This week, instead of my planned blog on cheating, I have decided to look at feminists after the passing of Hugh Hefner and the furore that has sprung up around it.
I’m a woman, a woman who has faced true prejudice for simply being female. I am all for both men and women being seen and treated as equal, but is the feminist movement helping or hindering that cause? I would never term myself feminist, despite my desire for equality of the sexes which is supposedly the core aim of the movement, and the simple reason I don’t is because I see the movement as actually damaging what we hope to achieve. The passing of Hefner, highlighted this further for me.
In the past, women have been used very badly, our worth has been overlooked and our place in society has been seen as lowly, but that is not what we face today in most modern countries in the world. Yes, there is still a glass ceiling in many industries, one which should not exist, and yes, there are institutions that are still very much “old boys clubs”, but on the whole, we live in a pretty equal society. Why do I think this? Because of how women are treated, but also how women treat men.
Attitudes to women have changed vastly in my lifetime. When I was 16, and coming to the end of my compulsory education, I had three choices ahead of me; leave to get a job, stay on for further education or leave and train in a modern apprenticeship. My father, an engineer, had always treated me more like a boy than a girl. I was taught DIY so I could look after my own house when I got one, we watched football/rugby together and he taught me how to shoot his pellet gun in the back garden. So, if the zombie apocalypse happens anytime soon, I could pellet the hell out of those suckers and rugby tackle them.
My father was not above a bit of sexism; he bought my brother a double bed when he was 16, and let my brother’s girlfriend sleep over in it. I was 18 at the time, and my boyfriend had to sleep downstairs on the sofa. When I pointed out that was unfair, my father declared “well your brother can’t get pregnant!”. I have always been quick witted, and some might say cheeky, so I swiftly retorted “no, he can get someone pregnant and be screwed for child support for the next 18 years.” He had no come back for that other than to get annoyed and storm off saying I was his daughter and no man under his roof would be touching her. That aside, my father treated my mother as an equal in all matters. They both worked, both cooked, both did things around the house. Their earnings were put into a joint account and both of them could take what they liked after bills had been paid. He never went “out with the boys” and left her looking after the kids at home, he always went out with her. So, I grew up seeing that a marriage is a partnership and a husband and wife are equal.
My father wanted me to follow in his footsteps and become an engineer because he thought it would ensure I would always have a job and be able to take care of myself. I went to the technology college and sat the exam. There were around 300 of us who took it, and I was the only girl. I aced the exam, in fact, I scored the top mark out of the whole 300 of us. I was then called in to do a practical exam and equally impressed the college staff with my ability to solder LED’s (light emitting diodes – for those who are wondering) into a circuit. Now all I had to do was find a company to take me on.
The companies I was put forward to knew nothing about me other than I was a girl, what I had scored in my exam, and that the college was happy to put me forward. I got not one interview, in fact, all I actually got was one solitary rejection letter from a major multinational electronics company whose name starts with S and ends in Y. This letter had to be seen to be believed. In fact, my technology teacher, Mr Lambert, didn’t believe me until I showed him it. He was all for me becoming an engineer. There were only 3 girls including me who had taken resistant materials at GCSE level, and he liked the idea that he had helped one of us break through into the industry. When he read the letter, he was both shocked and appalled, but there was nothing anyone could do. The college couldn’t find me an interview, let alone a placement, so I ended up going on into the sixth form and taking the more conventional A Level and then Degree route and left a career in engineering well behind me.
That happened 20 years ago, if it had of happened today, I would have had much more help getting an interview because I would be seen as a diversity candidate, and if sexism was even a consideration, I could have sued the pants off any company that didn’t even give me a chance at an interview. As for the letter from S ending in Y, I still have that to this day as a reminder of why I work so hard to be what I want. To be honest, I am glad I didn’t go down that route. At 16 I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, and I wasn’t passionate about going into that industry, I saw it more as just a job to earn some money, so that extra time gave me the chance to work out what I wanted to do, hone new skills, give me valuable life lessons and help me meet people who helped shape who I am today. Sexism actually worked out for me in the end, even if at the time I was down heartened and livid.
So, I have seen the world change for the better in terms of sexism towards my sex, but what about towards men? Sexism seems to be switching sides, and the evidence for this is blatant. If men take on roles that traditionally women hold, such as househusband, nurse, nursery nurse etc., women still happily comment on it as though it is ok to make issue of the occurrence. When a man is a stripper, women happily go in groups to watch them and announce to everyone that that is what they are doing. If a man was to do that, he would be seen as a sexist pig objectifying women. How can that possibly be correct?
There is no place more blatantly sexist than adverts. Remember the Alpen advert (if not look at the link down at the bottom) where some hunky men are objectified? They show women exercising and say that it is sexist to have the women there in their gym wear exercising so the advert cuts to men doing the same and the voice over says “there, that’s better”. How on earth is that better? Why is it ok for us to openly objectify men but not them us? The hypocrisy is astounding.
The most interesting piece on sexism I have read recently was an article on the BBC about James Cameron’s thoughts on the new Wonder Woman movie. I liked that movie, it was truly entertaining and well done, but at the same time, I didn’t see why it was a true show of feminism. Cameron calls this out in the article, and I have to agree with him. Gal Gadot is a stunning woman, in fact, she is my girl crush. When you cast a “Miss *insert country here*” (in Gals case Israel) and put her in a very sexy form fitting skimpy costume, is that feminism? If it had been a male director who had done that, would it be seen as championing the cause? The answer is certainly not. Gal was fantastic as Wonder Woman, but I am sure that there were women less stunning who could have been. How is it championing feminism if you are using someone who is part of an industry that goes against your feminist principles?
A woman’s body is a beautiful thing. I’m heterosexual, but sometimes I look at a woman and say “now that girl is hot”. Am I objectifying her? There is nothing wrong with appreciating beauty, and women do it all the time towards men. In this day and age men are told not to objectify women, but we seem to have free reign to objectify them. Men are facing a crisis in image in the world right now. Never before have so many men had eating disorders (up 70% over the past 6 years.) and body hang ups, and that is down to how society is changing and how women treat men. Women are now demanding men who are groomed so well that they could grace the cover of GQ magazine but who, when topless, have a physique that wouldn’t look out of place on the front of Men’s Health.
In this modern world, I actually feel sorry for men because the tables have turned and they are powerless to do anything about it. There is no greater example of this than domestic abuse. When it happens to a woman it is taken seriously, when it happens to a man there is a stigma around it. A man will suffer in silence because he feels there is no one who will take him seriously and treat him with the fairness that he deserves, the same happens with an eating disorder. Domestic abuse towards men is a real issue, one which is not treated equally in society, but there is no such thing as Manism (or masculineism as Ric suggested, and he is male so hey I’ll let him name it). Where are the groups championing for male rights? When an advert comes out that shows men in a provocative light, who is asking for it to be banned because it will damage the body image/confidence of young men? When a group of women go to a strip bar and ogle the men, where are the groups with placards chanting about objectifying and how disgusting they are being? When a man faces sexism in his role as a nurse, househusband or other female dominated role, where are the lawyers taking on the cases in court? When a woman jokes that she only needs her man for sex and sperm as she can do everything else, where are the cries of sexism?
I’m going to make a controversial statement, but I am afraid it makes sense. In this modern world, we make objects of ourselves. There is no better example of this than Kim Kardashian, what exactly is she famous for? Getting her body out and making a sex tape. Does she have some redeeming talent that means she is worthy of praise? No, unless being a bint is suddenly praiseworthy, but she has made millions from using her body to gain fame. She has been managed by her mother who has positioned herself in a role that allows her to make money from her daughters airheadness. Is that any different from Hefner? So why is it sexist for him to do it but not for the “momager”?
No one made women pose nude in Playboy or be bunnies, women saw it as a badge of honour to be desired and wanted to do it. There may have been strict working practises in place to keep a public image of the women, but it is a company that is selling a brand image, any company which does that has a dress code and codes of practise. Again, women applied to be a bunny knowing what was involved, no one put a gun to their head and told them they had to, they could have taken a different job. There are many professions out there that don’t involve removing your clothes or cosying up to rich men.
The truth is that women have used their incredible forms and beauty to bewitch men since the dawn of time to gain what they want. How many women have you heard boast about the fact they have never had to pay for a drink or a meal they have eaten out? And don’t get me started on the women who have men buy them things to keep them happy. Have some god damn self-respect for yourself and earn your own god damn money and buy your own god damn things! The growing number of girls who want to be “celebrities” for nothing more than wearing makeup, tightfitting clothes and dating someone rich and famous is abhorrent, and they are making an object of themselves. Isn’t that what the feminists are meant to be stopping? So why is it on the rise and so prevalent.
There are tales passed down the generations about women seducing men to gain advantage. Hefner’s wife is an intelligent, good looking woman who could have a number of young handsome men. Did she decide to marry a bricklayer earning £9 an hour, or did she marry someone with millions? Rich men want a young hot wife, and the young hot wife wants someone to spend millions on them. That sounds like an equal deal to me. Has Hefner used the female form to get himself rich? – yes. Have those same women used the fact men want to see them naked to get themselves rich? – yes. So, both Hefner and his models used men to get themselves rich – isn’t that equality? Both were screwing over men for money.
Looking at the women who have mourned his passing, and what they have had to say about their involvement in the magazine, it becomes very interesting. Dita Von Teese, the epitome of stunning in my mind, thanked him for giving her the chance to be on the cover and launching her career to be what it is it today. Does Dita appear to you to be a woman who isn’t savvy enough to know what she is doing? She has made a living from being a seductress, and I am sure she hates all the money and adoration she receives from it. Pamela Anderson, clearly she hated every second too and Elvira, etc. All these very strong and savvy business women all thanked him for the chance he gave them. So is there anything wrong with it as long as all parties are happy about the arrangement? A woman can make money however she likes, so if she chooses to take her clothes off to make some, that is her choice. Why blame the man when both are just as implicit? Has it been forgotten that there was, until recently, a Playgirl magazine objectifying the male form? The editor in chief was a woman, does that mean it was ok? I am not going to hold Hefner up as a champion of women’s rights, but neither do I feel it is just to label him the devil incarnate either.
The truth is that we all objectify, whether we mean to or not. I can’t see a policeman in uniform without having a sneaky ogle because the uniform just does it for me. The DeVantier Publications girls all have our favourite calendar boys, all topless and toned, but if this was a male dominated office, would the boys be allowed their topless lust objects on the wall? You hear jokes like “I’d slide down his pole” about firemen or “he can cuff me any day” about policemen, and although it isn’t very polite to be objectifying a person, we are animals at heart who really only want to sleep, eat and mate. Women get away with manhandling a policeman (will point out I never have manhandled one!) because they use the excuse “I can’t resist a man in a uniform” and the policeman is meant to laugh it off, but if a man was to lay a finger on a policewoman and try to utter that, he would be arrested immediately for being disrespectful and sexist. The double standards need to stop. There is nothing wrong with finding another person attractive, and sex sells for a reason; because we all respond to it, but let’s not allow ourselves to victimise one group and not the other.
Surely we should be teaching children to respect everyone and promote equality. I don’t want kids growing up in a world where we have taught them that it’s ok to give rights to women but not to men. If I had a son, I would be worried for the future he faced because the pressures on young men are just as great as the pressures on young women, but he would face the added issue of no support from others because he has to be a “man” and “deal with it” or be ridiculed for not being manly enough.
So, in conclusion, are feminists harming their own cause; absolutely! When most people think of a feminist, they think of some old, wrinkly, greying woman with hippy clothes and saggy boobs because she burnt her bra many years ago. For me the word conjures up an image of a relic of society, one that is no longer needed in my opinion. Feminism is a word that needs eradicating because it has been tainted by women who are hypocritical and have used the word to champion inequality. I want a world where the word feminism doesn’t exist because I want a world where sexism is used instead, where both sexes are held accountable for their actions, where sexism is a revolving door not just the sole use of one group. After all, isn’t that what feminists want? Equality?
Report on male eating disorders:
James Cameron's BBC article: