Sunday, April 10, 2016

Feminism in these modern times

Sex in advertisements.

Which is why there was that woman on the sidewalk by a major thoroughfare, holding a sign for fundraising via car-wash.

No, just because it is a woman holding a sign I would not conclude that "sex sells."  But I would because of the clothing that she had on her.  Shorty-shorts that made sure that her legs were all exposed.  And then the skimpy bikini-bra-top that barely contained her big breasts.

We were stopped at the traffic light and she walked like a sex kitten waving the sign.

"Why don't you put a shirt on?" a voice rang out from the waiting vehicles.  The voice sounded friendly, as in a constructive and engaging tone.  Perhaps a middle-aged woman's voice.

I turned to the left, which is where the voice came from.  It was a pick-up truck that had a female driver and an older female passenger.  The passenger was beginning to roll up the window.  I suppose after voicing their thoughts, they were done.

"Am good" the sign-carrying woman replied, with a smile and with a thumbs-up from her free hand.

"A shirt might help" the voice rang out again from the truck.  The woman on the street smiled again.

The light turned green.

The two cars ahead of me kept going straight.  I read the sign that she was holding as I passed her.  I was curious what the fundraising was for.  For ladies football!

As I passed her, I kept watching the traffic in the rear to see if any car turned towards the car-wash.  None.  I was happy that sex does not sell.  At least, not all the time.

We live in strange times.  On the one hand, we have made enormous progress and have largely moved away from acting on our primal, animal instincts.  We don't beat the crap out of somebody when we disagree, and we don't sexually assault another.  Well, mostly.  This kind of a healthy progress has created the space for people to be what they want to be and say what they want to say.  Mostly.  But, this freedom, the progress, now means that a woman can be practically semi-nude on a city sidewalk in the middle of the day.  Is such an element of sexuality a good thing or a bad thing?

That's practically the question that The Economist also addresses in reviewing two books, which are about the troubling aspects of young girls, their sexuality, and modern technology:
That young women often aspire to be titillating should not be surprising given that the most successful female celebrities often present themselves as eye-candy for the male gaze. “Everybody wants to take a selfie as good as the Kardashians’,” says Maggie, a 13-year-old. 
"If you've got it, flaunt it!" has become "normal" behavior.
 [Unlike] past feminists, who often protested against their sexual objectification, many of today’s young women claim to find it empowering. “There are few times that I feel more confident about my body than when I wear a crop top and my boobs are showing and my legs are showing,” says Holly, a college student. “I never feel more liberated.”
This hardly seems like progress, particularly when only certain bodies, those that are sexy to men, are allowed to be a source of pride.
As the review notes, "For anyone raising a daughter, these books do not make for easy reading."  Not easy materials even for us worrywarts who are all done with raising a daughter.


Mike Hoth said...

Feminism is a movement that has changed more rapidly than perhaps any other during my lifetime. The Republican party may have shifted faster, and look where that has gotten them; splitting in two over two very different yet eerily similar angry white men. Movements like feminism have run into the same issue, where some radicalize and others back off. Some argue that using the female body as a sales method is dehumanizing, but the models and prostitutes of the world decry such arguments as an unfair limitation on women.

Like all things we humans discuss, nobody actually agrees on anything!

Ramesh said...

Its hardwired into our genes. The other side of it are all the men who pump iron in the gym.

I don't think its all a bad thing as long as nobody is forced to do anything. After all you could have pretty much written the same post even if she had a shirt on.

By the way, shame on you for not turning. Whatever you may think of the advertising, surely ladies football deserves every support in the US. If its "soccer" and I hope it was, you are the world champions and you have done so much to make it such a beautiful game . And because there's no professional league , there's no money in the game. I would have turned, girl or not.

Sriram Khé said...

Discussions are needed. Discussions do not mean that the discussants have to reach an agreement. Especially on such important issues.
I do not imply that there has to be any limit placed on what women (or men) can wear in the public. But, as with everything else, including the post for tomorrow, my concern is that we do not seem to consciously think about what we do, which is a reflection of not consciously thinking through what we want in--and out of--life.

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