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Our Mothers, Wives, Sisters, and Daughters: The Feminism Debate, Part 1

December 27, 2014

When I first set foot on the campus of Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, majoring in Human Development and Family Science, I knew I was getting into a degree field that was dominated by women; but when I attended my first few classes I got an eye-opening reality check of just how dominated it was.

My classes had an average of 60+ students, and nearly every class had an average of six to ten guys, and 50+ females. When we got into our debates during class it didn’t take long for me to understand that I, more times than not, understood what my female classmates were trying to say when they brought out valid points of view.

Why was that? Did I have some sort of enlightened view point?

There were a few misguided notions of men having a feminine side, but what I soon discovered was that my views were simply the product of, not only having been raised by a strong woman, but also the fact that I had 4 sisters (3 brothers), a wife (2 sons), and a daughter.

My experiences during those years helped to define what I now know is my fully accepted perspective as a supporter of feminist concerns.

I didn’t agree with my classmates simply because I wanted the women to like me; I really understood why women had so many issues with a male dominated society. In fact, my upbringing sort of assured I would have more of an issue with men not fulfilling their obligations because my own father allowed my mother to raise me on her own while he took care of his other family; so, you could say I really understood a lot of the resentment some women had.

Although it wasn’t due to any credit on his part, my father’s lack of presence and guidance in my life taught me the concept of being a better father and husband. I made more than a few promises, as a child growing up without a father, that I am proud to say I’m keeping to this day as I continue to grow with my wife of 19 years, my son (18), daughter (15) and my youngest son (6).

I routinely get into spirited debates on social media concerning how females are sexually objectified in today’s culture, and how the issue is so systemic that we no longer feel that it is anything more than doing business. What bothers me about this practice is that so many women are complicit in their own objectification! I don’t believe that we will ever see an end to this issue when so many seemingly intelligent women are fully on board with their own objectification.

If women in Hollywood are as talented as their male counterparts, then why are they repeatedly relegated to being the exhibitionist whose main contribution to a film seems to provide T&A whenever the script calls for it? If men are allowed to showcase their acting ability fully clothed, why are women required to showcase their physical ‘assets,’ and even worse… get paid much less in the process?

To make this issue worse, we live in the era of “the selfie,” and “the sex tape,” which are both considered today’s ‘resume’; the big break into instant fame, and notoriety. How can crusaders for women’s causes ever truly gain momentum when so many women complain about the politics of this male dominated system only to play the game themselves for minimal gain? Don’t get me wrong, while I believe a woman’s body is her own to use as she desires, I just don’t understand how it supports the cause of fighting against sexism, or the issue of objectification in the media imagery and film.

These women perpetuate the very “out-dated” ideology that keeps them a slave to the very system they claim they want to fight against for change!

A few years ago I read a magazine article featuring Mila Kunis. She was being interviewed about the “glass ceiling” in Hollywood, and how she wanted to be taken serious as an actress. I could have commended her for the effort if she had not been photographed for the interview in her underwear!!! Guys can mock me for my views all they want, but I don’t believe it is an actress’s (a woman’s) birthright to be obligated to bare her body and soul all for the entertainment of the masses!

If George Clooney, Tom Hanks, and Denzel Washington, all considered Hollywood royalty who seemingly get whatever project they want, can get their Oscar buzz, and do so all with their clothes on, then why are Hollywood starlets required to disrobe in nearly every script?

There was once the notion that young starlets had to pay their dues by doing those T&A flicks early in their career until they were able to pick the projects that they truly wanted, or until they had more ‘pull’ with studios. If this is the case, then why are veterans such as Julianne Moore, Helen Mirren, and Kate Winslet all still doing nude roles in movies which premises seem to only exist in order to get them nude at some point of the film?!?!

While some will try to spin this situation into some crusade to prove older actresses are still viable, my question is this… why is it that in Hollywood an actress’s viability is seemingly relegated to how often she wants to take off her clothes on film? Furthermore, can anyone explain to me why do men automatically receive top billing when they generally keep their clothes on? Consider the moments in which an American film asked, or allowed, a man to briefly display his penis in comparison to the thousands of times in which female nudity carried the weight for most films featuring nudity in Hollywood.

I’m not a prude, and I don’t have a feminine side; I just don’t secretly hate women, or believe that they are somehow inferior, or merely put here for our pleasure.

What makes this matter even worse is the fact that so many beautiful, and intelligent women are selling themselves short by succumbing to the very politics that I speak out against in this writing.

For example, the beautiful actress Janina Gavankar, whose career spiked after her very buzzed about full frontal nude scenes from HBO’s popular series True Blood only made other young actresses sign on to play the role of “this week’s nude actress” on any HBO, or ShowTime show. I read her biography, and unless it was completely embellished, the actress is an accomplished musician who plays several instruments and has a degree in music.

Why do so many talented accomplished women settle for being defined by their bodies when they have so much more to offer than just their body?

Why do women who argue that they want to be taken more seriously, and demand change, always seem to fall back on clichés?

They settle for parts and roles that only set women, who really seek change, back a few steps in their struggle. While I understand that feminism can mean different things to different people, I can’t agree with topless protests that only further subjugate women overall, and keep them fighting an uphill battle.

This past year I came across an article about female tech industry CEO’s who, in order to battle “sexism” in their fields, got the bright idea to pose in their underwear in order to oppose the sexist, elitist “all boys club!” For every valid point any of these women have, or any other group of women, who define their feminist views with this type of resolve, I argue that there are members of the “all boys club” that are at home “jerking off” to these women’s pictures. Unfortunately, those same members of the “all boys club” are probably also laughing at how stupid and futile these efforts are, because it plays right into their limited view of women and it keeps women eternally objectified!

E.D. Armstrong

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