Women must stop portraying themselves as perpetual victims. As an African American woman, I have been more oppressed by women than men. So, women, stop the sanctimonious attitude!
This essay is commentary on the recent revelations and accusations of sexual harassment, rape, and pedophilia committed by powerful men. It attempts to put this problem into context. First, with exception of the second woman who accused Congressman Al Franklen of improper behavior, I believe the women who have come forward and shared their stories. They are survivors who are brave and credible, and should be believed. Second, there is no excuse for the improper behavior committed by men that they described. The men accused are weak, giving in to their base instincts and socialization. Having said that, women are not innocent of this development. They must also be held accountable.
Historically, women have been oppressed. They were considered the property of their husbands. Men believed that they were entitled to control the country and the world. They went to work; and, women stayed home, cleaned the house, cooked and raised their children. Women’s virtue was sacred. Her body belonged to her husband. Social messages told males that they were smarter and superior to females in every way. They could even legally beat their wives if they chose. With women’s suffrage, feminism, and the Civil Rights Movement, women have made significant progress.
However, women as a group has not risen to the challenge of ensuring a continued trajectory of their emancipation from oppression. They have instead partnered with men to ensure they continue to be viewed as meat, judged by the shape of their bodies. The beauty industry is a billion-dollar industry. While it is probably controlled by men, women drive it. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Other culprits are Ms. America pageants, Ms. Universe pageants, commercials (like underwear commercials) that portray women as sexual objects, the clothing industry that produces and sells skimpy revealing clothing, exercise clothing that looks like underwear, the magazine industry with sexually explicit images of women, music videos where women are called bitches and hoes, etc. etc. etc. I could go on and on.
I have highlighted these industries as examples, but women have made personal choices that have negatively impacted other women. This is not a racial phenomenon. Women of all colors have perpetuated this problem. Remember when Jennifer Lopez made headlines when she wore a revealing gown that showed most of her body, with the exception of her vagina? Remember when Rihanna wore a transparent gown that revealed her naked body? What about women who wear bikinis that show their buttocks? They were not forced to do these things. They made an intentional choice.
The popular argument against this narrative is women should be able to walk down the street naked and not be attacked or touched. That’s true but, as we see, that does not reflect reality. It is well documented that males think about sex every few minutes. It is also well documented that males are visual animals. They are sexually stimulated by what they see. That’s why pornographic magazines and movies are popular. Knowing this why would women wave this red flag in front of them?
I have been amazed at the number of girls and women who publicly wear outfits that reveal all their body parts, including vaginas. While their vaginas may not be visible, its shape is clearly outlined through the clothing. Micro mini dresses and skirts are worn so short that the slightest wrong move could reveal the women’s vaginas. Bras that boost up breasts and show as much cleavage as possible are also problematic. These images are paraded in front of men and boys daily. They see it all around them. If you do not want men to view females as a piece of meat, this practice must stop.
Western men and women criticize eastern countries where women are covered up while at they peel as much clothing as possible from their women. I’m not saying that all women must be fully covered from head to toe, but there must be an acceptable compromise. Glamorous does not have to be sexy. Beauty should be internal based on character.
The practices of the industries cited above and the bad choices of women have negatively affected other women who are just trying to live their lives. While women can do what they wish with their bodies, they must understand how their choices are affecting other women. Women, you do have a choice. You can pursue career paths other than using your body to make money. If women collectively decided to make other choices, the industries will eventually dry up; and, the images and messages will change. In addition, I believe that if these things are done, fewer women would be sexually victimized. Women, we cannot solely rely on men to do this. We must take affirmative steps to stop this dynamic. Stop supporting and combat industries that promote and/or reinforce the sexualization of women and girls. Make different personal and professional choices. Teach children to respect females. These are just some things you can do. There are many more. Feminists and womanists rise up and fulfill your mission. Empower women and girls and educate men and boys.