Monday, January 6, 2014

Did Feminism Take a beating in 2013?

 “One of the greatest powers a woman has is the power of her sex.  Few women realise the power of their sexuality and those who do often abuse that power”-Rick Johnson

I am woman hear me roar…….well in 2013 it was more like I am woman watch me twerk! The feminist movement aimed to establish equality, while also attempting to alter the perception that females were nothing more than sexual objects.  We’ve certainly come a long way, our place in society is no longer confined to the household.  Us working women owe a lot to our predecessors.  They fought hard for the rights we enjoy today.  There's no denying the fact that progress has indeed been made.  However I can’t help but feel we’ve never really managed shake off the ‘eye candy’ stigma. 

So why in this day and age are women still being viewed as sexual objects? Most people will point the finger at the media. I certainly agree.  In my eyes the main culprits include the music industry, men’s magazines, and of course the dreaded Page 3 phenomenon (a feminist’s kryptonite).  The music industry is no doubt a source of major frustration for modern day feminists the world over.  It was one of the first outlets to discover that sex really does sell.  Early music videos usually featured nothing more than a live performance.  However when sex hit the main stream, it all changed.  Music videos became less of a visual expression of an artist’s work, and more like a vehicle for pushing sales.  So how can you ensure people will watch your video?  The formula is simple, just include an array of beautiful, scantily clad women doing some seriously sexy moves.  Men will no doubt want to watch them, while girls will aspire to look like them.  My issue here is not only the obvious exploitation of the female race, but also the lack of originality. If I had a euro for every music video I’ve seen containing a girl in a bikini-I’d be able to buy my own record label.  It’s beyond boring at this stage!  

The majority of record companies are owned by men, so it’s easy to blame them for this surge in exploitation.  But what about the female artists that are choosing to market themselves in a sexual manner? Surely they have to be held accountable too.  It's easy to point the finger at the big bad record executive, and assume he’s the one putting pressure on these girls to bare skin.  However I don’t think that's entirely fair. Jive records were eager to keep Britney Spears as pure as possible.  They even went as far as to suggest she proclaim her virginity.  In her early days, she was the epitome of the squeaky clean teen idol.  Mother’s would happily buy their daughters Britney records, after all she was such a good role model.  However despite their best efforts, Jive couldn’t stop Britney from growing up.  She was discovering her sexuality, and it started to alter her image. The more famous she became the more power she exuded.  If Jive wanted to hold onto their biggest selling artist, they’d have to step back and allow her to take control, even if it meant alienating their sacred teen fan base.

Fast forward to 2013 and we’re seeing a similar scenario play out with Miley Cyrus. Like Britney, she was a former Disney darling who captured the imagination of young girls everywhere.  However last year her she showed us a completely different side to her.  Miley was no longer content to play the part of the pristine pop star.  Her image underwent a major overall, everything was stripped down……literally. But she wasn’t the only one to turn up the skank factor . It seemed like last year the women of pop were embroiled in a battle, each one desperate to out-tramp the other. We saw Rihanna take on the role of a G-string wearing stripper in her video for Pour It Up. She even managed to simulate sex with a chair! When you think about it Britney’s ab baring antics in early 2000 were nothing compared to what we’re seeing now.  However Miss Spears recently attempted to regain her raunchy crown by depicting BDSM in the video for her latest single Work Bitch.

On one hand I’m furious that these pop stars are providing fuel to the fire.  How are we ever going to be taken seriously if women are now exploiting themselves?  But then another part of me finds it empowering to see women taking control of their own sexuality. I have to admit Rihanna does look pretty bad-ass sitting on that throne-smoking a cigar.  I like that we’ve also taken ownership of the word bitch, it’s fast becoming a term of endearment amongst females.   

I’m seriously conflicted when it comes to this issue.  Is it such a bad thing to want to be sexy? Does it mean you’re betraying the concept of feminism?  The female form is a work of art, can we blame women for wanting to celebrate it?  I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a fine line between being sexy and being downright tacky. There’s a lot to be said for leaving something to the imagination.  For me it boils down to intentions.  I have no problem with any woman expressing their sexuality.  But if you’re letting it all hang out as a means of seeking attention and or shocking people, I’m less forgiving.  To me that reeks of desperation. I also find it incredibly lazy and unimaginative.  Hopefully 2014 will bring us something a little more original! After all any gal can take her clothes off!

Yours Faithfully