Today I read an article about comments Alex Bilmes, editor of Esquire UK, made at a recent conference on Feminism in the Media. The comments themselves are vile, nasty, and have dangerous consequences for women – although he fails to recognize that. But what I find most frightening is the public reaction to these sexist comments. Men – and women too – seem to be celebrating him for telling the “truth” about women in the media rather than exposing him as the chauvinist that he is.
“The truth hurts – some people at least. i highly respect this guys (sic) honesty.”
“Bikini-clad models are indeed like cars. Men like to look at them and to dream about getting inside a nice one.”
“Why does this surprise anyone? This man speaks the truth. Women ARE objects in the eyes of the media and in the eyes of media consumers. Look around, women of any societal “value” are commodities. They’re waxed, spray-tanned, plucked, polished versions of the real thing. And we’ve accepted that…”
“Women perpetuate this stereotype themselves. Look at the way men are dressed for award shows as compared to the way women are dressed. they had to introduce a dress code to keep stars like J-Lo from revealing too much flesh. Any dress codes for men revealing too much flesh?”
So, not only has society “accepted” that women are sex objects, but apparently we have created this situation ourselves? Sometimes I just feel like screaming at such people: perpetuating the objectification of women has real life consequences! It is not the same as objectifying men. When was the last time you heard of a group of high school girls gang raping an unconscious male? Thinking of women as objects desensitizes us to this sort of brutality. If a woman is just like a car, she is a chattel to be owned and treated in whatever manner her owner desires.
There is nothing wrong with looking at fancy cars, pretty girls, or a piece of art. There is nothing wrong with looking. But we need to remember that people are not things – that way madness lies.
|Don’t do this.|
My hope and intention in writing this post is to help encourage young people who also get discouraged to find a cause worth fighting for — and despite the many obstacles we will have to face — stand up for what we believe in. I am incredibly inspired by these young girls who started off small but have succeeded in making powerful changes in their respective fields:
Sunday, August 26th, represented the 41st Women’s Equality Day in history. The day has been proclaimed every year since 1971 by the President of the United States to commemorate women winning the right to vote in 1920. I would love to write a blog that simply celebrates all that women have accomplished; from the success of the suffrage, to fighting for equal pay and opportunities, to rallying for the right to control what happens to our own bodies. Unfortunately, the more I think about Women’s Equality Day, the more I find fault with it.
Primarily, the title itself concerns me: Women’s Equality Day, doesn’t that assume that equality has already been achieved? The last time I checked, that certainly was not the case. I wish I could write that there is no pay discrimination in the workforce. I wish I could write that our teenage girls were immune to mass media marketing. I wish I could write that internationally, women in Afghanistan aren’t seen as objects to control, but as human beings. Instead, woman overall make only 77 cents to a man’s dollar, nearly 40% of grade nine and ten girls perceive themselves as too fat, and in 2010 there were 2,229 incidents of violence against women in Afghanistan.
Even here in Canada we continue to fight against a government that has attempted to furtively introduce (through the “back alley” if you like) legislation that would make abortion illegal again. No, unfortunately this year I did not celebrate Women’s Equality Day. But I look forward with optimism to a year that I can.