By Jennifer Sheets
Imagine living each day being told aren’t smart enough, aren’t attractive enough, won’t live up to people’s expectations, and just plain aren’t good enough. Television ads tell you how to dress and how to act. Friends and coworkers make fun of your ideas and goals. Before long, these ideas become a reality and your failure and lack of self-confidence become expectations. Welcome to a woman’s world.
Before you roll your eyes and scoff at “just another feminist article,” think about it: how have you looked at women today? The average person sees 5,000 advertisements a day, many of which pose beautiful women in revealing clothing as erotic creatures inferior to, and less intelligent than, men. Most people, men and women alike, judge a woman based on her clothing, hair, makeup, sex appeal, and general ‘girly’ demeanor. Strong women are considered selfish and bitchy, reserved and intelligent women are uptight, and those who do not choose scantily clad clothing are prudes. Common language also breaks women down with such phrases as, ‘plays ball like a girl,’ ‘on the rag,’ ‘bitches,’ ‘quit being such a pussy,’ or ‘cries like a girl.’
Although women are considered inferior to men, in situations of harassment or rape the male is oftentimes considered the victim of circumstance. How many times have you heard, (or thought yourself,) “Look at her slutty outfit. She’s asking for negative attention.” Somehow we have established a cultural norm where if a woman chooses to dress “inappropriately” then men can’t be held responsible for their sexual harassment. Several years ago a woman was raped at a concert and had the courage to report it. The common response? “Just terrible…but what was she thinking walking around in a swim suit top and cut-off shorts?” What a woman decides to wear is no one’s business but her own. By using the woman’s clothing as an excuse for the rape, we are blatantly stating that the male was a victim and should not be held responsible for his actions. This sentiment is atrocious, and needs to be dealt with.
What can we do as a culture? Everyone – men and women – must partner in the struggle to shed light on the cultural harassment of women. Women should stand up for their right to be an individual, and men should stand up for the empowerment of women and stand against harassment. Reject media that represents women as objects of desire, stop using phrases that target women negatively, educate yourself and others on feminism and movements working to empower gender equality.
Get Educated! Get Involved!