I finally watched Miss Representation and I can’t stop thinking about it. It intrigued me, empowered me, pissed me off and confused me. But it also made a lot of sense. It made me realize a few things about myself, women in general and the world around me.
Sex sells. I remember learning this during Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) sessions with village police officers in fifth grade. You’re flipping through channels and––oh wait, what was that?––you turn back to the commercial of a voluptuous woman modeling Victoria’s Secret underwear. Those VS Angels are beautiful women. I know. (But shit, I can’t afford those bras.)
As an aspiring communicator, I found this commercial clever:
The shot slowly moves up her body. You’re going to stay on that channel just to see what’s being advertised, I don’t care if you’re a man or woman. It captivates you. Keeps you watching. Shows you what you should buy, what you should be interested in.
I’m flattered. Truly, I am. I have what she^ has, I have what the Angels have, though I may not be as tall, toned or tan. Men admire those women? They admire me. As Uma Thurman so tastefully drilled into my head, if you got it, flaunt it! So flaunt it.
But this is where the “confused” and “pissed” parts lie. I’m confused because I think it’s great that those women are –– apparently –– comfortable in their own skin, but I’m pissed because they’re so objectified, slaughtered with makeup, coated with darker skin tones and then Photoshop is still necessary to erase some blemishes, raise the cheekbones and elongate and flatten the torso. Boys grow up seeing these unrealistic images and subconsciously carry them into adulthood. I get more attention from men when I have my hair straightened. Go figure.
The men in underwear commercials are dreamy, and let’s not forget this “abomination” (which I found hilarious):
But I can’t see what those guys are packing underneath those boxers –– can you? Didn’t think so. But you can look at a woman and get a good idea of what you’re going to get once her clothes fall to the floor. Maybe Muslim women have it right…
Imagine my 12-year-old disappointment when my friend and I popped in an American Pie DVD and didn’t see a single naked penis among the seemingly mob-like number of completely naked women.
But what spurred this post for me tonight is that, honestly, sometimes the highlight of my days –– especially during this boring blur of a break –– is when I get a “like” on a Facebook or Instagram picture. Years of social networking has led me to base my value as a person on the number of thumbs-up and heart signs my photos can accrue.
But I’ve also noticed I’m not alone.
My “like” lists are female-heavy. We women tend to be heavier users of social media and tend to care more about the content posted, not to mention the likes and comments that follow. My mom often reads me Facebook posts her friends have made. Most of these posts are written by her female Facebook friends. My dad doesn’t give a shit about Facebook or technology in general. Neither does my cousin, though his wife and his sisters are avid users.
Women post more than men do, post more pictures than men do and appear to check social media platforms far more often than men do. I’d like to think my female friends are multi-tasking –– merely happening upon posts while doing other tasks online and liking them seconds after they’re posted –– but reflections on my own internet behaviors tell me otherwise.
Facebook has become another popularity contest, another beauty contest. I wasn’t raised to base my own life’s value on the mere opinions of others, so it sickens me that I do –– to an extent –– sometimes.
Women are just more susceptible, in nearly every sense of the word. Susceptible to objectification and underestimation. Susceptible to low self esteem.
There’s so much more to this –– boys are taught to be men from an early age, the woman-to-man ratio in politics, etc. –– and I couldn’t possibly go over every aspect, especially when I’m still formulating my own opinions.
I’m still caught between being flattered and being pissed, but maybe I’ll figure that out as I get older.
Call the confident, working women “bitches,” but at least they’re breaking free of the stereotype that women are here for their bodies to reproduce and to then care for what they produce.
I’m breaking free, too.