In my post-turkey laziness, I was idly poking around the internet. And then I started to notice some similarities between certain headlines. Here’s a sampling of what I saw in 20 minutes of screen-time:
“Christina Aguilera Gets Slammed For Skin-Tight, Cleavage-Baring AMA Outfit” – US Weekly
“Hot! Kristen Wiig Sizzles in Black Lingerie for GQ Photo Shoot” – US Weekly
“Can Parents Be Convinced To Want Baby Girls?” -Jezebel
“CURVY Kate Winslet doesn’t miss a trick as she clads her curves in another optical illusion frock.” – The Sun
“’She doesn’t look like a princess. Where’s her dress?’: What primary school children thought of Duchess Kate when she paid them a surprise visit in jeans” – Daily Mail Online
“Man Posts Evidence of Bride’s Lost Virginity To Facebook, World Retches” -Jezebel
“Newly single? Jennifer Love Hewitt looks heartbroken as she picks up comfort food in sweats and no make-up” -Daily Mail
“Bitch Stole My Look: Jennifer Lopez vs. Britney Spears”-Eonline (“bitch stole my look” is a running feature on this site)
Now. It’s not news that women are objectified in popular culture. But it’s truly shocking (to me, at least) that for the entire length of time there has been print media in the United States, there has been visual and linguistic objectification of women. It’s bad enough when we’re subjected to these images in advertisements, but when the arbitrary concepts of “hotness” or “thinness” are actual headlines in and of themselves – when all we know about a princess is that she’s supposed to wear a dress – when all we care about when we see an accomplished actress is whether or not she’s wearing sweatpants (and by the way, do you know why women wear sweats and leave the house without makeup? Because sweats are comfy, duh) – and when we constantly set successful women up as each others’ foils – well, sometimes, I just feel like things are getting worse, not better. It’s obscenely pervasive. It pisses me off. And I feel like we’ve all kind of just laid down and accepted that this is the way things have got to be.
I see a lot of equality movements getting traction these days, and I am a part of many of them, and I say RIGHT ON to them all. I’m concerned, however, that feminism – the reasoned, theoretical and practical, and yes, dogmatic set of beliefs that hold that women are of equal value to our society and in our culture – isn’t a part of conversations of equality anymore, except as something of a footnote. I’m concerned that at a time when young progressives are riding a swelling tide of progressive thought, none of it is focused specifically on the role of women in society. I can’t fathom how women’s lack of equality in the financial sector isn’t a huge topic of conversation within the Occupy Wall Street movement. Or why we don’t talk about the (almost nonexistent) number of single women who exist within the 1%. Why we’re not talking more about the extreme marginalization of women of color and women who are immigrants.
I don’t understand how we can allow female legislators to be called “socialist bitches” without causing a hue and cry. I don’t understand how in just 20 minutes on the internet, I can find – as I just randomly surf – eight examples of abject objectification of high profile women, as well as just some straight out misogyny. I feel like women are somehow getting lost in the new struggle for a new order, and I’m not sure how to prevent this from happening, or how to bring about a new consciousness around the issues that women still face in society today. I’m all out of answers on this one. Any ideas?