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Feminism article

By Alessandra Lowy
Feminism, gender equality and sexual objectification are each subjects that have surfaced and spurred
insightful discussion among women and men alike on social media. Each term evokes radically different feelings
and reactions, but the terms go hand in hand, all crucial components of how women are thought of, portrayed and
thus, treated, in present-day American society.
Feminism is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes. Feminism is not, contrary
to popular belief, the belief that women should be politically, economically and socially superior to men. Recent
events, as well as the climate of anti-misogynistic writings that color Twitter and Tumblr, have incited an
international conversation about womens societal roles and feminism.
At the 2014 Video Music Awards in August, Beyonc performed in front of a sign emblazoned with the
word feminist in large, capital letters. Beyoncs brand of empowerment was not perfect, but it accomplished
what other activists could not: taking feminism to the masses. A contentious word with a complicated history was
reclaimed by one of the worlds most powerful celebrities and projected into the homes of twelve million
Americans.
Beyonc would become the subject of two-thirds of all tweets about feminism in the 24 hours after her
appearance, according to a data analysis by Twitter, making Aug. 25 the sixth-highest day for volume of Twitter
conversation about feminism in 2014 -- only eclipsed by the tweets that trended during the #YesAllWomen
campaign. The #YesAllWomen campaign was a social media response to the Santa Barbara shootings in May, in
which the shooter, Elliot Rodger, penned a manifesto and uploaded a video to YouTube prior to massacring a Santa
Barbara sorority, promising his vengeance against the women who he claimed forced him to live an existence of
loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires. I dont know why you girls arent attracted to me, but I will punish you
all for it, Rodger said in his last Youtube video. Its an injustice, a crime, because I dont know what you dont
see in me. Im the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme
gentleman. Rodgers comments inspired an online dialogue around the #YesAllWomen hashtag to criticize the way
society teaches men to feel entitled to womens bodies at the expense of womens health, safety, and, in Rodgers
case, lives. The trend included powerful tweets followed by the hashtag #YesAllWomen, such as Because every
single woman I know has a story about a man feeling entitled to access to her body. Every. Single. One. and
Because when girls go to college theyre buying pepper spray and rape whistles while guys are buying condoms.
Gender equality is the measurable equal representation of women and men, including in the workplace. On
September 20 , 2014, at a special event at the United Nations (U.N.) headquarters, Emma Watson announced the
#HeforShe Campaign, a worldwide feminist movement launched by U.N. Women with an aim to promote gender
equality by encouraging men around the world to openly speak out against sexism in solidarity with the womens
rights movement.
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I want men to take up this mantle, Watson said in her speech. So their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free
from prejudice but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human to reclaim those parts of
themselves they abandoned and in doing so be a more true and complete version of themselves.
By signing an electronic pledge committing to take action against violence and discrimination faced by
women and girls and verifying ones commitment with a name, country and email address, men can join the
movement at heforshe.org. The website, with an innovative, pink-and-black themed interface featuring inspirational
quotes from world leaders about womens rights, contains an interactive world map that allows viewers to click on a
country and see the number of men from that country that have signed the pledge. This feature draws attention to the
disparity in womens equality across the world, with countries like Turkmenistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia reaching
low numbers. According to the website, the global initiative seeks to put men at the center of activism and dialogue
to end persistent inequalities faced by women and girls around the world with a goal of recruiting 100,000 men and
boys to combat gender inequality over the course of the next twelve months. In less than 48 hours of the campaigns
launch, He For She accrued nearly 85,000 signatures from male supporters around the world, and it has now gained
over 167,000 signatures.

However, following Watsons public announcement of the He for She campaign, an Emma Watson death
hoax (#RIPEmmaWatson) emerged on Twitter and sites claimed they would leak Watsons nudes because she
spoke up in favor of feminism. Others responded to the hatred by commending Watson on coming out of the
feminism closet. The notion that a world famous actress followed by millions of young women in their
magazines and on their screens would proudly call herself a feminist was unimaginable to my generation, U.K.
Guardian journalist Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett wrote in an open letter to Watson. To us, feminists were shrill, angry
separatist lesbians intent on destroying the male sex, or at the very least intent on chopping their bollocks off.
Feminists didnt look like you, or me, or Beyonc, or indeed the many girls Ive visited in secondary schools who
have set up feminist societies and feel passionate about the issue of gender equality. Feminist was a caricature we
were all keen to avoid.
Earlier this year, Beyonc published an essay she wrote advocating gender equality while acknowledging
that the U.S. is far from fostering a gender-equal society. We need to stop buying into the myth about gender
equality. It isnt a reality yet. Today, women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but the average working woman
earns only 77 percent of what the average working man makes, Beyonc wrote. Men have to demand that their
wives, daughters, mothers and sisters earn morecommensurate with their qualifications and not their gender.
Equality will be achieved when men and women are granted equal pay and equal respect.
Equality in the workplace is far from a reality in Americas work world today. For instance, women can still
be fired if their employees find them - through no fault of their own - to be sexually irresistible. In July, the all-male
Iowa Supreme Court stood by its ruling that a dentist acted legally when he fired an assistant because he found her
too attractive and worried he would try to start an affair. The court found that bosses can fire employees that they see
as threats to their marriages, even if the subordinates have not engaged in flirtatious or inappropriate behavior. The
court held that such firings do not count as illegal sex discrimination because employees are motivated by feelings,
not gender (perhaps because the impulses of such people who feel that an attractive person is threatening to the
sanctity of their marriage render them too primal and animalistic to have to abide by normal laws.) Attention to the
case exploded on social media as it took the subject line of tens of thousands of tweets and Facebook posts across
the country.
Teens think of the womens rights movement as over because [women] can vote and have some mens
jobs and hold political office but they dont see how there is still so much economic inequality in the world and in
America today, demonstrated by cases like the Iowa Supreme Court decision. Its a process, junior Mariam
Motamedi said.
Sexual objectification is the viewing of people solely as depersonalized objects of desire instead of
individuals with complex personalities and desires or plans of their own. One litmus test of identifying sexual
objectification in an image is if the image contains any of the following elements: it shows only parts of a sexualized
persons body; it presents a sexualized person as a stand-in for an object; it portrays a sexualized person as
interchangeable; it affirms the idea of violating the bodily integrity of a person that cannot consent; or it suggests
that sexual availability is the defining characteristic of the person.
To describe objectification in a nutshell, subjects act while objects are acted upon - and the cultural
narrative of objectifying women perpetuates a social stigma that men are the subjects and womens bodies the
objects; that men should want and that women should want to be wanted. In an ideal world, men and women would
behave mostly as subjects and occasionally as objects, but, today, 96% percent of sexually objectifying imagery in
the media is of womens bodies, according to an Occidental University study. Seeing women as sex objects is so
ingrained into our cultural sub-conscience that scientists have found that both women and men see womens bodies
as a mish-mash of sexual body parts while we see men as whole people.
Because womens bodies are subject to constant frivolous criticism, girls learn at an early age to selfobjectify, which is to see themselves in terms of how sexually desirable they are to others. Self-objectification,
according to the American Psychology Association, leads to lower cognitive and motor functioning, increased sexual
dysfunction and body shaming, eating disorders and depression.

Above all, sexual objectification contributes to a culture where sexual violence isnt taken seriously, where rape
culture is commonplace, where taking advantage of women isnt met with reprimand but, rather, commendation.
Similar social norms are evident with regard to the subject of sending and receiving nude pictures. The naked
female body is treated so weirdly in society. Its like people are constantly begging to see it, but once they do,
someones a hoe, female rights activist Lena Horne once said. While feminism and gender equality are issues with
similar connotations worldwide, the United States cultural norm about how to treat women that reveal their body is
unique to the U.S. as other nations perceive the display of the female body in a different light. For example, in
Saudi Arabia, it is a social taboo for a woman to show anything other than her eyes in public, whereas, in many
European countries, topless women on beaches and on the front cover of magazines are commonplace.
In mid-August, naked pictures of certain female celebrities were leaked to the media, including those of supermodel
Kate Upton (who has appeared, scantily clad, on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition) and actress
Jennifer Lawrence (who is widely known for her role of Katniss in the Hunger Games). Reactions varied, from
people rejoicing over the naked photos, to others rendering those appearing in the pictures derogatory terms such as
whores and sluts, to others responding in a fury of outrage at the exploitation of the women.
In light of the photo leak controversy, junior Ellie Samuels retweeted comedian Bo Burnhams sarcastic
tweet: yass stolen naked pictures of young women yassss blatant violation of a fellow human beings privacy so
hot. Samuels, whose twitter bio is girls just want to have fun(damental human rights) considers herself a feminist
and exemplifies this belief in her day-to-day life as well as advocating gender equality via social media. Feminism
has nothing to do with hating men or whatever -- and most people who dont support it just dont understand what
it is, Samuels said.
Other parts of womens bodies have also been, to a degree, sexualized, making it so girls knees and
shoulders are so sexualized that even a tank top or short shorts are considered inappropriate. Because of this, schools
across the country (including in MCPS) ban leggings or spaghetti strap tank tops and establish stringent dress codes
because, apparently, the allure of seeing so much of a girls skin is so strong that it could distract boys from their
studies.
If you want to see why we need [feminism], every day at Wootton, girls are dress-coded because their bra
straps are showing or their shirts are too revealing but boys are never dress-coded for their shirts with naked
women, drugs, profanity, etc., Samuels said. At what point do you take girls out of school altogether because boys
cant handle it?
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At this point, you may be asking: okay, there is a disparity between men and women socially, politically
and economically but what do you want me to do about it? Well, the first step is acknowledgement. From reading
this article, you are already one step closer to perceiving girls and women in a different light. Now that you are
aware of the issues at hand, you can work to combat these social stigmas and the simplest way to do so is to change
the way you think about women. A movement toward thinking of women not as mere objects to look at or whose
bodies to enjoy, but as complete people living lives as complex and vivid as your own, populated with their own
ambitions, passions and desires, is the first step toward bridging the gap between the sexes and fostering a truly
gender-equal America.