Thursday, March 15, 2012

Are Women Really Liberated These Days or Do We Just Like to Say We Are?

I’ll admit that I sometimes read those idiot articles that Yahoo!’s homepage features. Today’s moment of weakness was “What Men Think of Your Lipstick Color.”

Yeah, I know. I’m not exactly proud of myself, especially when it’s an obvious waste of my time when I have no inclination to change my style just to impress random men, and I’m also far too cheap and lazy to wear makeup anyway.

Even so, every once in a while, I come across one of those featured articles that unwittingly provides me with food for actual thought. Like Yahoo!’s coverage of E.L. James’ phenomena, Fifty Shades of Grey.

According to the site, that first book of a three-part series is about a “kinky anti-hero, billionaire Christian Grey [who] turns his good girl paramour Anastasia Steele into a submissive sex slave.” So not surprisingly, it’s unabashedly BDSM (bondage domination sadism masochism) material.

Written by a woman, it’s also huge hit with women, who apparently want to act out the scenes with their significant others… which leads to uncomfortable conclusions all on its own.

But I'll also confess to watching a third of “America’s Next Top Model: British Invasion” this morning (again, not proud of it). And between that, checking out the ridiculous lipstick review and learning about Fifty Shades of Grey, I really have to step back and take stock of my gender.

As women, we like talking about the women’s movement, the sexual revolution and gender equality. But judging by today’s booming porn industry – which largely caters to men – the oftentimes downright unhealthy fashion industry (Half of the heels I see women walking around in CAN NOT be comfortable, much less conducive to long-term happy feet!), and the Hollywood obsession with perceived feminine perfection, it seems that we women aren’t any more liberated than they we were a hundred and fifty years ago.

In fact, in some ways, we’re worse off. And worse yet, a decent half of the time, we’re just as guilty of propagating the perception of women as mere sexual objects.

What else can you call Tyra Banks and a bunch of 20-something American and British girls discussing their supermodel “superpowers” while prancing around in ridiculous capes like a bunch of five year olds?

How else can you explain the way the media overtly and underhandedly advises women how to conduct themselves to snag the opposite sex?

Is there another conclusion to come to when women have sent a book that subjugates its female character to willing sexual slavery straight to the top of the New York Times best seller list?

Judging by our actual actions, we’re just giving lip service to feminism. The actual meaning of the word has been dead for a long time. And we’re doing nothing to revive it.

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