Written by: Amanda Rodrigues
They say Khloe is the ugly Kardashian. They say Jesy Nelson is the ugly Little Mix, not anymore, she left. They say Demi Lovato is fat. They say Britney Spears is crazy. They say Angelina is anorexic because of Brad. They say a lot of things about people who they don’t know. It is time to stop saying things and think about the kind of media we consume. Where do you put your money into? Who do you support?
As an adult, I feel ashamed for having consumed such toxic media as a teen, but I need to forgive myself, I didn’t know any better. The discussions we have now in the 20s did not occur in the 00s. A very cruel period of time for women, by the way. But you see, things aren’t still a dream, in reality there’s still a lot of shaming and belittling women for their appearance. My local tv network has fired two journalist women because they were overweighted. Is that really how we’re going to treat half the planet?
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said on her Ted Talk “We should all be feminists” that we’re raising our children wrong. Girls are being raised to be fragile, not too ambitious, to put themselves in an inferior position in contrast to men. Boys are being taught to be strong because they’re men, and men can’t be vulnerable, they must provide for women. Is she wrong? I don’t think so, and if you look well you will see it too. Children are not raised as equal, which is hurting them (because they can’t be themselves) and perpetuating the gender inequality cycle.
June Sarpong, who wrote “The power of women” makes a doomer observation: black women’s lives are even harder than anybody else’s. She stated:
“…When it comes to representation in the media, the fight for gender equality often crosses over into, and sometimes clashes with, the fight for racial equality, and black women are at the epicentre of these two struggles. They have a fight on two fronts: they must negotiate a society that discriminates against them because of their gender, and also imposes upon them a standard of female beauty that is at the other end of the spectrum they represent. All in a patriarchal society where women are judged primarily by their appearance before they even say or do anything.”
That paragraph will always stay in mind and I can’t help but think of all the black women I know. Being a woman is already a daily challenge that men have no idea about. Another interesting observation that we don’t think about is the premise of the male body default. Caroline Criado Perez released a book called “Invisible women” where she details all (if possible) the unconscious biases we have about gender. Strikingly, the male default leapt out and attracted my attention. She proves with extensive research that nearly every single thing in this world is designed by men for men.
As Caroline wrote, “The result of this deeply male-dominated culture is that the male experience, the male perspective, has come to be seen as universal, while the female experience- that of half the global population, after all – is seen as, well, niche.” She used the word niche, but I’d like to add the words forgotten, ignored, belittled, unimportant, etc. That is the fight we are still fighting. To be seen as worthy, to be seen and treated as human beings.
But I can’t sit here and blame the media for how women are treated. This is much bigger than that. We as consumers tell the media professionals we want the hottest gossip about the famous. We as people rush to judge women online and call them sluts because they have sex. We are bringing up kids like this: making boys superior and girls inferior. June Sarpong also alerts us that we all need female role models in our lives so we can start seeing women as equal.
To illustrate the problem, I asked my girlfriends on WhatsApp to tell me about one situation that happened to them solely because they are women. To my surprise, Lucy said that when she was learning English and was the only woman in the classroom, her male teacher made her repeat many times the word “pennies” because it sounded like she was saying “penis”. She felt humiliated.
Another friend said that there were so many, every day, that it was hard to remember a specific one. Isis said she used to see her male colleagues earning the same as her or more and for doing less work. Tatiane, a Brazilian woman, had to hear someone say to her Irish boyfriend she was only after his passport and there was no love at all. Then another friend said “it happened to me too!” They, too, felt humiliated.
One day, Layla and her sister asked their father why they were obligated to wash the dishes while their brother watched tv. The answer was short: it works like this in my house. The truth is we are never going to stop this fight until we achieve equality and women stop being treated like shite. Because all of this inequality is costing us all as a society.
Questions to consider –
- Have you had any similar experiences?
2. What are your thoughts on the fight for equality?
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