Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The sexualisation of women

Today while I was attempting to write my essay on the novel Disgrace, I heard my brother listening to a song. Two guys were rapping. I hadn't heard the song before, but it basically spoke about women the way most hiphop songs do. Like objects. "I like pussy. I like cunts, but I don't like women" one of them shouted. I was disgusted. It seems to be not more than normal to view women as nothing more but objects who have to listen to men, because, well men are superior, aren't they?

I'm not a feminist. I don't go around burning my bra, screaming how awful men are. Because I've met quite a few good men along the way. However, the thing that bothers me is that there is still a large majority of guys who think it is normal to treat women like they are of no importance. Like they are just there to please men. In the novel I have to write an essay about, there is one quote that particularly sparked my interest: “She does not own herself. Beauty does not own itself.” This is not just a quote from a book. It is sadly what some men perceive to be reality.
Whenever a girl walks down the street in a pretty dress and men whistle, she is supposed to feel honoured. She is supposed to feel good about the fact that she looks good enough to be whistled at. To be considered an object of desire. But how honourable is it to be whistled at by strangers, asked for sexual favours and more often than not, after you decline, being called stuck-up or a whore? Yes, everybody likes attention. Everybody likes to be considered pretty. It's fun to flirt. But that doesn't mean that a girl wants to flirt with every random guy on the street. It doesn't mean that a girl is appreciative of your sexual comments. It doesn't make someone feel better. It only makes them feel scared and insecure.

I remember when I was 19 and I was alone waiting for the train. A guy came up to me. He was my age and he started talking to me so we had a nice conversation. When the train came, he followed me and sat opposite me. At a sudden point he would start stroking my leg and I felt very uncomfortable about it. I was afraid to speak up because I was rather shy. He asked me if I wanted to come to his house to have sex. I politely declined. I had known this guy for half an hour and he already thought it was okay for him to ask me for sexual favours, just because he was in the mood for sex and I was the first vagina he spotted.

Women are sexualised in the media, that's a fact. And I think that it's okay for women to use their sexuality to a certain extend. There is nothing wrong with nudity as long as it is tasteful. There is no shame in the female body. But how often do we see half-naked men on Page Three? How often are men called manwhores for having sex with a lot of different girls? Women are sluts the moment they enjoy their sexuality and sleep with more than one guy. Why is a man a hero when he slept with 5 girls in one weekend? 

Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, even Beyonce who is seen as the rolemodel for female empowerment show themselves as sexual objects in their music videos. It's fine when you want to show the world that you are comfortable in your skin, but the fact that the ladies perform all kinds of sexual acts in the video, while the men are usually just watching it happen is strange.

In her latest video, Jennifer Lopez turned the tables around and had hot half-naked men perform the role of video hoes. And what strikes me most is that a lot of people were actually surprised by the video. As if men can't be objects of desire. As if us girls can't lust after a guy without being called a whore.

When girls get raped, there are people who dare to say that it is the girl's fault. That if she hadn't dressed 'provocatively' it wouldn't have happened. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with clothes. It has to do with values. It has to do with respect. It seems that we live in a world in which boys are taught that women are inferior, whether by their environment or by what they see in the media. Instead of blaming girls for being put in the position of lust object, we should teach boys that you treat a woman with respect. That you do not touch her if she does not want you to touch her. That you do not go up to a strange girl to ask her for sex and call her names if she doesn't comply. Because men don't own women. We don't wear a sign around our necks that says I'M A WHORE, USE ME AS YOU PLEASE. 

Sex is a great thing and it is a powerful thing. It's great when two people are in love and make love. But it has to always be consensual and all the parties involved have to be respected. I fear we still have a long way to go before we're truly equal. Until that time, dear media, instead of just throwing boobs in our faces all the time, at least show up some penis action too. You know, for equality.

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