I penned my last essay to start a discussion about the entitlement to women’s bodies, which (whoooo) it sure did create a discussion. One which I wasn’t able to actively participate in because unfortunately I have an early bedtime (don’t judge). There were some great comments and discussions going on however, a few things stuck in my mind.
1. There is a belief that to stop objectification women must behave in a preventative manner i.e. dress appropriately, act appropriately (whatever this means).
2. For some odd reason other women of western civilizations have no right to complain because the savages in Africa and Arabic countries are worse to their women.
3. Last but not least, women need to stop complaining…PERIOD.
First let me define a few key terms for you
To present as an object
, something that one’s efforts or actions are intended to attain or accomplish.
Misogyny: hatred, dislike, or mistrust and mistreatment of women.
With those two definitions made clear. Lets discuss. 1. Its pretty clear to me that women (around the world including the western world) are objectified. We are seen as tokens and trophies. I.e. the term trophy wife, or in so much of music across the board, on TV or in magazines where women are being worn almost as clothes or props, i.e. Axe commercials, I’m just saying there’s no denying that and anyone saying any different is just plain wrong. A couple of arguments stated “Last I checked women also do things with their bodies that clearly send a message that they want their bodies to be seen in a sexual light” and ” the result of that is some men will objectify women based on the actions and words of women who feel that women shouldn’t be ‘ASHAMED’ about our bodies or sexuality and we should feel free to flaunt it and embrace it.”
To refute this argument I will use this persons exact words from the same comment “Men are sexualized, children are sexualized and women are sexualized ALL DAY EVERYDAY.” *Scratching head*…sooooo if everyone is sexualized how can the “look right, act right” rhetoric be a solution? It isn’t I haven’t found any research stating that women who dress a certain way or act a certain way can avoid rape/sexual assault or harassment. I have, however found plenty or research stating the FACT that rape is NOT about sex, it is about power and control, thus what women wear won’t make a difference. I think my 3 year old self in my Lamb Chop Pjs would agree that when I got molested there wasn’t a single sexual bone in my body, thank you very much. I really wish this frame of mind would not exist, and I believe it continues to be perpetuated by ignorance. Could it be preventative? Sure maybe. But how about we also address the fact that PEOPLE (not just men) feel the need to have Power and Control over the female body. Again this includes women who continue to slut shame. If someone were to commit a crime, usually the criminal is prosecuted, but in our bass-ackword world if a woman is the victim it must be something SHE did. Take the case of the Penn State sexual assault cases, no one questioned the motive of these men as they recalled their ordeals. However, in every rape case involving a woman there is a general mistrust of motive etc. This my people, is what we call Misogyny.
2. I’m not sure who in the comment section is/has been to Africa, but there is a definite misguided attempt to silence the female voices here by comparing apples to oranges. “Go live in some parts of Africa or the Middle East where women really have no say on how they present their bodies, what they wear. Let alone get educated and make their own choices in the kinds of men they wish to date/marry. Western men are a far cry from those truly entitled men in African and Middle eastern nations that control women in every aspect” As an African woman myself, I am deeply offended by this narrow view of an entire continent. Yes, rape is used as a war tool in Africa as it is all around the world, Yes, a terrorist group kidnapped almost 300 girls, however this is not the majority. Please stop taking your information from Poverty Porn. Not every woman in Africa is oppressed and I would like to add that the REASON for a lot of these atrocities happen stems from colonialism which means…IT COMES FROM WESTERN CIVILIZATION. Even FGC can be traced back to colonialism
. Meaning our world, in which we have no right to “complain” about is the one that perfected misogyny and objectification first, thus we SHOULD have every right to advocate.
Better yet, for those misguided souls who truly believe that changing our style of dress will help save us against rape please take a look at the very Muslim culture that was spoken about. For those of you who do not know, the veil was once a sign of status, uniqueness and empowerment. It was then taken and used as a tool against women, by…you guessed it, men which is what many see today. This is what we call Objectification. Without knowing the history it is easy to get confused. Read more about the history of veiling here
. My point isn’t that there aren’t atrocities happening around the world but rather that we need to unite our struggles instead of trying to tear them down or segregate them. U-N-I-T-Y!
3. And this is the saddest of all. Through all the comments that I read I continued to see, “stop complaining” or this person needs to “shut up.” This, in case you are confused, is called silencing. Silencing the voices of those who are sharing their stories is a de facto reaction of a culture built in patriarchy. Is talking about the issue, and voicing our opinions about what happened not a part of the healing process. Better yet is that not what leads to finding solutions? By silencing people are in turn ripping down other women, which is the exact reason that it is hard for progress to be made on women’s issues. Everyone wants to be right, however I believe that what we should be fighting for is women to have a choice. A choice to dress themselves without being shamed. A choice to be as modest or as sex positive as they would like to be without worrying about being harassed by men and women alike. We should be fighting for that, instead of against each other.
In conclusion, yes, women should be weary of sexual assault because it exists and because globally we don’t do enough to prevent it. However, the bigger issue is that we need to do more, and it starts with a shift in culture, not in clothes.