Blah Blah Blah…BLAH!
That’s what everything said about women, today, sounds like to people.
Every time there is a discussion/conversation/talk that involves any of the following words: Feminism, sexism, gender equality, or women objectification, we can assume that there will be some Blah Blah! but how do you think that comes across in Media? Global media, precisely?
If I were to focus on one trend today in Global Media, it would be that of Sexism. Now before you make any arbitrary comments/judgements, just keep reading and you will understand why I have to take you through this before getting to the actual point of this post.
Global Media has failed women in the last couple of years and the feminine gender has clearly been “objectified” in Music videos, Political speeches, and even in news articles.
A politician has called his blonde colleague an “abortion barbie” for campaigning for a woman’s right to choose in 2013; a magazine editor has described women in his pages as “ornamental” and a commentator started a sentence by claiming: “I’m not saying she deserved to be raped, but…” in the U.S., according to a Guardian post on the women’s blog section.
This trend has even affected the political image of women. In 2014, Hillary Clinton’s presidential run illustration on the cover of TIME magazine created a “loud” controversy among people and illustrated a clear example of women’s objectification in Media. The cover featured a picture of a woman’s leg in a pantsuit with a miniature man hanging from the tip of her high heel with the headlines “Can anyone stop Hillary?” and a tagline “How to scare off your rivals without actually running yet?”
This clearly depicts the concept of portraying powerful, ambitious, confident women in a negative light as threatening and unlikable, or at least, that’s what it looks like to me.
What is the reason behind this new wave of sexism in Media? Is there anything being done about it? How is it really affecting women‘s participation in different sectors of the global society, in the Arab World vs. Western World?
This is a link to a Ted talk about objectifying women in the media and the way this concept has been affecting women’s lives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMS4VJKekW8
I have had various long discussions with my colleagues about the idea of objectifying women in Media and the way the idea of Feminism is being used to stand against these practices. I keep going back to this subject because, I think, it is playing a big role in defining women’s practices in the society—and even in limiting their self-esteem.
I thought this particular Ted Talk clearly illustrated the concept of devaluating women and considering them as mere “sex” objects. What was even more interesting about this video, however, is raising peoples’ awareness about the subject and changing their attitudes by offering them a set of behavioral norms to act upon.
Feminism and women’s objectification are two topics that have long been focused on in different discussions and on different occasions, the problem is, however, the representation of the phenomena.
As a young woman who belongs to a generation known as “The Millennial,” it is chocking to know that people from my generation associate themselves with concepts of such “devaluating” nature. Allow me to further explain, and expand on this idea.
The issue of women’s rights first became prominent during the French and American Revolutions in the late 18th century. This concept emerged at that specific time to change a societal structure and norm that limited the roles of both men and women and assigned them two different spheres of action.
Thus, the issues dealt with, under the umbrella of Feminism at the time, were focused on gender interactions in specific spheres such as suffrage and property rights.
A “second wave” of feminism arose in the 1960′s with an emphasis on unity and sisterhood. The main gain of this movement was the establishment of legal rights for women facing marital rape laws or struggling with rape crisis and divorce cases. This continued until the 1980′s, the time, some historians argue, that signaled the end of this movement –if I may call it so– at least in America.
Nowadays, Feminism is witnessing many changes in terms of the ideas included in the ideology, but the vision is still the same: Isn’t weird to picture women as victims the whole time? to deal with the different societal/legal/educational issues in a way that victimizes women? Isn’t a bit irritating to keep voicing our concerns in a way that pictures men’s actions/behaviors as the ideal to reach?
Why is it always that “women should have” the right to do something? “women” should have “the right” to practice a specific activity? “Women should be part” of a specific plan/vision?
Why do we voice these concerns in a way that devaluates women in the first place?
We keep implying that men are the ones who set the standards and women have to live up to these standards. We keep implying that women should “be allowed” to do the exact same things men have the right to do.
Why do we look at the feminine gender as an inferior class that should be elevated to the masculine stand? Why do we draw that line of comparison and difference between men and women –implying men’s superiority–?
Personally, I believe that depicting the idea of Feminism- with a capital F- as such should be the main concern here, as it certainly limits the way a feminine figure can/should define herself. I can certainly be better than men in certain areas, and I certainly have some defined skills and capabilities that men could never have.
Thus, on this basis, and from now on, I believe in fighting for equal chances of acquiring opportunities.
I believe in fighting for providing Humans with equal opportunities, and only classifying them based on their personal and professional capabilities, skills, competencies, and potential. And I believe this is exactly what feminism is/should be about.
I believe Feminism-again, with a capital F- is one of the most confusing, manipulated concepts—just like religion, and politics. Most people use it to serve their own agenda based on their own inner personal intentions and benefits, to reach their own selfish preset goals.
Thus, it is so important to distinguish between feminism-here with a lower case f, because it shouldn’t be that loud- and Professional Feminists, those who have the loudest heard voices, and those who seem to be leading the movement, only because they happen to be the visible figures.
Just as Roxane Gay said in her book “Bad Feminist,” only because she said it best:
“Feminism, as of late, has suffered from a certain guilt by association because we conflate feminism with women who advocate feminism as part of their personal brand. When these figure-heads say what we want to hear, we put them up on the Feminist Pedestal, and when they do something we don’t like, we knock them right off and then say there’s something wrong with feminism because our feminist leaders have failed us. We forget the difference between feminism and Professional Feminists.” (Bad Feminist, 2014, p 5)