Femminista #2 The Forced Exhibitionist Edition
How You’re a Living Mannequin
Editors – Cleo, Israel, Ronny, Juan Issue No. 2
Table of Contents
Woman of the Week Ronny
Non-Sexist Parenting Juan, Cleo
Living Mannequins Cleo, Jennifer
Woman of the Week: Margaret Cho
Margaret Cho, a comedian and co-host of E!’s “Fashion Police,” recently charged that the US is very ageist and “body shaming is…a fascism against women’s bodies” in a February 12, 2016, interview with Bill Maher, the host of Real Time.
Cho was born on December 5, 1968, and raised in San Francisco, California. Cho is no stranger to body shaming as she said she was “raped continuously through my teenage years”, and that when she told someone else about it and her classmates found out, she received hostile remarks justifying it, including accusations of being “so ugly and fat” that only a crazy person would have sex with her.
She later added “body shaming is — I think it’s a fascism, it’s a fascism against women’s bodies. I’m a longtime survivor of eating disorders, so I know that you can be dragged back into the disease anyway. So, you know, I’m in remission now, because I’ve done a lot of work on it. But it’s hard.”
In 1993, the Supreme Court ruled that sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal. However, the sexual objectification of women continues. A feminist is someone who supports the social, political, and economic equality of women—organizations such as Feminist.com, make it easy to identify with the “f-word” by shining a light on topics from women’s businesses to anti-violence. We’ll discuss the various ways society has determined women’s placement in our country based on their bodies.
Everyone uses social media. Social Media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Youtube have a huge influence on many young women all over the world. But, in a nation that preaches both freedom and equality, is that shown in our media?
Let’s start with equality, is there such a thing as gender equality in the media? Think of billboard ads, commercials, even newsletters like this one. Take a look at the American Apparel Advertisement above, doesn’t it just scream equality? And of course by equality, I mean sexism.
Or what about the picture above of Beyonce’s 2009 MTV Europe Music Awards Performance. Is this the embodiment of freedom? Or even Beyonce’s 2013 music video, Flawless. When it comes to the objectification of women, some critics argue that it’s women who objectify themselves, thus allowing other men to do so as well. So do raunchy icons, such as Beyonce, Rihanna, Madonna, and Nicki Minaj, promote the objectification of women or do they empower women to openly express their sexuality?
There are women who see these celebrities as independent women who have control over their own bodies, who are successful, and who are free to express their sexuality—which is empowering to them. But on the flip side, many young girls look up to them and aspire to be like them but for the wrong reasons. They start dressing differently to try look and be like such icons. Instead of feeling empowered they feel insecure. There was a physiological study in 2014 to see how selfie-takers feel about their appearance. Shockingly, only 13% said they feel confident in their own skin and 60% said they have low self-esteem. Women all over the world feel insecure about their appearance because of social media. A whopping 54% of women ages 18 to 40 feel unhappy with themselves. In my opinion, I feel that celebrities and social media do not empower women.
This is a topic that could be fiercely argued from both sides whether you’re a feminist or not. As women continue to battle for their own identities in this visual era of music, there is still a grey area to be examined as we decide if they are still just puppets dancing for their male masters.
Catcalling is a very big issue that isn’t given nearly enough attention. Girls starting at the age of 10 and up go through it on a regular basis. Men take it too far and use the excuse that they are just being friendly—to those whom which, might I add, are not their friends. A viral video that came out a couple years ago, 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman, brought the issue of catcalling to light. During a CNN debate in response to the viral video, one man argued that guys are just “complimenting” women.
Girls from the ages 18-29 took a survey and 31% of girls take it as a compliment and 45% feel they are being harassed. For older women ages 30-44 20% take is as a compliment and 55% think it’s harassment.
But the question is, why do men find it acceptable to catcall? Really all it comes down to is respect. The lack of respect for women is the reason men so confidently catcall. This brings us to the living mannequin concept. Men see women as sexual beings that are up for display, and what do you do when you see a mannequin? You comment on the clothing it displays, or, in this case, the body it displays.
In a perfect world, men and women would be equal—meaning equal rights, equal pay, and equal opportunity. But what about the differences of worth. Are there differences between a woman’s worth and a man’s worth? If so, who’s worth more? How is a person’s worth measured? Is the worth of a woman and a man measured differently?
The society we know today was once an agricultural society. This means there was no hustling and bustling to and from an office job, or getting to the metro on time so you’re not late to work. Survival was all people were focused on and agriculture was how they made a living—an industry that requires a lot of strength. So naturally, those with the most brawn were valued more and given a place on the throne.
But thank God for Industrialization because now all of that is irrelevant, but for some reason patriarchal societies continue to thrive. Maybe it’s because the notion that men are worth more than women still exists. Think about it this way, let’s say you’re a female and you have a twin brother. To be fair, you’re both the same age, same height, same weight, have the same intelligence (arguably, since boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider), and let’s say that you are both drowning in the ocean and society is the only thing that can save you and they only have one life preserver (let’s pretend the USA’s production of life preservers has reached an all time low), who do you think they’d save? Well based on statistical data, one being a 2011 Gallup Poll on Americans asking if they’d rather a male or female baby with 40% of Americans saying they’d rather a boy and 28% of Americans saying they’d rather a girl, leaving 32% of Americans who have no preference—males are generally preferred. Now this is just based on statistics without factoring in whether or not society would be chivalrous and sacrifice the man to save the damsel in distress—nonetheless, the woman would miserably die.
But why is that? Why do the majority of Americans prefer a male baby over a female baby? This isn’t China where you can only have two children and males are preferred to carry on the family legacy. The number of children you can have is endless—you could supply kids for an entire school if you wanted to.
This shows how Americans are sexist even before they become parents—this means that children already are introduced to stereotypical views on gender as soon as they’re born; whether they’re looking at colors, the stereotypical conclusion of whether which is the color of a boy or a girl is pink and blue or having played dates, the stereotypical conclusion of whether you should invite boys or girls in. Or in examples that Kasey Edwards brings up in “What to do when you Witness Sexist Parenting,” fathers have said to their children, “Toughen up and stop being a girl” insisting that men should not be “weeping women.” And she also states the example that girls should not be dirty which promotes the sexist, and, might I add, extremely ridiculous and illogical, idea for women to maintain their “purity,” as a grandmother replies to her granddaughter, “Little girls don’t play in the mud”.
Yes, society is the issue if one is looking at the problem from a larger scope; however, family teachings are the root of the problem. If one of the first things a child learns is that boys should not cry or that girls do not play in mud—there is a problem! These seemingly small, but fundamental primary lessons grow into even larger problems because our parents do not remain our teachers forever, there always comes a point in time where their words mean nothing to a child—typically during teenage years as we all may know. So now who becomes the new teacher? The oh so lovely, media—commercials, music videos, video games, you name it! And wait, there’s more! When you enter into adulthood, the workforce is the ultimate and final professor of life—everyone knows a man should make more than a woman. Why? What do you mean, ‘why?’ because a man’s a man and a woman’s a woman. Through every stage of an individual’s life, new teachings are confirmed by previous teachings, making the new teachings ever more validated.
Girls at very young ages begin to see what our society advertises and begin to dream of looking like the women in the commercials, billboards, magazines, etc. This mentality influences both genders at an early age. Boys dreams about dating/marrying the supermodel and girls want to become the supermodel. That’s just the way things are, “boys will be boys” and “girls wear pink clothes.” What the adolescent minds don’t understand is that they won’t always find that supermodel or that Prince Charming. Many girls want to join beauty pageants, modeling programs, acting programs and more but when society sees that they aren’t the dazzling model they want they turn them down. This is when girls feel shot down in flames and feel like they aren’t good enough to do anything because they fear their appearance is grotesque in the eyes of many.
Many women of all ages begin to undergo a series of actions that may not be good for their health in an attempt to lose weight, have a slimmer waist, and overall a ‘nice’ figure. Many girls pick up poor habits such as eating less, intentionally throwing up after meals, going on extreme diets, and refusing food. In an article from the Huffington Post, 6 Things We Lose, 6 important morals we lose by degrading women are addressed: Good Art, Sensitivity to Beauty, Rational Reasoning, Realistic Expectations, Respect, and a Culture of Freedom.
We wonder why our girls come home crying from school because a boy rejected her, or when she’s not accepted to Barbizon. We never teach our girls to love themselves for who they are and tell them to understand they don’t need the perfect beach body to succeed in life. We need to show our girls that boys and their opinion are irrelevant. We need to show our girls to flaunt their mind and personality, not their bikini Instagram selfies.
Prostitution is illegal in most parts of this country; however, it still overwhelmingly takes over this nation. Many people find prostitution to be a significant moral and/or legal problem in our society. However, it’s important to understand the differences between sex work and trafficking.
Human trafficking is the illegal movement of people, typically for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation. In this sense, women are forced into sexual slavery. The victims of human trafficking can be anyone, but the most targeted are young women. Most prostitutes do not work voluntarily and were either kidnapped, forced, or tricked by traffickers. No human wants to be used as a commodity, nor feel discriminated, nor be oppressed. This is an issue in today’s world, but why does sexual slavery still occur? Why do men feel it’s morally acceptable to purchase women against their will?
The Guardian interviewed 12 men asking: Why men use prostitutes? Obviously, men pay for sex because they want to have sex and most likely cannot get it elsewhere—it’s not rocket science. But why do they think it’s okay to “rent” an unwilling woman for a few hours? Shockingly, a great majority of the men that were interviewed understood that most prostitutes are being trafficked against their will, yet they still visit the prostitutes.
Sex work is the supply of sexual services for money or goods. Although legislation and social discussion have often blurred or denied any difference, it’s important to note that sex work is voluntary—differentiating it from trafficking.
Contrary to the ugly stereotypes of prostitutes as fallen women, dope addicts, or disease carriers; sex workers are women at work—supporting children as single parents, trying to save money to go to school, and/or surviving economically in a job market that underpays women at every economic level.
Some feminists have been critical of prostitutes for reinforcing sex-role stereotypes by allowing themselves to be sex objects or for participating in the sex industry, which many think contributes to violence against women. Many see sex work as violence in and of itself, especially when children and young girls are involved. Others insist that it is a legitimate way for women to earn money from men. As one prostitute said, “It’s my body; why shouldn’t I be the one to decide how I should use it?”
As heavy of a topic, it may be, the topic of prostitution must be addressed. I believe the lack of acknowledgement of the differences of sex work and trafficking is what has contributed to the increase in human trafficking. Often times law enforcement raids in the U.S. targeted to stop true slavery—trafficking—get misapplied to sex workers, this has led to little success in identifying trafficked victims but instead have driven sex work underground. All this does is increase the risk of violence and deny any protection for sex workers. It’s as if society has such an enormous abundance of fuel (but a lack of life preservers as mentioned previously) that they are so overwhelmingly tempted to just throw it in an erupting flame—so they do, repeatedly. And to add insult to injury, sex law is often a front for an ideology that constrains rather than liberates women. Oh and it gets worse, some feminists who have fought vigorously against the denial of rights to women, now support the confusion and have adopted the oppressive role of the man by telling sex workers what is best for them—if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
Whether it’s sexism displayed by the media, verbal harassment from men on the streets, dictating parents, pressure induced disorders, or denying the right to your own body, females are living mannequins—simply in existence for other’s entertainment and delight. Your sister, your mother, your aunt, even your grandmother is a living mannequin. Even I’m a mannequin—I remember a year ago when I was 15 I was walking down the street, a car with two men passed by me and started cat calling. They started yelling, “Hey baby, do you need a ride?” while blowing kisses and whistling. This is the first time that I realized I was a forced exhibitionist. So next time you step out into the world, walk down a street, or if you’re feeling “ambitious,” go for a job interview, remember to stand up straight and look pretty.