A few months ago, I watched the documentary Miss Representation on Netflix (and I'd highly recommend it). While the entire thing is pretty fascinating to me, the part that stuck with me the most were clips similar to the ones below…clips of people, mostly men, but often times women as well, talking badly about Hillary Clinton. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not the World's biggest Hillary Clinton fan, but I'm very bothered by the fact that we, as a society, have let talking about her, or really any woman this way, be okay.
You go, Hillary. They look so stupid and uneducated that they cannot simply report on what she said or did, they must talk about her tone of voice, or her wardrobe, or her favorite designer (which for the love of God why does it even matter?). And omg, God forbid that she wear a tight suit or show a bit of cleavage, because the men of the world just cannot handle the messages that sends and we can't treat them like grown adults that can control themselves, now can we? (I really don't mean to be anti-males, because some of them are just as respectful and upstanding as ever, but I am seriously frustrated by the minority that aren't). And when they discussed her "nagging voice" and said that's the reason she lost the male vote, I honestly could not believe that that was put on national television. Say it's because she wasn't very relatable, or she wasn't a great speaker, or just did not seem fit to govern our country…still weak but anything is better than blaming it on the tone of her voice and saying the men of American just didn't want to hear it…and then to compare it to their wives' voices! Then they had the nerve to say "It cries." Don't even get me started on that one. And when the last news anchor said that when she comes on TV he "involuntarily crosses his legs"….seriously? How weak of a person are you? I am very confused at the lack of outrage at his utter stupidity and disrespect. Would a woman EVER get on live TV and say these things about a man? No, because that would be considered irrelevant, immature, and inappropriate. Have I made my point? (Sidenote: When you Google Hillary Clinton albums titled "Angry" and "Tired" come up…it is not that way for Barack Obama).
Let me just say, I did not understand how much of a problem sexism is until I started researching it, which is why I'm sharing this video as well. Can we just discuss how much truth there is in that video? Why is it that when girls complain about how guys (some, not all, can't be hating on an entire gender…) act, people treat it like they need to learn to take a compliment, or lighten up, or just get over it and move on because it's normal? I never noticed before really thinking about it how much that places the blame on the girls…makes them feel ashamed and embarrassed for making a big deal out of it or even saying anything in the first place. That is just wrong to me, and I don't understand how we've gotten to a place where people would rather people be quiet about it and let it go rather than deal with the discomfort of actually trying to do something about it.
"And the more these incidents came back to me, the more I wondered why I'd played them down at the time – why I'd never complained. The answer was that these events hadn't seemed exceptional enough for me to object to. Because this kind of thing was just part of life – or, rather, part of being a woman. And I started to wonder how many other women had had similar experiences. So I started asking around. To my surprise, every woman I spoke to had a story. And they weren't random one-off events, but reams of tiny pinpricks – like my own experiences – so niggling and normalised that to protest about each one felt trivial. Yet put them together, and the picture was strikingly clear. This inequality, this pattern of casual intrusion whereby women could be leered at, touched, harassed and abused, was sexism. And if sexism means treating people differently or discriminating against them purely because of their sex, then women were experiencing it on a near-daily basis."
Sexism is a serious issue. One people want to laugh at, minimize, and sweep under the rug because it's uncomfortable and tricky, I get that, but that's not an excuse. Whether it's people saying things they shouldn't say or crossing clear boundaries or just staring creepily and making a girl feel uncomfortable, sexism is a daily issue, and it's not a joke. This shouldn't be dismissed as something girls just have to "deal with" as they grow up either, because it's not just sexual harassment, it's being judged more on appearance than ability, it's being made to feel stupid or incapable because of gender, and it's clear sexual double standards, and if that's not affecting girls' futures, not only in their career and professional lives, but also in their relationships and personal lives, then I don't know what is.
It's just very unsettling to me, because I would love to believe that women and men are equal, because I mean, this is 2014, not 1950, but that isn't the case. I'm not going to be totally naive and think that both in life and politics that things will ever fully change, because I know that it won't. For many years to come it will always be more important to most people what a woman looks like rather than what she is saying. And don't get me wrong, I will never say that I haven't used that in my favor when I really shouldn't have and that certain doors haven't been opened because of the way I look/act/dress, because they have, but I wonder how different things would be if I was ugly/fat/socially awkward/etc. and I think that for men, looks don't factor into things nearly as much as for women, though they do play a part.
I know that there will be people who will react to this post with a "Duh, this has happened for all of time, why does it matter?" but I don't really care. I don't think it's always been this way, and I don't know how we've become a society who instead of correcting the problem would choose to say things like "Oh, boys will be boys." I don't know how we'd even begin to fix the mixed up way both genders view each other and I realize that these behaviors are some people's so called "normal," but that doesn't make it right, and it's time people said that it isn't okay. It isn't okay for men to respect women less than they respect each other. It isn't okay for women to feel like they can't speak up when someone does something inappropriate that makes them feel uncomfortable. It isn't okay for someone else to judge what is and isn't crossing the line. It isn't okay for someone to downplay sexist things that have happened to you because they don't find you attractive enough to be sexually harassed. It isn't okay for both men and women to judge other women based on their outward appearances and not who they are as a person. And it isn't okay for women to complain about it and then continue to tear other women apart that they don't deem "up to par"…because really, why are looks (and clothes, and social circles, and money) so damn important? (taking a breath and calming down now…)
As you can see, all of this has fired me up to the point of dedicating an entire blog post, because I just feel like it's so important and I'm so frustrated by the way people down play it all of the time. In the end, I feel like the roots of our rape culture, and body image issues, and sexual inequality, and discomfort at the thought of even publicly discussing sex or anything relating to it, can be traced back to sexism…and that's so important! We need to start listening and stop judging…especially women, who should be supporting each other, not dragging each other down. Just because something is "normal" and has become someone's habit, does not make it right.
I will just leave this here for anyone who feels like our media isn't completely sexist and our society isn't constantly accepting totally messed up messages about what women should look like and act like, and how men should view them. Please tell me how this is necessary to sell food.
And let's all laugh that their slogan is "More than just a piece of meat." HA HA HA.
This would generally be the point when I apologize for ranting, but I'm not going to. It's time people stop pretending that things like this are okay and not totally uncomfortable and misleading. We should be teaching girls to be strong and speak their minds, not be afraid to be who they are because men may not like it, and we should be teaching boys to take responsibility for their actions and respect women as they are and not view them as objects who aren't valuable if they aren't perfect, because newsflash, perfection doesn't exist…not even for righteous old men.
P.S. - This is a great article relative to all of these issues and he says it much better than I ever could…especially when I'm angry blogging at 3 AM. #whoops