The War on Women

I hate the phrase war on women, but it is appropriate for what I believe is happening in this country.  It seems that everywhere I turn, women are being targeted.  The attitude of society towards women has not changed since Adam gave Eve that damn rib.   Since the beginning, women have been perceived as prey and something to control.  And although much has changed in this country, there is a war and it is still wages on.  Those waging this war use certain rationalizations to justify a war they deny.  Some of them are subtle and some of them are blatant.  All of them present as a way to dictate the lives of women.

Reproductive Rights

Reproductive rights are one of the more controversial justifications for this war.  Everyone argues about pro-choice, pro-life and the ethics and morality of contraception.  Here is the bottom line: the only people who should decide what a woman does with her body are the women who own the bodies.  Men have no say at all.  The only time a man should have a say in the decision about a woman’s body is when it directly affects him.  If not, men don’t get to have an opinion about reproductive rights.  And no one tries to tell men what they should do with their bodies.  Do people feel this way because women can get pregnant? Is it because women are supposed to save themselves for marriage thus not needing contraception? When there are two different sets of standards, there is no wonder that many women feel they are under attack.   Think about it this way: There is no situation in this country, in which a majority of women get to decide an issue that only affects men.  If you think of one, leave it in the comments section.

Words

The words that people say are not really about dictating the lives of women, but the concepts that people use in their conversation allow them to target women.  I have come to believe that most people cannot handle the reality of the awful things that happen to young girls and women in this country.  I think they make statements that allow them to dismiss what they do not want to acknowledge and at the same time further their own agendas.  In doing so, they say things that make you believe no one cares about women in this country; even a little.  I’ll give you a few examples of what I mean:

 1.”In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out”

­­–Texas state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, on why there shouldn’t be a rape or incest exception in Texas’ sweeping anti-choice bills.

2. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
—Rep. Todd Akin (R-Missouri). His lost his Senate bid in 2012.

3. “It’s Jessica who’s having to have her body live with the ravages of this vaccine.”
—Michele Bachmann, (R-Minn) on the “dangers” of the HPV vaccine

4. Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut for “needing lots of birth control to manage her sex life.”

5. “Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception.”
— former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh

I found about twenty of these statements; I am sure there are more.  To see some other winners go here.   There are people out there who listen and believe statements like these.  This is what perpetuates the beliefs that women need to be protected from themselves, the violence against them is imagined and women’s needs are not important.  Maintaining these beliefs is what makes it ok to ignore the appalling actions towards women.

Violence

Violence against women has been around since the beginning of time.  The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that 1 in 4 women is a victim of domestic violence in the US.  1 in 6 women have experienced an attempted or completed rape.  In 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that over 11,000 sexual harassment complaints were filed with their office; Over 70% were made by women.  Finally, in 2012, the NCIC reported there were over 330,000 young girls and women who were reported missing in the United States.  When a society perceives women as objects and/or prey, it is easy to understand these statistics.  The attitude that contributes to this violence is not one that people are born with; it is a learned behavior and we are teaching it.  There are too many factors to mention here that contribute to teaching this behavior but in general terms it is the things we say, the things we do and the things we allow.  It is not just men who are taught to see women in this way.  Women are taught a similar attitude, but in a different way.  We teach women not to love themselves for who they are; we teach them they are not good enough; we teach them that they need to have a man; we teach them that their bodies are dirty, etc., etc.  When this is what we do, I am not surprised by this information.  I am sad and pissed.

When you grow up in an environment where it is ok to treat a woman as if she is an object, not important, insignificant and a prop, this will be the end result.  Although there are many of us fighting against this war, there are so many more that see none of the above as an issue.  No one can look at these statistics and say there is not a problem.  They choose to ignore it because it is easier to pretend and live in the world they have created in their minds than to change the mess we have created. The really depressing part of all this is that we begin teaching all of this at a really early age.  There are children’s beauty pageants which sexualize children, magazines that make 14 year olds look like they are in college, the amount of child pornography in existence (most of it is girls), and our inability to see the importance in educating young girls.  Along with all of this, we still have certain beliefs about what women’s roles should be, a lack of equal pay in this country and the existence of Title IX.  If the war is to end, the first thing that should happen is we stop portraying girls and women as objects and as prey.  It is a very large concept to overcome, but we need to understand that none of this is because women are weaker or not as good; it is because of how women are perceived.

The Bachelor and Other Shows Contributing to the Delinquency of a Woman

It is amazing to me that women still want to be on The Bachelor when you consider their record.  The Bachelor has been on for 17 seasons and there have been two marriages.   Women who go on The Bachelor hope a man they do not know, is going to pick them from 25 women he doesn’t know, while the women cut each other to shreds to show the man how much they care and the man makes out with all the women he can.  All of this is happening while the man and the women try to convince us that they will form a relationship with each other, strong enough, to get married in 13 weeks, only spending hours with each other.  It is one of the most degrading shows for women on television.  It doesn’t even make me mad, I am just sad that this is what we have come to.

The Bachelor is not the only show that contributes to this mess.  There is The Bachelorette, Flavor of Love, all the Real Housewives shows, Love and Hip-Hop, Basketball Wives, 16 and Pregnant, Bad Girls Club, Making Mr. Right, Dance Moms, Jersey Shore, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Teen Mom, Toddlers and Tiaras and so many more.  Reality programs are probably the biggest offenders, but they are not the only ones.  There are a few non-reality shows that are doing the same thing: Sex and the City, The Good Wife, Mistresses and Soap Operas.

There are reality and non-reality programs that try to portray women in a positive light, but I should be able to channel surf without seeing on every third channel: a woman with her butt out, a woman who is screaming at another woman or a woman who is fighting with another woman.  No more pregnant teens glamorized on TV.  We should not accept a program where a woman has sex with someone’s husband, but then condemn the real thing.  No more of our sisters portrayed on TV as crazy, loud, insecure, ignorant, desperate, violent, greedy, selfish, compliant women who will sleep with someone to get what they want.  These are the images that our daughters, sisters, nieces and cousins are seeing even if we try to counter those images by talking to young girls and women.  When the negative images of women dominate reality programming and reality programming dominates television it is hard to counter those images

When these images and concepts of women permeate our conscious and sub-conscious it begins to tear us down.  We start to believe the lies they tell us and begin to live the life they depict on television.  We start to believe the only way to get ahead is with our bodies, we start to believe that our voice does not need to be heard, we start to believe that we are not good enough and we start to believe that only ‘I’ matter and not ‘we’.

This representation of women is not only the fault of television and other media.  We, as women, have to take some responsibility.  We are responsible for how the representation makes us think about ourselves, we are responsible for contributing to the continuation of this representation by television (I am guilty of this myself) and we are responsible for being the ones to say No More.  It is not easy to look away from a train wreck, but I would hope that if you saw someone struggling, you would at the least call the police and at the most, go over and help pull them out.

Who is the Beholder of Beauty?

A friend sent me a link to an interview with Dustin Hoffman on his role in the movie Tootsie.  http://www.youtube.co/watch?v=xPAat-T1uhE

In the interview, Dustin Hoffman talks about not being beautiful as a woman.  He says he went home and cried because he thought that he was an interesting woman as Tootsie and told his wife that he had probably missed out on meeting some great women because he would not have talked to a woman that looked like Tootsie if he met her at a party.

Since we got out of the Renaissance, when baroque women were considered to be beautiful (roughly between 1400s-1800s), we have been dealing with a convoluted sense of what beauty is.  Just like men, women come in all different shapes and sizes.   But it seems that women who do not live up to some crazy standard of beauty are ignored.   A woman’s personality, intelligence, accomplishments or humor does not even come into the equation.

We have all felt unattractive at one time or another, but what if you may not be that outwardly attractive woman or you do not conform to the dimensions a woman is supposed to have: your nose is too big, you’re too fat, your eyes are too close together, you’re too dark, you’re too tall, you’re too skinny.  But who decides that? Why can’t a woman who has a bigger nose be seen as attractive, why can’t a woman who is tall be seen as a possibility? And what does this do to a woman? We want to think that we don’t need or want validation from anyone for our own self worth, but we all want to be recognized at the very least as a human being and then, we want to feel that we are  just  as good as all the other women around us.  When we are ignored because we are deemed unattractive, it hurts and makes us question.

And all of this comes from these unrealistic  images that tell us that we are not good enough.  As everyone knows, the average woman is not 6’0″, blonde, D cup breasts, size 2 waist, with an Anglo nose and high cheekbones, but it is what we are bombarded with on a daily basis.  When you have been socialized like this for 20 years, when you go to find a mate, what will you look for? And a better question is what are those of us who don’t look like that supposed to do?  We are left feeling that we need to change in order to not only attract a mate, but to even be recognized.

I am acutely aware of changes.  Women like Melissa McCarthy and Gaby Seidibe are on television and in movies, there are more commercials with Black actors shown during White shows (believe me it’s a new concept) and women are writing, directing and staring in prime time television shows and movies.  These are not trivial achievements.  These mediums are how most of society understands beauty and these changes in that medium are the beginning of undoing 100’s of years of societal brainwashing.

There is nothing wrong with seeing those perfect looking women in magazines, television, movies and videos, but I want to see women who look like me.  I want to see women who look like you.  If we start to see them, maybe we won’t think of beauty as described above.  Maybe men and women will have a more realistic view of who we are.  I don’t have high hopes of changing the minds of older men, but we can try to do better with the new generations coming up.  Maybe when they behold beauty, they will behold us all.

The George Clooney Effect

The only reason I am writing about this is because I just saw the story and it really helps to illustrate a point that I think all of us should think about when it comes to women and marriage.

According to the CDC, in 2009, there were over 2,000,000 marriages in the United States.  The current divorce rate is approximately over 50%.  With these kinds of stats you might think, why would anyone get married? And that is not really the question.  The question is why are so many people getting divorced? Is it because they choose the wrong person; they are not really ready to get married; they have preconceived notions about marriage that do not live up to the reality? It is probably a combination of all of the above and other reasons not listed.  These statistics make me think that we need to think differently about marriage.

For years, there has been all this speculation about whether George Clooney will get married to one of the women he has dated.  Articles have been written, his relationships tracked and his psyche analyzed.  Most of these people following George’s life like this think he should be married or at the very least they question if he plans to marry.  I want George Clooney and any man who feels like he does to stay single.  Don’t get married George and will all of you stop asking him if he’s getting married.

When a person has made it clear from their actions and their words that they will not be in that kind of committed relationship, we should go with that.  I call it the George Clooney Effect.  We need to stop making the George Clooneys of the world feel that they have to conform to our ideas of what their lives should be.  Marriage is forever and it is really hard.  You are bringing together two people raised in different households, with different values and trying to mesh them together in one life with as few complications as possible.  Who would would want to complicate this even more with someone who is indifferent or just not interested in marriage? You want to stand before your friends, family and maybe God, with someone who at least has the same beliefs you do about marriage.  If you have to talk them into it, you should probably walk away.

When I saw a few days ago that one of the lead stories was George Clooney and Stacey Keibler breaking up, I thought to myself, why does this surprise people?  The woman is in her 30’s she wants a family I am sure and George Clooney has no intentions on getting married; at least that’s what he had been saying for at least 10 years.  I don’t know why the lead story was not Stacey Keibler dodged a bullet.  She is not going to marry George Clooney, who doesn’t want to get married by the way, so she has a better chance of not getting divorced in five years after she gets married and become a single mother.  This is the way we need to start thinking about marriage not ‘poor Stacey Keibler.  George wouldn’t marry her.’  I want women to see the George Clooney Effect, believe what the man says, don’t convince him of anything and find someone who wants what you want.

The start of a beautiful relationship

I decided to start blogging because I believe I am a writer and I do not have my words out in the universe.  I am working on that, but until then, I think this will help to hone my craft.

Everything that I write is about women.  Most of my ideas for books come from things that I see around me, but not all that I see becomes a story in my head.  Since there is a lot of stuff in my head, I thought this would be the perfect place to get down all those other thoughts that are not going to be a story.  I want us all to learn, do better and be better.  Now that is not to say that I have all the answers, but I would at least like to start the conversation.  I want to share what I believe and my opinions with the world and see if the world agrees or if I am crazy.

I want to blog about everything women: the good, the bad, the ugly and the absolutely insane. Some of you will not like some of the things that I have to say and that is ok. I am open to another opinion other than mine and am willing to discuss all points of view. I hope that this blog becomes a place that all women can talk openly and honestly about how they feel about what I have said or what their sisters have said.

Just because this blog is about women, does not mean this is a blog to bash men.  I do not want this to be about hurting men.  I just want to write, to try to uplift women and talk about our issues.  I do not know how often I will be blogging, but I hope that when I see or hear something that interests me or upsets me that I will blog about it.  I will try not to make my posts extremely long and I will try to make them interesting.  This might even be a place that I have ‘guest’ bloggers (really my friends) come and write something for everyone to read.  I may have a lot of opinions, but there are some things that other people might know better than me.

Now, this does not mean that we do not welcome the voice of men out there.  If you have an opinion about what was said, please feel free to chime in.  We will not hurt you…I promise.

See you Soon

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