#SexColumn: We need to stop objectifying women's bodies
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By Sharon Gordon
Today is Workers Day and my birthday!
It’s a big one and I don’t know about you but the week leading up to a birthday is always a time for me to take stock of my life and legacy.
Each year I promise myself that when this time rolls around next year I will be thinner, sexier, fitter, richer and the sad reality is that next year I will simply be older with worse skin elasticity and I will still be fighting the same issues I’ve been facing for 60 years (I told you it was big!)
I am saddened that women still have to deal with harassment and the gender pay gap in 2021.
That young girls are threatened with sexual violence when men can’t get their way or feel undermined or disempowered.
That men and women use the words slut, whore, bitch and cunt to humiliate and put a woman ‘back in her place’. With no equivalent retort to call men except maybe for limp dick.
I’m astounded that menstrual blood is still seen as dirty. I saw an article recently where a man was given start-up capital to invest in a business to manufacture a disposable glove for women to remove their tampon! The panel handing out the funding – all men! Have you ever in your life? We don’t wear a glove to wipe faeces from our ass do we? So why for menstrual blood?
Women have had to hear for millennia that our minds and our bodies are worth less and worthless.
I’ve spent years trying to get both men and women away from objectifying women’s bodies. I watched Botched recently and the number of men trying to look like women astounded me. They all wanted… bigger breasts and butts. Is this what men think women are – maybe with big hair, make up and a bit of bling?
I can tell you now – I’m not winning. It’s still about tits and ass.
I recently heard about a school that doesn’t wear uniforms, where the girls have been forbidden from wearing crop tops and short because – the boys find it distracting! Are you kidding me? Is nobody teaching these boys the difference between right and wrong? That what she wears shouldn’t affect your penis or your mind. Do men really have so little control?
I heard about another school where the boys have threatened to finger the girls in the pool if some code has been broken! One girl reported it to her parents and begged it not to be taken further because she felt unsafe and would be targeted by both the ‘in’ boys and girls!
It is systemic and subconsciously keeps telling women and girls that it is unsafe for them to pursue pleasure, independence, power and wealth. Let’s keep them in their place.
Women who enjoy sex are whores. Women who make it to the top of a company slept their way there. Women who can make tough decisions are bitches. See where I’m going with this?
This is the language we use, and our children emulate it. We stay silent when someone makes these allegations and don’t call it out for what it is – keeping women in their place – because how dare they be better, faster, richer?
I made it to the top of a mining company many years ago and I promise you I did not have sex to get there but I worked very, very hard and made many ‘bitchy’ decisions.
We systematically teach our daughters that abuse is to be expected.
Have you ever told your daughter that when a boy is being horrible to her it’s because he likes her? Yes? What is the primary message in that statement – he can treat you like shit because he likes you?
In another school there are a group of boys who are disruptive and are putting everyone in the class’ education at risk. The teachers are not allowed to kick them out because it breaches their code, so these brats get away with it. They threaten girls and boys alike. The girls have been told to ignore them. It seems to me that the teachers are afraid of these children and would rather sacrifice the meek to avoid the bully and save their jobs.
They report that the parents are absent, deny the child’s behaviour and if confronted threaten to sue and expose the school. So they keep their head down and pray for the year to pass.
I had a conversation with a man recently who was very verbal about women having the same rights as men – so what more do I want? We may have the same rights in the law books, but we are certainly no where close to experiencing them.
What occurs to me is that we have spent an enormous amount of time telling our children and ourselves that we have rights, but nobody is talking about responsibilities and obligations that go with those rights.
I may have the right to an education, but I also have the obligation to go to school, pay attention, do my best and do no harm.
I have the right to pleasure, but I have the obligation to say yes or no or you’re in the wrong place.
I have the right to feel safe, but I have an obligation to report behaviour that makes me feel threatened and unsafe.
I have the right to financial security, but I have an obligation to do my work to the best of my ability and not to steal.
These are the basics and yet they are missing from our society today. Somehow, we’ve messed it all up.
Both men and women feel unsafe in their relationships. Very few are honest about what they want and what they don’t. Feeling emotionally unsafe is one of the biggest problems in most marriages. Let’s go back to – ignore him, it’s because he likes you!
Many women who are raped by someone they know don’t say no during the attack. I have asked why and the answer I get is I was afraid he would hurt me more. I might prefer a battered and bruised face to an abused vagina because it’s so much easier to prove. I say this with trepidation and no judgement. It’s about feeling even less safe.
I read a tweet recently where a man said – I date because what’s the worst thing that can happen, you have a night out and a cup of coffee with someone you never have to see again. A woman replied – on a bad date I end up raped or dead. Sobering isn’t it?
Being a year older and entering my sixth decade, fighting the same prejudices and patriarchal bullshit makes me wonder what next? How do we change the conversation? How do we deal with gender-based violence and bullying in schools? How do we give and receive pleasure without being judged, called whore and threatened with rape?