The Fairer Sex? How about the Tougher Sex.

After watching the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha," I thanked my lucky stars that I was born in America after the feminist movement. I can't imagine living the life of a geisha---having my livelihood chained to the fancies of men and being forced to play the role of a sexual servant. Even if the movie ends on a happy note, the main character Sayuri will never be more than "a wife of nightfall" to her beloved Chairman.

If we reduce women into glorified sex objects, then we are in effect reducing their humanity. A woman's societal worth becomes based on her beauty and sexuality rather than her personality and intelligence. Such sexism is not only manifested in Japan, it has run rampant throughout world history in the form of rape, prostitution, forced marriages, polygamy, and slavery. Women have been denied access to education, to suffrage, and to positions of power. A woman without a husband---without a man to take care of her---was pitied and even scorned. Her "worth" was inherently tied to the fertility of her womb and the ability of her cooking and cleaning skills.

Only within the past century have we witnessed the blossoming of feminine equality in our societies. Women are no longer viewed as second-class citizens. We are now given the keys to unlock their dreams; we enjoy basic unalienable liberties that for so long have been denied. Of course in many parts of the world women are still subjagated to men, but the precedent for women's equality has been set in America, in Europe, and even in third-world countries like Liberia.

In January 2006, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was sworn in as president of Liberia, making her Africa's first elected female leader.

Yet as Anna Quindlen has so insightfully remarked, oftentimes the women of my generation take for granted the equality we enjoy today. Growing up as children of the eighties, we were surrounded by (and many times raised by) working women who straddled the realms of career and family. We were taught in our homes and at our schools to dream big. The question, "So what do you want to be when you grow up?" was filled with endless and achievable possibilites.

Too often we forget that such possibilities were indeed merely dreams even fifty years ago. Names like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and even Betty Friedan ring a bell in our minds, but can we really recall what these women did for us? We owe it to ourselves to become acquainted with these women because after all, we are reaping the harvest of their hard work and dedication.

We also must not forget that the fight for equality has not ended. There are millions of women worldwide who are still unable to vote or receive an education. There are millions of women who are illiterate. The work is not finished! We need to roll up our sleeves and assume the helm that Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton once held.

Women all over the world need to hear the message that is so plainly stated in the Talmud: "The woman came out of a man’s rib: Not from his feet to be walked on. Not from his head to be superior, but from the side to be equal."