Newman 2011) This also fits the definition of institutional sexism, but to a larger extent (Newman 2011). Women are often portrayed as subordinate to men, even in the world of politics. They often have to carry qualities of “a good woman” which includes wifely duties, possibly being a mother, and dressing fashionably. Many times these ideas with what the woman politician actually is, or what female voters want to see in a political candidate. The privilege line, when it comes to men, looks very different. If one is a white man of good education and a moderately high income, the chances of running in and winning a political election are high. The real-world example of this is the governor Mitt Romney, who hails from Massachusetts and is the very wealthy presumed republican candidate. Men are faced with more opportunities than women, which is reflected in all the political branches of government. Women make up 50% of the population, but always seem to be the minority. This privilege is also not exclusive to politics. Messner and Bozada-Deas (2009) describe how gender roles are universal across many institutions of daily life. Gender regimes are common throughout religious institutions, education, and home-life. Messner and Bozada-Deas saw this when observing women’s reluctance to take on head coaching positions and often take up team mom positions instead. The result of this privilege is the creation of a hierarchy. This hierarchy in government is efficient, don’t get me wrong. It is however, disproportionate and unfair in terms of population and gender. As Chimamanda Adichie (2009) would say, it is the danger of a single story, the representation of men in politics. Women are cast as one dimensional, but they are assuredly not.
The girls in the photo may not be aware of this, but the privilege of males over females will follow them wherever they go. Professor Smith (2012) pointed out the normal occurrence of pay difference between men and women in lecture. Women to this very day get paid less than men. Women earn about 75 cents per dollar than a man makes. In other ways privilege presents itself. Williams (1995) presented that even men who work in female populated jobs are more likely to be presented with authoritative roles, places of power, and promotions. It is highly obvious that men are overprivileged when they are constantly confronted and offered positions of power over women, as it is their “natural” instinct to control people.
The structural system that has been intact is good at keeping people in their place, while maintaining the illusion that all is well and fair. This is the function of sexism in the United States, a good old boys club since 1776.