by Jinya, UK
The Internet seems to be growing limitlessly. With this has come the explosion in the use of images, and especially the proliferation of the female image in many forms. The Internet being a largely unregulated platform, has become a breeding ground for the quick sell disposable images of women. Highly sexualised imagery has become the accepted norm; the Internet has been instrumental in spreading this denigration of women across the whole media in general. Magazines for the top shelf have existed for a long time, but in recent years the distinction between the age-restricted porn, the ‘lads mags’ and other trashy ‘coffee table’ media has become less defined. It’s all the same offensive rubbish, coloured differently.
The judgment of women based upon their outward appearance is a deeply rooted behaviour. And on this false foundation, the sexualisation of women has become so ‘normal’ and so accepted by our collective psyche that it carries on with no regard as just another facet of life in the 21st century. It has become so accepted that women are mere objects, and their attractiveness is their main ‘commodity’. They have learned to play ball with this as their point of existence, rather than truly live from their quality. The media has gone berserk without once stopping to consider – is anyone being hurt by this use of another human being?
Women are being hurt by this. I know because I see it everywhere, and most women have come to accept it as their preordained fate. I work in a male dominated industry where I see the denigration of women happening every day. However, I am also fortunate to know women who are living in contra to this abusive way: they are women who are no longer accepting such awful treatment in their lives. They inspire by standing up for what is true and reminding us that we (women and men) are much greater than this.
So what happened? How did we get to a point where it is commonplace for women to be maligned and abused in the media, their workplace, at home or anywhere, and to be judged to be ‘less than’ the impossible ideals that have been set for/by them – all at the same time? This abuse is constant… there is no letup.
How did we get from the natural feminine grace that women exuded only 50 or so years ago, to this point where they are lauded for being rushed off their feet trying to meet the demands of being a 24/7 mum, a career woman, a good daughter, a loyal friend, a loving wife; a veritable Swiss army knife of a person – all whilst holding a backward dog yogic asana, baking a pie, and looking effortlessly sexy in an apron? This is what we have come to accept and expect as ‘normal’ (slightly caricatured but true): this ‘normal’ is indeed very strange. No wonder caffeine is the second highest selling substance in the world, and alcohol and drugs are very much relied upon to unwind at the end of the day.
What is going on when men need women to be this way? What’s going on when women need to be this way for society to consider them equal to men?
I have always appreciated the beauty and sexiness of women, but until recently I had always put those qualities before who they truly are – underneath their skin. I have always loved women and being in the company of them, but I have to be honest and say that the ‘love’ (or need) I have felt was measured against what women could do for me. Women have been a source of affection, companionship, distraction, amusement, fun, mental/physical turn-on, infatuation, lust, sympathy, empathy, guidance, appreciation, admiration, inspiration, recognition, acceptance and approval. This might sound like a fairly innocent list on one level, but what I wasn’t being honest about was that I was seeking them from a need that grew out of a consistent dissatisfaction with myself and my choices. Without judgment, I can say that I had been used to being very self-orientated – with little or no love for myself. The distraction from, and the numbing of, my emptiness was my barometer of what my ideal ‘love’ looked like.
Before I started to deal with my hurts, I was going through life hurting and blaming others. It’s an ongoing development, but I have realised that what really hurts me is not allowing myself to be tender, and looking outside of me for fulfilment. The abuse of women is there because of the hurts that men carry around beneath their tough exteriors. Women do have a responsibility to themselves to no longer accept, and to speak out against, the abuse that they suffer – likewise, men have to start listening and changing. As it has for aeons, the cycle of hurt goes around; being passed from men to women, women to men, men to men and women to women like a never-ending doubles tennis match… wearing wooden clogs instead of Nikes. Something has to give!
Is it possible that true equality is not so much about women achieving the same status as men in society by ‘beating them at their own game’, but more about men dealing with our hurts and letting go of ideals and beliefs so that we would not need a woman to be anything other than her already glorious self? We need the true essence of women in our homes, our companies, our shops, our schools, our hospitals, in industry, in government, communities and every single part of life. Imagine when men stop imposing on women, and every woman you come across is being naturally amazing and that became the accepted ‘normal’. Then we would experience the naturally heart-melting tenderness that all men have the potential to express.
Hurts would stop going round and round.
The world would become very still.
That would be true equality.
Maybe even harmony.