The images that some young women use for their social media profiles are very disturbing and one day when they are older, they will regret putting those pictures in the public domain for the world see. But let us be fair, these young women have been taught to use their bodies as a tool to get the attention they want.
Let’s take for example the fact that young people today listen to music almost non-stop. One very catchy and very popular song right now is “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, featuring T.I. and Pharrel Williams. Leaving aside the sexist theme of the song that has been condemned by many women’s groups as even being “rapey,” the video itself has near-naked women parading around in front of a group of men like it is completely natural to do so.
They make it look like so much fun. So young girls, toying with their budding sexuality, watch this and think to themselves they want to be as “sexy” and have as much fun as those video girls. They then post pictures of themselves on their Facebook and Twitter accounts that mimic what they see.
They send those pictures to friends on BBM, Skype and sometimes they even go so far as to put up a video of themselves on YouTube as they emulate what they see in mass media. This is when, as a society, we condemn these girls as promiscuous although they are only emulating how society has told them they should act.
Whether by television, magazines, “beauty of the week” in the newspaper, radio or social media sites, women are objectified so much that impressionable young women (and men) can see hundreds – maybe thousands – of such images every single day. They listen to the radio and go to concerts where they hear lyrics that degrade women and tell them to “give that man what he wants.”
Girls are taught that women should be on constant display for the entertainment of men. As such, this is what they do – they put themselves on display. Just how entrenched is this objectification? One company advertised a simply plaid, button-up shirt that could be worn by male or female. They had both male and female models wearing this shirt. The female model wore it completely unbuttoned exposing the middle of her body from top to bottom. The male wore it completely buttoned up.
What is the message that images like this send to our young girls? What is the message being sent to our young men? It makes it even worse that objectification of women is so entrenched that most people would not have even blinked an eye at the marked difference of this sexist advertising.
Even our comic-book superheroes demonstrate this point. The male superheroes are dressed like they are ready to defend the world against any evil that would assail it. The female superheroes–the very few there are–are typically dressed for a swimsuit contest with extremely accentuated breasts and buttocks. These female superheroes are posed in such a way that it is clear that their breasts and buttocks are more important than their ability to save the world.
Some local newspapers drive home the idea that a woman’s beauty is more important than anything else with a beauty of the week printed on the front page of every Sunday edition.
On the inside of those newspapers there have been numerous stories of violence against women. Everyone shakes their heads every time a woman is brutally raped, beaten, chopped or murdered, yet they cannot seem to draw the line between the constant objectification of women and the fact that women are seen as only an object by men to be treated however he deems fit.
She is there for his entertainment. He can say what he wants to her as she walks down the street. If she is not happy about it, he can get even more violent because society has made him believe he has a right to treat this object in any manner he wants. He can force her to have sex because she is not a person; she is an object. If he wants to kill her, that is his prerogative, because society has made him believe as much. And he will probably get away with it.
For example, a man can chop his wife and kids, like what happened this week and no one will stop for one second and think it was somehow connected to a song that parades naked women around or to the beauty of the week on front of tomorrow’s newspaper. But that chopped woman was leaving him, so he felt he had the right do what he did because she is just an object.
This is where some ignorant fool says, “But Stella, it is our culture to call to women on the street.” I would bet that those who sexually harass women as they walk on the street have either been violent to a woman or will be in his lifetime. If a man thinks he has a right to treat a woman with such disrespect and aggressiveness in public, he will do far worse in private.
I have seen that look of an animal stalking his prey too many times. Just sit in a restaurant, bar or club. Some men are so blatant that they do not even try to conceal that look. It is vile and revolting. He does not care what the law says or what the woman wants. He will do what he likes – and he does. Yet another woman is raped or beaten or murdered.
For me, there are no blurred lines at all. It is all crystal clear. For as long as society continues to objectify women, the violence against women will also continue. Sadly, women play right into this trap. They want to feel wanted and they have been given a how-to manual on what they need to do to be wanted by men. When we follow that how-to manual, Sisters, we are sentencing ourselves and our daughters to more violence and death. When will we wake up?