Several weeks ago a picture of a Muslim woman, wearing a niqab, was floating around social media with the caption, ‘How does this make you feel?’ More recently, Kim Kardashian’s nude photo shoot with Paper Magazine has been making the rounds and the comments about each were two sides of the same coin.
While the objectification of women is nothing new, Kardashian is setting a dangerous new standard, not just for women, but for media. Ironically, Paper Magazine is an arts publication. It’s a magazine about and for artists, musicians, poets and the nightlife. It’s not a nudy mag, like Playboy or Penthouse, which have age requirements and are relegated to the back of the rack. It’s a mainstream magazine, which has set a precedent for other mainstream magazines to follow suit, or be left behind.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a prude. I think nudity can be art. I believe the photographer Jean-Paul Goude wanted to create an artful piece of work, but the subject – a seemingly, self-centered, arrogant, talentless, constantly-in-your-face-for nothing, spotlight seeking, self-important, starlet, evokes a lot of negative criticism and this latest work, is seen as nothing more than a feeble attempt for more attention and more publicity, while doing and contributing nothing to society, but furthering already impossible standards of beauty for women.
These photos propagate a pre-existing belief in many of her young followers that – I’m not good enough. We know these pictures aren’t real. There’s surgical breast augmentation, spray tan, hair extensions, make-up, lighting and where that fails – there’s post production computer modifications of an already modified body. There’s an elongated neck, legs, arms and torso, sliming of the waste, arms and thighs, and changes in color– all in the name of selling us an impossible ideal – the problem is, it doesn’t even matter if we know they aren’t real, we still fall for it every time.
We are set up to feel not good enough from a very young age. Even Disney is on the band wagon of selling impossible standards of beauty. Have you ever noticed that all Disney princesses are women whose wastes are the same size as their necks?
These impossible standards create a big problem for women, because none of us look like the images that society tells us are the standard of beauty, not even the models themselves. The closer you are to them the more confidence you feel and the more opportunities are available to you. The further away you are, the further away from beautiful you feel. This bases a woman’s value largely on her appearance, on an invisible f*ckability scale. The more desirable she is sexually to a man, the higher her worth. So it’s no wonder that women will go to great lengths to expose themselves, or why someone like Kim Kardashian, who lacks any artistic talent of any kind, can still hold celebrity status, entirely for where she sits on this scale.
The obvious fact is that women are smaller than men – in stature and strength. So, In order to level the playing field women had to find an arena where they could wield a form of power and control over men. Somewhere along the way, through exploitation, women figured out that they could do this through their sexuality. This mindset has evolved and deviated into the objectification of women, thus minimizing their worth to the extent of their desirability.
Considering that this behavior emerged to secure our survival, by luring the strongest or wealthiest male, it’s still heavily practiced today. Some may also argue that Kim isn’t being exploited, that she is a willing participant in this production and I would agree to a point. She didn’t create the concept, but it’s still a disrespectful practice and the ones that are truly being exploited, are her followers.
I’m not going to claim that I am a scholar of the Qur’an, but I’m not ignorant on the subject either. I have been pretty immersed in this culture for a while now, for research on another project. I’ve read many books, and I speak to Saudi women, Iranian women and Muslim women in India on a daily basis, so I understand this is a very sensitive topic for my Muslim readers and I hope you understand this is not necessarily an attack on Islam, but on an unfair and antiquated practice.
I live in a big city and I’d like to think that I’m open minded and forward thinking. But I have to be honest; when I see a woman in a niqab, it bothers me. It really bothers me and it has nothing to do with racism or security concerns. It has everything to do with the oppression of women and the fact that completely covering a woman from head to toe, with only her eyes showing, renders women invisible. It strips them of their identity and that is exactly its purpose.
The women I speak to, tell me that wearing these coverings is their choice, they wear it with pride and are given a lot of respect. Naturally I pushed them on this idea of choice, particularly my Saudi friend and their arguments are often circular:
What happens if you go out without wearing it?
You don’t go out without it.
Then it’s not really a choice then is it?
I chose to put it on and go out.
The prophet Muhammad said that women should be modest in their dress making sure that their bodies were covered. He did not say that they should be fully covered. He reserved that distinction only for his wives. So somewhere along the way this custom has evolved and become twisted as well. To be a true Muslim is to be a fundamentalist, this means that they believe in the literal translation of their religious doctrines. To us in the west, it looks like they are caught in the dark ages in behavior, belief and dress. To them, the people of the West look like Godless, corrupt heathens.
When I question Muslim women, who I deeply respect, about the doctrines of their Prophet, I am surprised by their reactions. They don’t want to talk about Muhammad – they fear talking about him and beg me to stop.
As a feminist I take particular offense to the Prophet Mohammad’s doctrines that:
A man is permitted to beat his wife if she is disobedient
A man may take many wives as long as he can afford them and can treat them equally.
A man can divorce his wife at any time for any reason.
A woman is intellectually inferior to a man.
A woman’s testimony is only worth half of a man’s.
Hell is full of mostly women because they don’t appreciate their husbands.
A woman has no say over her own body, a husband can rape his wife whenever he pleases.
Critics of Muhammad claim he didn’t follow the dictates he set down for others, believing he was exempt. They say he was a womanizer and a pedophile, at the age of 53 he married a 6 year old and consummated the marriage when she reached the age of 9.
Depending upon what Muslim country you live in, they will tell you that all of this is nonsense, they are treated very well by their husbands, they don’t get raped ect…. While this may be true in the vast majority of Muslim households, it is right there in the Qur’an. The fact is that power corrupts and Sharia law gives men this power over women, that most men don’t act on it is admirable, but to live under a law that doesn’t protect half of its citizens is frighteningly unfair.
Piety, purity and obedience are drummed into little Muslim girls from birth. Sexuality and sexual urges are deemed improper and the belief that women are responsible for men’s urges is at the heart of these unforgiving outfits. It puts the onus on women, making them responsible for men’s sexual thoughts and deeds. If a woman walks around in provocative clothing, in front of men whom she is not related to, she is inviting her own rape. This is why when we hear stories in the West about a Middle Eastern woman, who has been raped, she is shunned and sometimes killed by her own family for causing them shame. It is their belief that she was responsible for what happened and has disgraced her family. According to Sharia Law, a woman’s testimony is worth half of a man’s, so a victim will never be believed and is doubly punished, by the law and her own family.
Adultery is also a punishable offence to both men and women. While the male may receive a light punishment, or none at all – in some areas, the punishment for a woman is death.
These heavy penalties for women are meant to keep women obedient. This bring us back to the subject of choice. For many years I have wondered why Muslim women in North America continue to wear the hiqab, and even why women haven’t revolted in these countries and demanded equal rights, like our forbearers have in the West.
The answers are simple and complex at the same time. When one is born into a Muslim family there is no choice, no freedom of religion – you are a Muslim. Muslims for the most part believe in the literal translation of their religious doctrines. If Allah deems women inferior, then they are inferior – there is no questioning, no debate – just complete obedience. And this inferiority is drummed into little Muslim girls from birth. We know from our research on abusive households that codependency is bread in shame based environments, that treat children as objects, to be seen and not heard. Top all this off with the fact that the punishment for apostasy is death and it’s no wonder that Muslim women aren’t pushing for change and fiercely defend their way of life.
Choice is a great thing, something that we in the West cherish above all else, but sometimes it can go too far. Some envelopes don’t need to be pushed any further, especially when the consequences negatively affect us. While both cultures seem to objectify women in completely opposite ways, both extremes show us that as a gender we still have a lot of work ahead of us on our road to equality.
While this piece is a little different and a lot more controversial than what I normally post, it is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. My path has taken me from doormat to emotionally healthy to feminist to human rights activist. This week I am especially interested in your comments – men –women – Muslim and no
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Savannah, great article. I can’t really add anything to it.
I had a close friend who was Muslim and while she could convince me that not all Arabs or Muslims were terrorists she could not convince me women were equal to men in Islamic countries.
Really interesting responses so far. I’ve been reading posts here for awhile and reflecting in the last year about my past, my upbringing, my baggage and the narcissists and emotionally unavailable people I was drawn to up until around 30 (I’m in my early 40s now). I found myself here because I recently had an experience with a very abusive person which led me to research their behavior which then strangely connected me to information about narcissism. Finding this information basically solved the mystery of all the confusion of my past relationships (mixed signals, hot and cold friends and lovers, my people pleasing and insecurity and why I sought out partners like this). I’ve been free of and politely intolerant of abusive people for over ten years now but it’s been helpful to get to the heart of why I had these relationships in the first place, something I never really did. Accurately understanding narcissism and emotionally unavailable behavior has been so helpful- knowledge has been power for me. The point of this comment is to say that one main theme or problem I’ve recognized at the heart of my (and perhaps other’s) confusion about love, unavailable partners, body and self image, and extreme ideologies is this belief in things that are UNTRUE and this unwillingness or inability to see/accept/understand/seek out the TRUTH. It’s just so easy to be deceived by things in life and slap on our own, inaccurate definition of things without really getting it. I know I engaged in the idealization of things that were bad (thinking narcissists actually loved and respected me when they only loved my attention; that they were just scared, independent and “needed space” which my mother told me and is actually, I think the biggest pile of bs I’ve ever heard) and I engaged in pessimism about things which were good (I once doubted the innate value of myself just as I am; now I engage in no performing, no pleasing, no changing who I authentically am, just accepting myself exactly as I am and letting who I am unfold beautifully each day. I started this at 35 and it has been life changing). As I got older I prided myself on being an educated, savvy, logical, critical thinker but I was still vulnerable to what my feelings wanted to believe, hence getting sucked into dysfunctional relationships in my 20s. Instead of excavating my past and challenging my beliefs I held onto lies because they felt good and were comfortable and familiar. There was a part of me that was unwilling to look honestly and fearlessly at problems and I still struggle with this, but I’m getting better. So I think we need to keep talking, keep learning, keep challenging our sentimentalities and prejudices and supportively challenge those who might be stuck in their own head, unwilling to look critically at what they believe. Regarding religion- that’s another very complex topic- I’ll just say that I am very traditionally religious/spiritual; I came to my beliefs with great, heartfelt emotion but then later, logically and critically, worked my way honestly through doubt and questions and this has been very positive for me.
I’d like to respond to SassySusie’s“The reality is that men AND women BOTH understand that a loving relationship is only partly about sexual appeal, and much more about everything else.” True but who understands that?
Sex has been used as a weapon for centuries!
Many religions have tried to put reins on the power of sexual attraction, thus monogamy, polygamy, celibacy, no sex before marriage, chadors, arranged marriages, etc.. Many cultures glorified people who overcame their sexual urges and lived in celibacy, such as monks, priests, etc.
Mahatma Gandhi was married at the age of 13. He called himself a sex addict in his youth. In his later years, he chose celibacy that he thought was standing in the way of his spiritual growth. OK but we are not Gandhis.
Today’s religion is called Media and teaches us that sex is a must! Sex is a human right. Nobody can be denied sex. The more often you do it, the better! You like sex with the same gender, no problem! You don’t like the gender you were born with, no problem! If you are too old and your body can’t keep up with the demands of your partner, take Viagra! No problem! Just do not deny yourselves, or somebody else that wants it from you and thinks he/she is entitled to it. Got to do it, got to have it!
Germany is now working on their outdated moral law to change their code and decriminalise incest. Sibling incest in many countries is legal. Some of arguments are that sibling love can be as beautiful, fulfilling and happy or even better than some of the so called “normal” couple’s love. No doubt! But where does it end, I ask? Is it only moral law or is there a biological law? Biologically, having children from incest relationship brings high risk of genetic mutilation. How about pedophile pornography? Should we excuse them too as long as they physically don’t touch the weak ones? What’s the harm if they snap pictures of little kids? If that’s what makes them happy and satisfies their sexual urges?
Where do we stop and say, this is it! When do we stop and say: we are not changing old moral laws, we don’t revise ethics and human rights anymore because, maybe just maybe they are not so bad and maybe just maybe, we need moral boundaries? Maybe just maybe, we don’t want to put all the cultures and moral laws of this whole big world in a melting pot so it becomes one, regardless whether it’s good or bad, as long as it is the same. The same universal religion, the same universal freedom! No more stinky, old moral laws! And God forbid following any biological laws or law of Nature. We humans are the Gods now, we know better what we want and how we want it!
Sometimes I feel that SEX is this omnipotent God in today’s world, and people forgot what LOVE really is. That’s all!
I definitely have mixed feelings on this issue. I did like NarcRepellent’s summation that ‘men should not be ENTITLED to women’s bodies, EVER’, but I also think that it is as ridiculous to expect men to feel bad about THEIR natural sexual urges as it is for Muslim women to be shamed out of theirs.
Here is how I feel: Women’s bodies ARE beautiful and ARE sexually attractive to men, and they always WILL BE. Men are biologically designed to be attracted PHYSICALLY to us as a gender, with their preferences rooted in the health and shape of a woman most likely able to bear children. On the other hand, women are generally attracted to men who can best PROVIDE for her and her offspring, thus ensuring survival of the species. A woman is attracted to a powerful man because he is able to protect her and her offspring from danger. This used to mean strong and muscular, but as we have evolved it has changed to include men with access to money or assets regardless of their physical strength. DOES ANYONE ELSE BESIDES ME SEE A SIMILARITY HERE?? Men feel used when women beguile them with sex when all they really want is money, and women feel used when they feel valued by men only for their sexual appeal. The reality is that men AND women BOTH understand that a loving relationship is only partly about sexual appeal, and much more about everything else.
So back to the ‘objectification’ part of things, where the value of woman is based solely on her sex appeal: I believe that somehow along the way, our own expectations of ourselves became distorted toward the extreme. The sad part that I see is that we women objectify OURSELVES almost worse than men do! When, ladies, did we become so mean to ourselves? We complain about ourselves for our own imperfections, we criticize other women for their imperfections, and then we criticize them some more for taking drastic, unhealthy measures to ‘fix’ these ‘flaws’ that we crucified them for having!! Arrrgh!! Stop the madness!! We seem to think it is men that hate and objectify women and I am not saying there aren’t some pigs out there. But I do think there is merit in the controversial premise that women are more critical and hurtful to each other than men are to us.
In my everyday life, I do not hear many men complaining about our looks, or our bodies or expect more from us. They love the way we look!! They catcall us in sweatpants! I know that is supposed to be a bad thing, but look at it this way: they think we are freaking hot all the damn time!! I haven’t heard a single man criticize Kim Kardashian’s bountiful backside, her plastic surgery or anything else, but we sure do!! I also do not hear or see a lot of men who expect us to have a model’s body or their looks or who turn up their noses at our curves. Look, I know there are many women with heartbreaking stories of cruel words from men about their looks, but truly, most of the men I know are just incredibly excited they have access to our bodies, whatever they look like.
So how then, if women are at least in part to blame for their own objectification (in the civilized world), did we start down this slippery slope? My theory is that it began in the ‘I can have it all, be it all and do it all’ women’s movement of the 1960’s and 70’s. I believe that as it became more acceptable for women to be aggressive, competitive and essentially more male than ever before, we took some of this natural aggression and competition and turned it against other women, the exact same way men would fight off other men to obtain the woman. We started comparing ourselves to each other, and turned being sexually attractive to men into a competitive sport. Instead of empowering us as equals in the relationship/sex arena, we started using our sexuality as a weapon against each other in an attempt to secure male attention, which, as I mentioned earlier, we already had in enormous measure before our desperate attempt to whittle, tuck, suck and pluck our way into a man’s heart. Let me now sarcastically ask you all, ‘how’d that work out for y’all’??
I will also very seriously ask the question, ‘What can we as women do about this?’ I am certainly not an advocate of swearing off make up, attractive clothing or even plastic surgery, because as human beings we are designed to perceive beauty, and I believe we should feel beautiful. I am also not an advocate of us all becoming bitter old hags who deny our sexuality and contemptuously dare a man to want beauty. That is wrong too. I guess my thought is that extremes on either end destroy our true beauty, which our heart, kindness, spirit, smile, and energy comprise.
Of course, there ARE impossible standards that are portrayed in the media, and that is a bad thing. The problem is, I don’t believe that men have been the sole creators of that. I believe we women had as much or more to do with it.
@sassysusie: No where in this post did it say anything about men needing to feel ashamed about their sexual urges.
Savannah, Savannah, Savannah….I get it…Me thinks I take things too personally…there is a source for the anger these women feel…and it comes out….I’m a married man and my perspective is a different when it comes to women, and men, having rights to their own bodies..and no..I am not espousing marital rape….I am saying that marriage comes with expectations and those expectations, when unmet, can lead to the marriages dissolution…But one of my wife’s expectations, and every woman’s rightfully so, is that I am kind and do not take her for granted….fair enough….I won’t go into my expectations….suffice it to say though that yeah…no one has a God given right to anybody else’s person….man or woman….so I get it….thank you Maam.
As a male victim of a woman with NPD, I will say that I appreciate much more now how it feels to be objectified. To realize I was little more than three dimensional porn for this sick person, that her expressions of “love” were cleverly mirrored covers for selfish needs, makes me really sick now. I realize full well that in the broader scheme this problem is much more commonly experienced by women, and that women are encouraged to play to this aspect of male sexuality and thereby participate in their own degradation. But I wanted to say I know how ugly and used this makes you feel. I get it. Yuck. I cannot completely withdraw from this society which celebrates narcissism and rewards it in many ways. But I can stage my own personal hard-fought dissent from it. My personal pain at being treated like a sex toy (without really understanding it at the time) has taught me that. This is often a women’s issue, but it’s always a human issue.
Well, well, well… a topic that is an ocean to talk about. Controversial for sure and you are a brave woman Savannah!
NarcRepellant got it right calling Hollywood a machine. Machine it is indeed! However, this machine is not really an imposed on us system; it is created and supported by us. If nobody would buy their productions, nobody would worship their celebrities, they would be gone long time ago. We love this gender brain washing custom tailored to us.
Kathy said she blames her fundamentalist Christian family for setting her up for Narc co-dependence. And the key word here is fundamentalism.
I’ve recently read books about Iran, Gandhi, Stalin, Hitler, war in former Yugoslavia, etc. I grew up in a communist country and live now in North America and often compare women’s feminism in different cultures.
There is a real biological difference between a female and a male. Feminism or not. Religion or not. Female is a female, male is a male.
We’re mammals, and we differ from other species that we have, what some people call souls, some call conscience, or ego, superego. Anyway, we don’t live by bare instincts and facts. We think and we want to get more of life than survival.
Men are physicall a weaker kind of the human species. They don’t live as long, they can’t bear as much physical pain, though they picture themselves as such. But they are smarter. While thousands years ago, the prehistoric woman was busy raising the offspring, the men were smart to set a social system that would be good for them, that would help them to survive. Therefore, the male dominated cultures were built in different parts of the world. And throughout the ages, while women were either pregnant or breastfeeding they males went out and about and perfected the male dominated world.
I think that the birth control was the best thing that humanity came up with. While it’s not perfect and like anything else that humans invented to improve the Nature, it freed the women from being nothing but the childbearing instrument.
While, I am really traditional and I am totally against reversing the traditional model of families when a woman is a main child caregiver, I am happy that we have now more choices for our lives and don’t have to limit myself to being pregnant and delivering babies by dozens. I strongly believe that there is a reason for God or Nature, whatever the name, that it created the human species the way it did. Maternal instinct that was bestowed on woman kind, as much as it can be a course at times, is a wonder that only a woman has. None of the paternal instincts can ever make up for the mother’s natural instincts of protecting and cherishing the life she was given. I know, there are rare cases but…
The feminism movement is a great thing but it kind of turns against the maternal instincts. The men are not catching up to it. They still want to be special and now they expect us to do everything what their mothers did plus what feminists showed them they can do. Women at work? Sure, then a men doesn’t have to be a bread winner, he can come home, have supper on the table and watch sports on TV while his woman helps the kids with homework, clean the dishes, and preps her work presentation for the next day.
There is going to be a few generations till this really changes. I can see more and more young fathers pushing a stroller, carrying diaper bags straps while carrying a baby in a car seat. But that doesn’t mean that they totally switched and took over the mother’s role. Then their wives would complain that she comes from work and baby’s diaper was so full that it could walk on their own because the guy forgot to check it. Or kids didn’t eat because they weren’t hungry because they didn’t ask for food.
I could probably go on for hours as this topic really strikes a sensitive string.
You see, I don’t feel sorry for a Muslim woman covered from head to toes in black walking in plus 40 Celsius with her man walking by her side in light colored short sleeve shirt in the summer in the park where I live. If she is not hot and she accepts this than fine! Her choice! In North America, majority of women don’t do that! Nobody will persecute her, put in jail, regard her testimony worth only half of her husbands! Darn it! If she doesn’t understands that! If she insists on living her own way, why on earth did she leave her country? At least there, she would be majority!
I am an immigrant myself and I always say, I can say these things because I live where I want to. I didn’t like communism and left the country that had a sick political system. When I came here, I discovered that democracy is not as healthy system as I thought, that politics are politics and can twist any system, any religion, anything Nature law but democracy gives you a choice. You take your own choice or you don’t. If your happy with the values you had engraved in you by other cultures, then fine!
I’m not excusing choices to not leave, but just saying that it is VERY DIFFICULT when go against your entire culture and support system. I know. I did it.
Girl did you say men are smarter than women????? I don’t know about your house, but I run intellectual circles around my meathead brothers…..that is totally false. One of my brother’s has such a high tolerance for pain you never hear him complain about anything, so there’s a few things in here that I don’t totally agree with.
Your points are excellent. Your conversation with the Muslim, very revealing. Narcs are disgusting predators who take advantage of a Woman’s natural nurturing instincts. I learned about your site from a friend who dealt with a classic narc…his game was detectable from a mile away…but only if you were looking for it….most women do not, and as such, get caught up. She read your site and it empowered her to change and she left him in his muck. Muslims are a whole different story though. I will say that sometimes it is disappointing to read some of the rather harsh invective levied at men by your readers. I understand their anger, but not their desire to generalize there distaste for one type of man, as a judgement against all men. But…being a member of a minority group, I understand…I just think it is unfortunate.
I’m glad that your friend found the courage to leave her abuser. I love to hear success stories. I wouldn’t say my site is full of man haters though. I think when women tell their stories about the pain and suffering they endured it’s natural to feel anger – it is part of the healing process and I hope it’s specific to one type of man. Very often when you date an abuser, the next one seems to be an abuser and the next one – so you end up dating the same man over and over again. I can see in this scenario where one might start to believe that all men were bad, but I wouldn’t say that is the opinion of most people that comment.
you lost me at “a seemingly, self-centered, arrogant, talentless, constantly-in-your-face-for nothing, spotlight seeking, self-important, starlet” That comment is not feminism; it is hate.
One doesn’t have to love every woman and everything every women does to be a feminist, especially not one whom I think causes a lot of harm.
It’s not unrelated at all. It speaks to my life. I was raised in a fundamental Christian family–aside from not taking multiple wives and not condoning physical abuse and violence, it was very much like the Muslim culture. Yes, that is one big piece that prepared me for being ABLE to live with a Narcissist for 26 years. I could write a lot more about it, but that will be for another time.
LOVE this post and can’t wait to see more comments.
Regarding Kim Kardashian, what angers and saddens me more is the fact that we live in a society where she felt the need and pressure to surgically augment herself so drastically — emphasis on drastic.
I do think that plastic surgery can do wonderful things for people: People that have suffered from terrible accidents or are the victim of a crime, were born were deformities, been stricken with illness — the science behind it can really help and change someone’s life and their health, and I’m glad this branch of medicine exists.
As far as doing it for vanity, I do understand that as well. If a woman is say, dissatisfied with how her breasts have changed after childbirth, for instance, and wants to get them lifted or get implants, more power to you.
But in Kim’s case, her surgery has been excessive and she is unrecognizable from how she looked ten years ago.
There was absolutely, totally nothing wrong with her, at all. She was always beautiful. I even liked how she didn’t look like everyone else in Hollywood. Now that she’s had surgery, she looks: #1) Less Armenian; #2) Like a completely different person, almost like JLo.
In Kim’s case, I’m sure the machine that is Hollywood has a huge part in this. As she became more famous, it seems she was less and less satisfied with how she looked naturally and got more and more surgeries. LA is the one of the most unkind cities to women, in my opinion, for impossible beauty standards, and the film and TV industry is much more cruel to women than men. (See how many female stars get procedure after procedure and fight so damn hard to not age).
As for your post on wearing the hiqab, I actually have a question for your Muslim friends: Do they still get catcalled and unwanted hit-ons and solicitations, in their native countries and here in the West, while wearing one? I have never been to Saudi Arabia but I will bet money that women there still get catcalled and harassed while wearing it,but perhaps in more subtle ways, and here’s why:
Catcalling (which really is sexual harassment), rape, all sex crimes — are about POWER and have nothing to do with sex. Men do it to exert power over us.
Did you see that video that went viral a few weeks ago, showing a woman walking for 10 hours in New York City? She wore a crewneck shirt and jeans, and she was catcalled, harassed and followed by about 100 men. In my experience (and I live in a big city, as well), I seem to get catcalled the most when I am covered head to toe in sweatpants and a turtleneck and have no make up on and feel like crap.
My point: It has NOTHING to do with what we are wearing or what we are doing, which is what making women wear a hiqab is telling us: That the onus is on us (women) when it is not and should not be on us. It teaches women and men that men have absolutely no cognitive skills and will rape and harass if “tempted” because that is their biological predilection to do so — not only is this bullshit, this is a dangerous thing to teach both sexes!
We have this problem in the West, too, with victim-blaming. Women who complain of being catcalled are asked what they were wearing when it happened or why they were walking alone. Rape victims are degraded by the police and our court system feels that whether you were drinking, what your sexual history is and where you were when you were assaulted are all relevant, when it is not.
Here’s a radical thought: How about instead of telling women what to wear, to cover themselves up, to “not provoke” men with what we wear and that sexual harassment and assault is OUR fault, let’s teach men that they ARE NOT ENTITLED TO WOMEN’S BODIES, EVER, and that women are equal??????!!!
Thank you for reading my rant.
NarcRepellent, Yes, you are right, it wasn’t directly stated that men should be ashamed of their sexual urges. I guess what I mean is that when we women feel upset by the objectification of our gender, are we implying that men should supress the desire to look at a female simply because he is attracted to her physical form? I don’t have the answer, I am actually very confused and bugged by this issue. I can’t seem to wrap my head around what is ‘right’ or ‘okay’ with regard to this because as a woman i enjoy being found attractive to men. It makes me feel good, but then I worry it is ‘wrong’ to like feeling that way. I do not, however, enjoy feeling like I am useful ONLY as ‘arm candy’ or to serve as an appendage to someone. I very much enjoy feeling valued for my intellect or compassion too. As I said in my rant, I believe we all want to be seen for ALL the facets that comprise us, and our physical attractiveness is only a small part of that.
As a fatherless, uncherished girl, men’s opinions of me (in all ways) have had far too much importance in my life, and I have done a lot of inner work to heal that and am feeling better about myself than I ever have in my life and I would like nothing more than to see other women start feeling better about themselves too.
Sassysusie I hope this piece doesn’t make you feel guilty for being attractive or for enjoying male attention. That certainly wasn’t my intent. If however, this is how you obtain your self-esteem (via external validation) then that is a problem. What I was trying to convey was that a) a woman’s worth in society is largely based on her desirability and that it has an expiry date. Men don’t have an expiry date – they are still considered sexy as they age – look at George Clooney, Sean Connery and that guy from NCIS – society still views them as sex symbols. b) Muslim women are held 100% responsible for men’s urges. Muslim men believe this and so their cure for that is to cover every bit of women from head to toe. As if they couldn’t possibly control their own urges. Of course women have beautiful sexy bodies, but to suggest that men can’t control themselves is ridiculous. I’m reading a book called Infidel by Aayan Hirsi Ali and she says when she took off her coverings and stepped outside in Holland for the first time, she was stunned because no one was looking at her, no one was overcome with uncontrollable lust as she was taught – people/men just ignored her and went about their day. You are very correct that women seem to be their own worse critics, because many view other women as competition – that is exactly what I’m talking about – our sexuality is far more important than anything else – intelligence, artistic ability… in western culture if you quizzed a bunch of 12 year old girls what would you rather do 1, Find a cure for a disease 2. Compose a classical piece of music 3.Be a professional athlete or 4. Be a model – I bet 9 of 10 would want to be a model. This is what we value as a society, both men and women. Men have value that exceeds their appearance – that’s where the inequality exists.
@sassysuzie: Ah that’s right, we’ve both discussed on this blog how we were both uncherished children, and I now see what you are saying. I too have had approval issues (with everyone) and attracted and dated mainly narcissistic men who had the same traits as my Narc mother.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that it IS nice to receive attention from men that I WANT to receive attention from. Unwelcome come-ons and catcalling is not attention that I appreciate, but we as women are taught that this harassment should be taken as a compliment, which makes my head explode.