Opinion: modern women, sex and opression

I am aware that men serve as “market niches” through video games, car branding and sports attire. Men also suffer from the beauty myth (introduced by Naomi Wolf), which ventures more muscle, cleanliness, manliness and other related bullshit. However, I would like to speak about women (oh, how ironic!).

After reading some Naomi Klein, I am faced with the reality of women’s history and culture. History records that suffragettes fought against prejudices, against the role of women as heir-making machines and flower-like creatures. Women were unable to make any substantial pay or contribute to political opinion for centuries. Noble women had to work hard to give birth to a baby boy in order to deliver a heir to the throne. Working class women also had to work hard to give birth to a baby boy in order to have someone continue a father’s business. Basically, both types of women fought for representation.

But, does the new, free world recreate powerless women?

I think that women are still very much heir-making machines and flower-like creatures. To take the pressure off the gender stereotype of a man as the job holder and the woman as the child bearer, women are now exploited as sexual objects. This means that they are still only good for sexually pleasing purposes.

Women are on the cover of porn magazines and are the fixed frame of any pornography film, women get slimmer and spend more money on looking good, women consume birth control like it is the end of the world. Some women still look at pregnancy as a way to fix a marriage.

Today, it seems that the only body women are fighting with is their own body, their own self (mentally and physically). The Hollywood industry, along with the diet and makeup industry, takes advantage of this and  persuades women to find something wrong with themselves, so that they can spend money. And so we have identity politics.

What women (and men to a certain degree) are currently facing is a mono-culture of beauty and body image, where insecurities are a market share. The culture industry manages to find newer ways to promote beauty and health products. Brands of “all natural” products hit the shelves, still filled with the same wrinkle-reducing or wrinkle-covering chemicals. Appetite suppressants, after causing some heart attacks and other illnesses, are finally doomed ineffective and are re-introduced in the form of at-home yoga training videos and pole-dancing hype. Fat-free dressings and sweeteners, full of aspartame and sucralose (likely found to cause cancer), only re-enforce hunger instead of suppressing it.

Symbols of feminine radicalism aren’t up for sale at DrugMart or Walmart. What will women do without lingerie, revealing dresses, sex toys, contraception and lip botox? Aren’t these symbols only still alienating women as fragile, sexual, pretty objects?

All of these components seem to make a modern woman. A modern woman is funky, she does not need a man to pleasure her, or to compliment her, or to make money for her. The modern woman has a car, a house and education. However, the modern woman doesn't leave her house without make up and jewellery (and a new outfit) and doesn’t spend a day not feeling “fat” or “ugly” at one point or another.

The bottom line is that women are as oppressed as ever and are suffering from some sort of oppression nostalgia. Maybe the world was better for a peasant woman, who used beets for makeup and was too poor to care for a diet when all that was available was bread. Maybe the world was better for a princess with favoured servants and carriages and not much else to do than gossip, drink tea and offer her body to the king whenever he wanted it. Women fit into tight and oppressed spaces then, but don’t they fit into similar spaces now, too?

The difference is that these spaces are now more creative, more imaginary and more expensive. They must utilize the money women now make more efficiently. But, how much different is a life-long fight for votes among our grandmothers and the life-long fight with body image issues and sexual performance insecurities among girls of this generation? A successful woman is still assumed to be sleeping with her boss, a thin girl is assumed to be sexually attractive and living a good sex life, and an unattractive woman is probably deemed a virgin, or at least carries the label of “unwanted”.

Everything ties back to sex and baby-making; the delicacy and fragility of women’s culture.

Furthermore, some women are still put into work spaces and do duties that are labelled feminine, much like the women who sewed uniforms or worked as nurses during the two world wars.

Do lounges hire male servers? No, because they sell sex through short skirts and breast-revealing tops. Do modeling houses hire curvy models? Not often, because clothes don’t sell on bulging fat. And if they do, its a REVELATION! Would a higher-end pornography company hire an overweight or ethnic woman? It surely happens, but it does not happen often, because such women don’t fit the American beauty stereotype and don’t appeal to the standardized fantasy men and women are taught to have. Does being homosexual serve to be as socially acceptable for a woman as being homosexual for a man? Likely, but homosexuality in women is highly glamourized and appeals to some sort of modern polygamous fantasy.

Of course, there are always exceptions to all of the statements made in this blog post. Through evolution, or some other cause, women have grown to be naturally thinner and maybe even taller. There are also many women whose looks have nothing to do with their success.

However, women need to recognize the changes between the old world and the new world. Before, they might have been oppression by men, but now, they are oppressed by more beautiful women.


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