Monday, December 13, 2010

A Woman is More Than the Sum of Her Parts

Disclaimer: This is one for those men who don't understand what could possibly be wrong with public sexualization of female bodies and for those women who are quietly simmering about not being appreciated for their brains instead of their cleavage.

“A person is sexually objectified when her sexual parts or sexual functions are separated out from the rest of her personality and reduced to the status of mere instruments or else regarded as if they were capable of representing her."
(Sandra Lee Bartky in Femininity and Domination)

We live in a sexist society that is teaching women to please, to hide their "deficiencies" and to control their bodies to look good. The same system is also raising men to be tough, strong and not show emotions. In short: we might be born man, woman or intersex, but not feminine or masculine. The fact that men are taught to bond over the objectification of women, while women are taught to bond over talk about cosmetics, men and clothes, are in fact social constructs and not some manifestation of our true natures.

Some claim that it is a woman's choice to decide whether or not she wants to look pretty/sexy or not. It isn't. When you are raised up surrounded by images that are constantly telling you THIS is how you should look and behave, when people's behavior towards you is more centered on appreciating your dress, make-up or the loss of a few pounds rather than on your opinion, then you start to behave accordingly in direct relation to the way people treat you. This is not a choice you make; largely because you're not really aware of it.

Of course I don't claim that people are behaving like this on purpose. Hopefully they are not. They are doing it without realizing it, simply repeating the same old patterns. Nevertheless, the effect is to make women feel small, less important and less capable. And it is this feeling that also makes them act this way.

When someone is talking to you and keeps staring at your breasts, you are taught to take it as a compliment, when in fact it is humiliating. It reduces your personality down to a nice piece of ass. But women are also taught to bear violence silently and many of them do. Those who don't are usually considered to be either “bitter little bitches that didn't get any” or “having one of those days”.

So if “looking hot” is the rare form of approval women do get, then no wonder it is the behavior they adopt. If you get a cookie every time you perform a task, guess what happens after a while? Then again, some women say they don't make the effort of “looking hot” for men, but for themselves. Isn't it bad enough that they need to do all of those things just to feel good about themselves?

I know many wonderful, intelligent women who think they are not good enough, pretty enough or clever enough. While you might think those are individual problems one can easily disregard, they are not. All those great women out there are being emotionally tortured without understanding why, while simultaneously thinking this is the way it should be.

But what about all of those women who DO make it, despite living in the same society? Aren't they proof that everyone can make it, if only they try hard enough? Actually, they are merely an excellent illustration of the exception that proves the rule. So if we want real equality, we have to start treating women with respect.

I understand this is not the system you or I have chosen or consciously created. But after realizing how blatantly unfair it is, it IS your choice whether you are going to help sustain it or not. For, as quite eloquently stated in one of my favorite movies:"It is not who invented the gun, but who pulls the trigger."


fairy said...

this sums it up nicely:


Cherry said...

LOL! Brilliant!

hassaan said...

Can't agree more :)
Media is to blame ... it constantly provokes this obscured image of men and women right from the teenage ... no wonder our social expectations and relations are destroyed in everyday life.