(Disclaimer: this post contains highly graphic and offensive images. But the message is important and the impact is in the visuals. So please proceed with caution – and an open mind.)
Our nation is in the middle of an identity crisis. On one hand, it is beautiful to see Americans banding together against injustice with open arms and love for the suffering world beyond ourselves. We protect ourselves, but we protect the least of these, too. I am proud of our country for speaking out.
But this post isn’t about racism or immigration or war on terror or education and health care reform – or all of the important issues for which our government and current administration are under fire.
It’s about women.
Let me be clear: the way Donald Trump has treated and spoken about us is not OK. Nothing I write here should make you think otherwise. NO woman deserves violence or to feel less-than because she is female.
But the plight for gender equality and the message coming out of those marches – treat us as equals. respect us. stop seeing us as sexual objects. don’t use degrading words about us – is inconsistent with and opposite to the image men receive from us.
To cry foul and march against male behavior is a temporary and fruitless endeavor if we as women don’t change the narrative we create about ourselves.
They say the proof is in the pudding, and boy is there a lot of pudding.
Miley Cyrus was a prominent figure at the women’s march this month. She said, “We don’t want to talk about change, we want to be the change.”And we allowed her to speak on behalf of us, representing us as the unified and strong women that we are.
But this is the message we are sending to men about how we view ourselves and what is acceptable to do to us: (image: http://www.nydailynews.com) 2013 MTV VMA awards in 2013.
Surely this doesn’t represent the masses of our culture though, right? This isn’t what we support, buy into, believe, look up to, follow – RIGHT?!
Enter, alllllllllllll the Kardashians:
There’s a super-ironic headline next to a barely-legal Jenner, “Why Sex Addiction Is On The Rise.” I think her photo shoot does a nice job of answering that question.
If there was ever a symbol of our current female culture, where talent, skill, and intelligence take a backseat to sex appeal, it is the rise of the socialite.
“But this is OK,” we say, because it is all in the name of free speech and she can do whatever she wants and represent herself however she wants since it is her body. Afterall, it’s just a form of artistic expression. How dare men think of her and treat her as a sex object! #FemalePower #FeminismRules #ButtSelfiesForTheWin
In the name of freedom of speech and choice and embracing your body image, we have continued to burn into the minds of men that we are weak, helpless, sexualized, less-than individuals.
Actions Speak Louder
My oldest son CAN NOT handle himself when he is overly tired. Like, straight up melt-down about everything. Yet every.single.time he will insist (amid tears and hysteria) that he is not, in fact, over-tired, and that to treat him as such is a severe injustice. He’ll fling all the words to try to convince me otherwise.
But his actions and the way he presents himself speak much louder than the very loud words he is yelling at me. He has given me no reason to see him as anything other than the thing he is fighting against.
Ladies, what reason have we given men to see women as anything but sexual, submissive creatures for their consumption?
Celebrity speeches gained much praise and attention at the women’s march. They stood with us and related to us and spoke for us. But perhaps instead of solely marching against the way Donald Trump views women, we could make a greater impact by refusing to pose in magazines like this:
and starring in movies dressed (?) like this (image: http://www.fooyoh.com):
Critics had this to say about Scarlett Johansson’s role:
The Economist wrote that “there is some aggressive sexuality in the film: women seem very vulnerable, but then men’s desires are punished.” And in the Guardian, Leo Robson wrote that Johansson’s character is “both a watcher and predator of men. In the society she enters, and to which she brings nothing besides a body, [she] is a sex object, in dress and demeanour a kind of sex toy“
It’s manipulative and hypocritical, really, to expect men to see us as anything more than weak sex symbols when this is the message they are given by women.
Madonna, Lady Gaga, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Katy Perry, Barbra Streisand, Jane Fonda, Jennifer Aniston – the list goes on and on and on…we have all played a large role in the idea that a woman’s worth and value are firmly attached to her sexual prowess. And by marching along with these celebrities, buying their products, following their careers, using them as role models, we have contributed to creating a culture in which wild depravity, including the sexualization and victimization of women, is commonplace.
And we want to blame Donald Trump for all of it.
He said you can grab us by the p***y:
Do anything you want to us:
Even if we are married:
And if you are a star, you can do anything you want to us.
Is it really any wonder men think and say these things?
I know celebrities do not represent women as a whole. And I expect better from the leader of our country; I really really do. Thankfully, Donald Trump does not represent men as a whole, either.
But celebrities do tell us and the rest of the world how our culture feels and acts toward women. They have the largest and easiest platform for change – and we have let them be our voice.
Rewriting Our Story
Women, I stand strong with you, against all that is said about us and to us, done to us and against us. But when we fight vulgarity with vulgarity, slinging men’s words back at them in hate and contempt and using the same disparaging language we are marching against, our efforts are reduced to nothing more than a temporary band-aid covering the large wound that is our self-worth.
Instead of spewing vitriol, let’s band together to actually provide a different image for men to see us. We tell men to stop looking at us like that, but let’s actually stop creating images for men to look at us like that. Let’s stop using sex when it suits us, then acting appalled for receiving the exact attention we were trying to garner. Let’s teach men to respect us – by first respecting ourselves enough to stop being sex objects. Let’s clothe ourselves with love and dignity and purity and compassion and all the things that really, truly make us strong.
Then, and only then, will men have no other choice but to consider us their equals, their counterparts.
 Puchko, Kristy (April 4, 2014). “Review: Scarlett Johansson’s Under the Skin has a special message for men”. TheMarySue.com.