Men are expected to be hard, strong, and incapable of vulnerability. They are shamed when they show emotion, because, as Robert Smith of The Cure sings, “boys don’t cry.” Men are expected to be strong and capable human beings, but not human enough to be able to feel emotion. They are honed to become leaders, builders, and sculptors of our modern world, and as society puts it, they are boxed away from their emotions so they would not hinder themselves from their imminent domination. Women, on the other hand, are taught to rely on whoever we are going to marry. We are taught to make ourselves look good so that we would cater to the needs of men.
Gender inequality has been a major issue ever since. In the Stone Age, physical ability was everything. If you are not strong, you would not survive. Men are most likely to rule in that era. In the 1800s, women did not have the right to vote. It was a long and tumultuous journey for the suffragists. Only in the 1920s was when women were finally allowed their right to vote. During the 1950s, professional jobs were closed from women, and were only getting paid sixty percent of what men did. The time when the feminist movement truly started to rise was in the 1960s. At present, women are stereotyped to be clueless, dependent, and too weak. The battle for equality continues to this day.
Undoubtedly, a lot of people are greatly misinformed about what feminism really stands for. Most of these people see feminism as a movement that promotes hatred for men. A poll conducted in America in 2013 reveals that only 39% of Americans claim that they are feminists. Interestingly, the poll also revealed that 82% of the same population believe in the statement “men and women should be social, political, and economic equals.” It is a brief and factual translation of feminism, but the advocacy has been perceived as man-hating, negatively radical, and liberal, among other incorrect perceptions of the advocacy.
Feminism has made numerous headlines in the last decade. Last year, Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines” was the number one single on every music chart on our planet. The listening public devoured the song; it was being played on radio stations for weeks at a time. Although there is no doubt that the song boasts a catchy rhythm and an addicting hook, its lyrics held a controversial story about Thicke trying to woo a woman at a nightclub who may or may not want him sexually. The song, coupled with a racy video which involved three male performers playfully dancing around with topless women, awakened a mass of angry feminists on social media. Some thought it was just harmless pop music; some thought it was a form of mistreatment and disrespect to the female gender. We do live in a patriarchy, so our society is the way it is. What is possible, though, is that men should be taught firsthand that women are not just sex toys. Men should not objectify women and glorify themselves for being able to snag a hesitant woman at a nightclub.
The media is a primary promoter of the fine line of different treatment between the two genders. An example is one that involves Miley Cyrus, who is well-known for her rather distasteful way of executing her art. She is always under fire for her actions, just like that instance when she swung on top of a wrecking ball, wearing nothing but boots on her feet. After the controversy the video garnered, headlines on the internet read “Miley Cyrus Sex-crazed and Pleasuring Sledgehammer in New Video.” On the opposite side, the media praises Nick Jonas for posing almost nude in a photo shoot with headlines like “Nick Jonas Has Blessed Us With a Mostly Nude Photo Shoot.” How come when women display their bodies to the world, it is widely judged and criticized? When men do so, it is seen as something so extremely acceptable that we call it a “blessing.” It is sickening how fazed we are by the bias we are faced with and that people see women’s bodies as incredibly offensive as compared to men’s.
Free The Nipple is an equality movement with a mission to empower women across the world. It claims that acts of violence and killing are glorified by the media, but women’s bodies are censored and considered too obscene to be displayed in public or in various media platforms. It is a campaign that promotes equal rights for men and women, a balanced system of censorship, and legal rights for all women to breastfeed in public. Founded by a female American activist, its main stand is; “What is more obscene: Violence or a nipple?”
When you stop and think about it, it is true. All around us are different kinds of violence and inhumanity. There are numerous crimes to solve, political anomalies to analyze, and systems to shake, yet what society dwells on is the apparent unnatural display of women’s bodies. Humanity has allowed itself to evolve into a monstrous and vicious species, but women and their bodies are still believed to be the enemy. However, women’s bodies could also be the culprits of crime.
Rape is one of the most overlooked atrocities in our current culture. The story of rapist and victim is tremendously contrasting. A rape victim after the crime will have to suffer the interrogations of many, such as “What were you even doing out that late?” “What were you wearing?” or “Why didn’t you have anybody with you?” People make it seem like it is a woman’s fault that she was born a woman and therefore it will be her fault that she was raped because she went out at night wearing clothing she was comfortable in. Why not teach men respect and teach them not to treat a woman as a thing that could just be played with anyway they want? Why not teach men to see the opposite sex as plain human beings?
Fifty-four percent of the cases of sexual harassment remain unreported, thus giving anti-rape activists a difficult time bringing the urgent problem of rape culture into the spotlight of our society. In recent times wherein photographs and videos of sexual assaults frequently surface on social media, the argument that rape is worthy to be the subject of public attention is becoming harder to defend. We have all become spectators of the morbid situation in our society that is rape.
Each one of us has become witnesses to the diseases in our society, but at the same time, there are obstructions which make us unable to see our current situation. Our culture has bred us to just accept the plague of misogyny that gravely fogs our society. Women nowadays cannot even take a compliment from a man without growing paranoid. This example reflects that the various cultural aspects and norms that we all grew up with have promoted the notion of the inferiority of women to men.
Women as little girls were taught to be feminine and delicate. We were taught how to cook, clean, and read. We played with plastic dolls dressed in frilly dresses. We aspired to be just like these dolls, but as everything became clearer to us, we grew aware of reality. We grew up to live up to the pressures of being skinny, pretty, and perfect, appearance-wise. We fall for boys who want nothing from us but the objects in between our thighs. To us, it meant everything to be wanted by that certain boy, whether if it was for the best reasons or not.
Men as little boys were taught to be strong and independent. They were taught how to restrain their emotions and keep them boxed away. The games boys played involved strength and the acquisition of power. The more strength you had, the more of a man you are. To society, when a woman is stronger than a man, it is emasculating. When a woman is more successful than her male partner, it is emasculating. When a boy’s sister can hold her emotions better than he can, it is emasculating.
The fact that a word such as emasculate should exist is bothersome. To emasculate means to deprive a man of his male strength, role, etc. What exactly is the true measure of a man? The idea of genuine masculinity is profoundly different for every generation. For this generation, being able to extensively provide for his family of their needs equals masculinity. Men suffer the burden of their assigned gender roles. Women are designated to stay at home and tend to their children, because this is what is expected of them.
What if we lived in a world where a woman’s femininity was defined by her ability to be independent? What if we lived in a world where a man’s masculinity was defined by his ability to show and display his true self and his deepest emotions? Or better yet, what if we lived in a world where we plainly saw each other as human beings? If the idea of gender roles were to be stripped away, we would not have to suffer the judgment of others and their caging us in their expectations. “You’re a boy and you like trying on make-up? Okay, cool!” “You’re a girl and you don’t wear bras? Great!” Imagine if every single component of our seven billion population’s mindset was such. Imagine if women and men were free from the borderlines and boundaries which prevent us from being ourselves. Our world would be free of the ideals, bias, and prejudice that give us the cause of wars and chaotic tendencies.
Not all women are women. Not all men are men.
Each one of us falls into a place between the gender scale, because gender is not plainly black and white. The key to a world free from discrimination is to understand that we all bear different ideals of masculine and feminine, of happiness, of love, and of ability. Gender, and all other concepts which separate our humanity, should be subjective and free from the chains of stereotyping and expectation. Equality in all its forms should not only be seen as an idea, but it should be seen as an urgent necessity. A world free from discrimination is a world far-fetched from our current state, but it is not impossible once we start to wake up and realize that the power to change the world’s perception dwells within ourselves.