“Equality is not a concept. It’s not something we should be striving for. It’s a necessity. Equality is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth as men and women, and the misogyny that is in every culture is not a true part of the human condition. It is life out of balance, and that imbalance is sucking something out of the soul of every man and woman who’s confronted with it. We need equality. Kinda now.” – Joss Whedon
There are too many articles, images, and beliefs nowadays that equality is still just a concept. An idea in the development stages that could have the potential to grow into something more substantial.
However, this isn’t a mindset that continue any longer. It is outdated, and it has little to no relevance in today’s society which has already developed so much so that we understand how necessary it is to be equal.
Feminism and campaigns such as He for She speak legions for people around the world who feel unequal and devalued among the greater community. Now there is a lot that I could cover regarding this topic of equality, but again I want to look at it from the point of view of feminism. I can’t openly say that I ever thought that I would identify as a feminist and I still can’t fully commit to that title, however I do have quite strong feelings in regards to many of the issues and opinions that are being brought up on an almost daily basis at the moment.
So let’s think of some recent “controversies” shall we?
- Lady Gaga’s “stomach” at the Super Bowl
- Emma Watson’s “nude” photo scandal
- Fifi Box’s undercover experiment.
Now, if you don’t know what I’m talking about in the last point, don’t worry, I will get to it and explain it. But let’s quickly look at the first two “controversies” first. Notice how I’m not wanting to agree that this is what they are because honestly, these were simply two points that the media decided to drag through the mud and label with titles such as outrageous and scandalous.
There is nothing outrageous about a woman with curves wearing a short shirt.
There is nothing scandalous about a tastefully implied nude art photo.
And yet, once the media sparks the fire, the flames spread for miles.
As I’m sure everyone is aware, Lady Gaga was criticised for her appearance during the Super Bowl this year because of apparent body issues. And the issue at hand was her stomach making more of an appearance than some could seemingly handle. Now, I look at Lady Gaga and think that she looks like a real woman. She has curves, perhaps a few bumps and lumps here and there, she’s not been afraid to go barefaced in public. I’m not a Lady Gaga fan personally, but I have paid attention to what she does and how confidently she carries herself and how she stands up for what she believes in. Yet all it takes is a single performance for thousands to rise up and shamelessly talk crap about her. They start saying that she’s not a good role model, they start saying that she should leave important issues to people who actually understand them, they say that she’s just a singer and what would she know about anything.
But what is the one thing that they use as the crux of their arguments?
Her body image.
In the days following her performance, I saw numerous comments that would go like this:
“A woman with a body like that can’t preach to this generation, they can’t learn from a fat s***”
“This is what she wears when she performs? Whatever happened to the Lady Gaga that cared about the world?”
“If she didn’t want us to talk about it, she should have put a shirt on. Look how fat she is!”
Every single argument came back down to her body image, as though that was what defined her as a woman.
Now, I’ve worn pairs of jeans that initially make my body look flawless, but then of course, you move around and your hips pop back out to say hello. It’s natural movement. Does this mean that I am overweight or out of shape? No. Does it make me any less of a woman? No. Does it mean I can’t go out in public or voice my opinions? No.
Body image does not directly affect who you are as a person, so why is it used as the basis for argument and judgement? And more importantly how is it allowed to be used as that?
Moving along to the next controversy in recent media. Emma Watson’s “topless” photo for Vanity Fair that sent people into a frenzy that began questioning whether a woman with her image could now be an advocate for feminism.
It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my tits have to do with it. It’s very confusing.” – Emma Watson
Now, looking at those photos, they are nothing terribly out of line. They are not graphic or obscene in any way, shape or form. They are not distasteful and instead are quite artistically and fashionably portrayed in my eyes because in fact, you don’t see much of anything obscene at all. Now, if we flipped the scales and an out-spoken Hollywood male pose for a shirtless photo-shoot, or even – as many of them do – take part in an underwear advertisement, the media would only bring to your attention how attractive the photos were. Somehow though, women can’t do the same without being told that their own image is degrading them and therefore it denies them the right to be a strong personality.
So, I’ll move onto my last point. The two above points in particular have been dragged through the mud and talked over more than enough that I don’t believe I need to dwell on them forever to get my point across, so let’s instead look at something that was a little bit closer to home.
Now, I don’t know what sort of audience is reading this post so I’ll break it down a little bit. I currently live in Melbourne and one of the radio stations here (Fox FM) have recently been conducting a social experiment where one of their hosts transforms her looks to take on a different identity and find love. However, you’d think it were an experiment about self-esteem considering the distinct lack of attention toward finding love which they broadcast-ed. Every time that I heard this segment on the radio, all that I heard from the host was how damaging it was that her looks were not her own and how no one could possibly love her because she had a little bit more weight than usual, she had pale skin, and was a brunette with a larger nose. Her frequent complaining centred around how no man could possibly love her looking like this. Additionally, any of the audio taken from the men’s opinions of her only aired how they didn’t like her appearance; there was next to no mention of her personality and what they thought of that.
So I took a look at myself while I was sitting there in my car listening to this shamble of an experiment.
I had brunette hair and a larger nose. I have pale skin. I definitely have areas on my body that are a little flabby or not as toned as I like.
Was I therefore doomed to never find someone who loved me? All of these physical aspects against me in a world where no one wants to take two seconds to get to know me beyond my assets. However, this couldn’t be the case because thankfully I’m in a relationship where my other half can actually appreciate me for who I am far beyond how I look. He’s seen me looking amazingly glamorous and also when I’m at my worst when I’m ill or crying and am convinced that I look like some sort of ugly combination between a toad and a puffer-fish with a dash of potato. But the looks don’t matter; my personality counts for so much more. My interests, hobbies, opinions and aspirations all define me who I am as a person. Anyone who wants to attack me on the basis that, perhaps I’m showing too much of my midriff or that my thighs wobble slightly, and therefore I can’t say that I’m an opinionated individual who cares about certain issues, must have their own insecurities to make those accusations.
The main problem here is that, we are almost allowing ourselves to be degraded to the lowest point because we are in a society where we feel so pressured by the need to appeal to people within a split second by how we look, and if our look is what defines us then our words and beliefs fall by the wayside.
But it shouldn’t. There is no more difference between us showing our assets and speaking out than there is from a man doing the exact same thing. But due to age old beliefs and traditions, the woman is supposed to sit quietly and agree with the greater opinions established by males of hierarchy. Which is unfortunately why figures like wonderful President Donald Trump can make comments about grabbing women by the p****.
So where is our voice? Why do we not get to have a voice in the liberated society that we live in? We are living in a time where people are more entitled to raise their voice and we’ve come a long way from the gender inequality of times past and yet, somehow, we’re still failing to let women speak because their assets should be what defines them.
Plain and simple, no.
I will go out to work in an outfit where perhaps a hint of cleavage is showing. But this does not mean that I am trying to get attention, this does not mean that I am not intelligent, this does not mean that I can be degraded for showing skin.
I will pole dance because I do it for fitness and I do it for my own personal self-improvement. Not because I want to be a stripper or because I want men to watch me. But it doesn’t automatically mean that I have a lack of brain cells or I have no awareness of what is going on in society around me.
My image and what I choose to wear does not change my beliefs, it does not change my actions, it does not define my intelligence. Just like how a man can be shirtless and still earn a lot of money, and still speak of worldly issues and not be berated for that.
We need equality. We need it now. We need to stop acting how the layers of clothes we wear define how much we are allowed to talk about. Yes, our image is important, but it is important to us alone, not the outside society. Body image and equality are two very separate issues that have no purpose being joined and scrutinised together.
We need to learn how to divide the two and progress forward seeing each other as equals.
“If not me, who? If not now, when?” – Emma Watson