If an issue actually exists and it is of concern to you, the first steps towards resolution is to take a look at your personal actions as you go about life and how they might actually create that to which you object.
I had hoped as a society we were moving on in terms of gender conflict and specifically the blame game so strongly pushed by feminist socio-political theory of the 1970-2000’s. I look around my immediate environment and I see my children’s generation (20-30) getting back to the basics of the human population, society and community. Having children (more than one) and attempting to act as family units instead of the self centred excesses of the cult of the autonomous individual superwoman juxtaposed with women always the hapless victim being done to! An era which denigrated men as individuals (responsible for all the ills in our world), as fathers (superfluous and worse) and as teachers (paedophiles in waiting); an era that has seen boys ignored in education with a resulting increase in violence and prison populations. At the same time women have indeed proved and enabled ‘girls can do anything’ as an ever increasing number of females feature in all areas considered by society as negative.
My computer at today’s start-up trots out, through MSN, the following article, ‘Is Body Love Missing the Point‘ by Nicole Elphick-Cleo Magazine-Monday, June 7, 2010.
The article had some very valid and reasonable points along with taking personal ownership of the issues.
“It can also help to put greater emphasis on the other values in our lives. When were the times you felt best about yourself? Was it laughing hysterically with your friends, achieving a much deserved work promotion, or travelling around the globe?
Ironically, it’s when we spend the least time thinking about our bodies — and stop focusing on that one tiny element out of the thousands that make us who we are — that we truly accept all aspects of ourselves.
Says Maguire, “I’d like to see women celebrating their bodies for what they can do: things like run, hike, have sex, grow and give birth to new people, fight fires, perform delicate surgical procedures, and build houses. I’d also like to see women celebrated for all their other qualities: intelligence, perseverance, creativity, integrity, heroism, kindness and so on.
Letting go of the idea that how I looked mattered more than what I thought or did has made a far bigger difference to me than years and years of reassurances that I was ‘pretty’…(Emily Maguire, author of Your Skirt’s Too Short: Sex, Power, Choice…)
….Although feminism has won us so much in the way of equal rights to things like education, work and pay, we really haven’t evolved much in terms of how we think about and contextualise ourselves beyond the physical,” Bartle explains.”
I read ‘we’ as women/feminists actually taking personal responsibility…but then both Maguire & Bartle lapsed into superficial rhetoric trotted out by the ‘sisterhood’ for way too long.
“Historically, women have been valued according to their appearance because the patriarchy [at the time] deemed we were pretty things that should be seen and not heard,” says media commentator, blogger and regular CLEO contributor Erica Bartle (girlwithasatchel.blogspot.com).”
“As a society, we have yet to break free of the ancient, patriarchal view of women as decorative objects and status symbols for their male partners,” Maguire says.”
The short version is that there is no patriarchy or any unified block of male power to which women must always be on the alert for and take action against. There is no universal subjugated position for women, dominated by the above mythical collection called patriarchy. Western feminist ‘intellectuals’, generally well paid in privileged jobs in academia, have co-opted the plight of working class and third world women as their own as they rail for their own positions of greater privilege and status while ignoring the obvious issue that all the people (men and women) of the working, unemployed and third world classes are far below them on the ‘haves’ totem pole.
The longer version…
In terms of our western society, I am all for extending the feminist social/sexual role revolution with regards what is valued in human relating, most particularly if this was to actually produce some honest self reflection between the sexes. What have we to loss? At its best we could develop honest and respectful relating?
The article’s assertions that the objectification of women and the obsessions with female beauty all centres on some patriarchal impeditive is glib at best. There is no universal block of men living in some elevated status called ‘the patriarchy’ lording it over women.
For individuals, both sexes are trapped in their gendered roles to greater or lesser degrees, by forces that are society based but are further embedded in biology or ‘survival of the species’.
There is strong evidence that female beauty, or at least some physical assessment (objectification) is actually viewed as external ‘evidence’ of fertility. Quite obviously the criteria for beauty are somewhat individual and absolutely relative to the respective social ‘status’ of each individual seeking to negotiate a potential relationship. For instance would any of the women contributing to the article know the name of their rubbish man much less view him as a potential mate for life?
Despite ‘liberation’, men are absolutely still accorded the status of ‘walking wallets’ and/or lifters of heavy objects. Financial status in society is absolutely connected to the age old requirement for men to be the provider and protector.
In New Zealand, if not elsewhere in the western world, women now outnumber men as graduates at every level of tertiary education. Do these same female graduates then marry ‘down’ or do they on average still seek to marry ‘up’? The evidence for at least marrying the same and higher status is the ever widening economic gap between households in western society. Something that was at least minimised with the cross education/economic class excursions by men ‘objectifying’ women. A Hollywood portrayal of this would be Pretty Woman.
At the same time any discussion of the ‘evils’ of the patriarchy men objectifying women must account for the modern (?) phenomenon of women objectifying men in the physical sense in all manner of publications and clearly evident by routine banal objectification conversation amongst women.
What if objectification (i.e. lust or longing) is actually just a universal human condition, making sure we continue the species?
Equally if holding to the idea that all this is a social construct (made up by society) and driven by the media, then clearly the benefitting body called the patriarchy men will not solve the issue.
As a start point for concerned women subscribing to the social construct idea, I would suggest looking at every contribution that the self makes to the situation; be this the fluttering of the eye lids because you need your car wheel changed; or as you refuse conversation with the undereducated and low waged labourer; or as female editors and magazine owners who continue to contribute to the cult/age of celebrity and the body beautiful.
The biological urge makes more sense and then the issue becomes one of acceptance and tolerance for being a human being, with modification and laws for the dangerous excesses of whomever regardless of sex gender.