Why Women Need to Stand Together: Fighting Against Narratives that Demean the Feminine
Women rights and helping women to find a voice in society is still a very much pressing issue that both women and men are unaware of how women today are being objectified and lessened. With today's biggest hit of "Blurred Lines" I find it dismantling that there's only so much review of the song and how the narrative hurts women. The video is perhaps playful, and there's been a number of parodies, but ultimately it's not showcasing beauty, but women objectified as bodies. The lyrics are terrible as well, "domesticate you."
You may not be aware of this, but marital rape was not considered illegal in the United States, in every state, until 1993. Some people are still unaware that this is a problem, or that women should have the right to say "no." These particular situations can be more harmful and stressful to women than with strangers. We need to address the issue for both men and women. Men need to know that pressuring women regardless of contract into any sexual situation -- is wrong. If there's a problem with intimacy this needs to be discussed, if it can be breached go see a counselor together, and work from there. But never force a person into a physical act of any kind that they do not approve. The numbers are alarming of women who are keeping silent in their marriages. It is evident that women and men are not supporting each other as comrades, but are using each other. Liberating women also liberates men.
We need better narratives in our society. Men do not need to be projected as being successful or of value if they can score women, be pimps, have social decay, etc. It is not cool to live a life with no moral compass or philosophical integrity. This hurts people, including one's self. Men need more characters in literature, film, music, art that portray strong men who care about their society and are willing to be sacrificial, even if others poke fun at them. Consider your lifestyles and stop pledging to apathy. Men need to fight against apathy. Don't over consume food, be too tied to alcohol, over indulge in television, avoid porn, stop over consuming cigarettes and coffee. Some of these things are okay in small portions, but for the most part -- we are an over indulgent society. If you can drastically lessen these vices in your life, rather than let them control you, it will help you to be better men. Consider more your integrity than your sensual pleasures. We need stronger men in the world, so I invite you to be one. And you can! But you have to make the decision and stick to it and fight against whatever factors may be against you. Women need stronger men. A man who can makes us feel secure and safe in a world that's cruel is a victor... and is greatly appreciated.
As for women, we need spaces in order to share and spread out unique voices whether through art, song, dance, poetry, politics -- everything. Women need to speak against the crimes they are fighting. For their not to be law on marital rape until 1993 is a tragedy, and there's still not enough discussion on this topic. Women you are not just passive creatures, you are full forces that are capable of helping and reshaping this planet. You are intelligent, beautiful creatures -- with ultimately wondrous souls. No one has the right to harm you. We need your voices. You deserve to be awesome, so don't lessen yourself just because society is okay with a lessened version of yourself. Step up for your body's rights, which includes stepping up against the voyeuristic domination of being objectified as naked, sexual objects throughout a pantheon of media. You're more than a body; no one has the right to force your body into something it does not want to do. You are not a doll on a shelf to eventually be played with. You are a human, and exceptional at that. If you do not feel as though your voice matters in a relationship -- don't sit there passively. Get out. You matter. You matter big time.
Women have been finding themselves in the creative arts because it has been helping them to foster their voice and be able to share it. We need more of this, and we also need stronger female characters in our creative works. There's too many terrible renditions of what is a female character in television, especially entertainment geared toward adults. I bargain that young girls are receiving stronger characters to admire from their cartoons, video games, and so forth than adult women. We know not to sexualize our young girls because it's wrong, but do we know not to sexualize our adult women? Hardly. We've made adult women into jokes, and it needs to stop. The young girls are fairly unaware of what they will find in their adulthood because there is such a sharp contract in the availability of strong female characters.
This is damaging for men too. If they are such consumers of adult media that they are constantly seeing women as objects, then that's how'll they'll view us. If a show's views of women is only to see their bodies and for them to have little if any dialogue, especially significant dialogue, then it is misogynic. Learn to empathize and see how this is damaging to women rather than, "Oh, but it's just fun! You're being an over the top feminist!"
We need the over the top feminists. Otherwise... we wouldn't have any laws on rape; it would just be an accepted part of society.
If I haven't convinced you there's a problem, consider this: some of the most renowned peace makers of the world, are considered the most sleazy, misogynistic terrorists toward women. We raise these men in the views of society as though they are gods, but we blindly look away from what they have done to their family's or women, and if we're not going to point and say those aspects are wrong, then we are very clearly ignoring the crisis women are dealing with. Gandhi ignored his wife for the sake of peace, but constantly tested himself with naked women in very sex slave like situations. Martin Luther King Jr. is definitely a great advocate for civil rights, but do keep in mind that he was human and cheated on his wife. Ben Franklin may have led the United States, but he slept around with countless women spreading sexually transmitted diseases and leaving women to raise children without a father. Thomas Jefferson is no better for how many children he fathered, and the ugly racism that's attached to it. Even if these are some of the smartest and most brilliant men who have contributed great things to our society, what they have done to women is outrageous, leaving significant scars and hurts in their wake. If we act as though this doesn't matter, it will continue for your friends, your mom, your sister, your wife, your daughter, and... yourself.
Ultimately, why is this important? We as humans need to be careful about our perceptions, especially what we project onto others. Sometimes this causes stereotype threat, which this can be reductive of people as well as make them believe hurtful untruths about themselves. If we continually tell girls that they are best at learning languages and humanities and that they are poor at math and sciences, then young girls will continue to feed this lie believing they do not have a say in matters of math and science. If we continue to project that women are only good for sexual objects,we are preventing them from seeking personal growth. Women's existence is not based on who they are in a relationship with or how many children they have. We are all here to better the world, and there is no greater purpose then that.
Instead of doing a typical sexualized music video, MIA went another route to bring social awareness to Saudi Arabia. Women there are not allowed to drive and have far less rights than in most parts of the world. MIA transformed this with her team and created a video that doesn't negatively frame the country, but shows their own creativity being embraced, or rather, at last released. These are the kinds of narratives we should be building and trying to engage in; we don't need the same typical garbage repeated to us endlessly.