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Our Mothers, Wives, Sisters, and Daughters: The Feminism Debate, Part 2

December 28, 2014

Whether it’s a “wanna-be-famous” reality TV starlet, or an already established star posting nude selfie’s, women willing to do any and all things in shameless self-promotion kill the very point of self-pride that my wife and I try to instill in our daughter; that she is worth more than her ability to flash her ass, or tits, in a photo on social media!

I blame the media that bestowed the “title” of “talented” on an artist like Miley Cyrus after the former Hannah Montana star became more famous for nude photos and self-destructive behavior in order to gain attention, than any success she had on Disney. Exactly how much talent does it take to behave like an amoral juvenile delinquent? They’re trying too hard to be provocative in order to hide the reality that they have no real talent to speak of.

When I read the passionate speech Emma Watson gave about gender inequality, I initially thought she could be someone whom young women can rally around, and who could set an example for her generation, and the ones that are looking up to her. Sadly, not too long after the buzz of her speech, came word that she is to do a topless scene in her upcoming movie. I couldn’t help but be disappointed.

As I’ve acknowledged from the beginning, I know full well there is more to feminism, gender inequality, and sexism debates than mere issues of women revealing their bodies on film. My problem comes when feminist proponents try to make a plea to people on the other side of this issue, all while making choices that could be perceived as missteps, or counterproductive to the very circumstances they seek to change. It destroys the impact of what they are desiring to change, among the very target audience that they were trying to persuade.

Instead of trying to “spin” these ridiculous examples, of artists trying to redefine feminism into something good for women, how about we actually rally around particular artists who could teach the young women a thing or two about setting your own tone?

I would like to point out an artist I believe that truly defines my point about being a role model, and doing things her own way.  I believe that Tina Fey sets the bar high, for women to aspire to, by doing her own thing. She is a very talented and attractive woman who could very well take the typical easy way out, and use her body to get ahead, or remain relevant. Instead, she uses her other God given talents to appeal to the masses; and it works rather well. I hope I don’t jinx it, and she makes her nude debut in her next film!

Some men live by the standard that they don’t care, and the more tits and ass the better, but that nude model/actress that did that graphic sex scene in that episode of True Detective, or that ShowTime series is someone’s mother, wife, sister, or daughter. Does the most die-hard subscriber to Sport Illustrated swimsuit edition really want his daughter to aspire to be an actress known for taking off her clothes, or using her body as opposed to her brain?

Regardless of race or ethnicity the female naked body is truly a beautiful thing which I can fully appreciate, but I hope that we can encourage young women to understand that they are more than just their bodies, and that despite what society currently teaches them, they have much more to offer the world.

I remember when my daughter was about six years old. She stood in the kitchen, and gave me and my wife a long list of things that she wanted to do with her life. She wanted to be a magician, dance ballet/tap, become a chef, and become a black belt. Where some parents just shrug it off as childish wishful thinking, we encouraged her efforts to learn. I went back to college at the age of 32, and by the age of 42 I had my Masters degree. I fully understand how important it is to achieve what others say you may not be able to accomplish, so who am I to sell my own daughter short?

My daughter is only 15, and she is a ‘Just Dance’ master, an excellent baker, and about to become one of the youngest Black-belts in her Martial Arts school!

I still remember one of the times she had to spar with a boy who had just beat one of her friends in another match. He made her little friend cry because he hit her so hard. My daughter, in turn, beat the boy so bad she knocked his mouth piece out of his mouth, and put him down on the mats! It might sound a little sadistic, but I was so proud of her in that moment! Not so much for the obvious reasons of her winning, but because she stood up to someone who thought that he was stronger and faster, and she proved that women are not inferior to men.

While the entire spectrum of issues locked in the feminist debate is further reaching than the issue of sexism and objectification overall, I hope we see that what some call progress is actually a further perpetuation of how women are viewed in this society. I understand that some women want to feel as if they are in control of their body, and that they are somehow demonstrating their take on feminism by flaunting their bodies.

Unfortunately, I feel that it is counterproductive to go topless in order to “protest” sexism in the work place; and just as ineffective is posing nude, or in your underwear. How can you be taken seriously in your profession? A woman taking her clothes off today is about as original a protest move, as the concept of a celebrity sex tape.

I feel that a show of solidarity of younger and older Hollywood actresses refusing to disrobe for films, selfie’s, or magazine shoots, would not only potentially change how women are treated in Hollywood, but could cause the public to see who is serious about changing the system, and who is merely just talking.

As I stated before, I am not some highly enlightened soul, nor am I endowed with some self-righteous cause that makes me immune to making mistakes. I’m merely a man who had the fortune of being raised by a strong principled mother, and who has sisters, a wife, and a daughter; and would not want anyone to objectify them because they are women. Why, then, would I want to objectify anyone else’s mother, wife, sister, or daughter?  Once we see these actresses, singers, and personalities as real human beings with families, then, I believe, it will be harder to just sexually objectify them.

I tell my daughter to never surrender her will to the whim of any man, nor let a man and his opinion of her, define who she is.

My wife and I often discuss the climate of today’s society, and how many former taboo issues are now front, and center. The concept of nudity today is being pawned off as some ceremonial rite of passage for young starlets wanting to make it to the next level; but how do we explain Helen Mirren who in her 70’s is still doing nudity? What mixed messages do we send when so many respected women in Hollywood allow themselves to be objectified all in the name of a system they claim to know is set up against them overall?

Some people suggest that if women ran Hollywood, it would be different. I actually feel that the issues are so systemic that simply adding in a few women, to try and offset men as studio heads, may not be entirely effective. We need to change the entire culture, not just add women into the mix of what’s already going on. The, Book 50 Shades of Grey, can’t be considered some sort of Harlequin Romance simply because it was written by a woman. Women will exploit themselves all in the name of book sales, or box office results, so I am under no illusion that simply having female directors or studio heads will off-set the objectification issue.

We need effective change in procedure, not just window dressing.

I hope that whether people agree with my perspective, or not, they can at least understand that it comes from a legitimate place. I hope that whether you agree, or disagree wholeheartedly with my views, you will at least understand the point that women are to be valued as much more than just sexual objects. These women are our teachers, law enforcement officials, counselors, the person working the register at Wal-Mart, and so much more.

How can a society that depends, and needs women as much as our world does, routinely devalue their worth to the point that they sometimes question their own self-worth? As men, we should do more to truly appreciate a woman than just merely be attracted to her sexually. We should show appreciation in valuing all that they bring, and while it might sound self-serving, how they actually make us, as men, more complete than we could be on our own.

When we find it hard to objectively value women in the midst of the feminist debate, then perhaps we should try to view women not as some enemy species, but as we would our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters. Perhaps then we can value them for what they can do, and not just view them as a commodity, or an object that we so readily devalue.

E.D. Armstrong

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3 Comments
  1. Thanks Heather, I actually got criticized a few years ago for asking the question of why Tom Hanks, George Clooney and company can receive Oscar buzz and top billing for acting with their clothes on, while it is generally expected for Kate Winslet, Julianne Moore and Naomi Watts to routinely disrobe all while getting paid less than the guys? I figured that regardless of where you stood on the “objectification” aspect of whether to “go nude” or not, this was a valid question, others didn’t think it was.

    Like

  2. While your view isn’t a popular one right now, I definitely get your perspective. I was raised very modestly as well and have a hard time with understanding how anyone feels empowered by nudes. I trust their experience to be true to them, but I just can’t wrap my head around it either. Feminism has room for both sides of this opinion, since it is about what the woman is comfortable with and empowered by but I agree with you, though, on how it can be counter-productive. I was criticized for making a similar argument and called part of the problem by other women. I’d just rather not be judged on whether or not I’m willing to take some clothes off “for the team”. Why is this even an option?
    I love Tina Fey too and read her book Bossypants a while back. It was really good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Heather, I actually got criticized a few years ago for asking the question of why Tom Hanks, George Clooney and company can receive Oscar buzz and top billing for acting with their clothes on, while it is generally expected for Kate Winslet, Julianne Moore and Naomi Watts to routinely disrobe all while getting paid less than the guys? I figured that regardless of where you stood on the “objectification” aspect of whether to “go nude” or not, this was a valid question, others didn’t think it was.

      Eric

      Like

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