Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Case of "Empowerment"

The word "empowered" sends shivers down my spine. It's a good bet that it's used when talking about a woman who is wearing revealing clothing, and not anything else, like "empowering girls to pursue science!" or "empowering girls to follow your dreams!"

Hi, I'm Scarlet, and I will be your Hater for the evening.

Every time I turn around, there's another article about how empowered a woman is because she's wearing something that just happens to a) shows off her cleavage, or b) show us her ass cheeks, or the weird new c) option, which is holes cut randomly around the hips because how would we know she was a woman if half her clothes weren't missing.

And to some women that's empowering. Don't mistake it for objectification-- they're doing it for themselves! Other people's opinions don't matter! As if we are not products of our culture and we weren't feed these images since we were kids.

Though it's marked as progressive, it's really the same spiel that's been going around for a long time. Women who are sexualized ( I'm sorry, sexualize themselves) are the most womanly women. They are the epitome of what it means to be woman. High heels. Make up. Designer clothes. Tits up and ass out.

In a society supposedly demolishing the idea of gender norms, it really seems to be doubling down on it. We applaud women who "dare" to take center stage in short shorts and killer high heels, or who decide to post nudies of themselves out of "self love"---nevermind that society always love a woman in leather and heels, or how "self love" requires the attention, gratification and feedback of millions of followers.

Now, a woman (or anyone) who shared a nude selfie after a mastectomy? Brave. Someone shows their less-than-perfect body to show that perfection is a myth? Honest. But a celebrity who shares nudies / almost nudes / sex tapes frequently? BORING. Boring fucking shit.

There's not room in our society for women that don't find sexualization empowering. Someone went so far as to call it rape culture---as in, if you don't stand up and applaud every time someone posts a selfie, you're a soulless harpy that somehow hates women.

Lips are curled and noses are looked down at any women who don't want to wear heels or makeup. "You're one of them"  they snarl, as if every woman is either sex diva that loves her ass to hang out, or a closet case just waiting for someone to liberate them---by wearing lingerie and fetish wear out in public. Not for other people, of course. For yourself.

And not buying into it makes you a something-ist. Sexist, misogynist, sex phobic, whorephobic (I thought you weren't supposed to judge people based on their clothing but I guess not???)

I have no idea how we went from "you should do this or you're not a woman" to "you should do it or you're not an empowered woman." They very people that were supposed to be accepting of different choices are now doubling down the same sexist standards.

Call it a great rebranding effort:

"It's not objectification; it's empowerment."

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