being a woman

There has been a lot of outrage around several events involving women lately.

Before the summer, the Blurred Lines music video with Robin Thicke showed women wearing only skin coloured thongs, walking around fully dressed men. This was seen as sexually objectifying the women. Everyone seemed to assume that there is no way a woman could enjoy showing her body proudly to the world. We should be hiding it instead, evidently.

Then Miley Cyrus twerked with the same Robin Thicke at the MTV music awards and she was accused of too many things to count – sex objectifying herself, being a slut, being racist, etc… Everyone seemed to assume there is no way that she just found it fun. We should be doing what everyone else thinks is appropriate, rather than what we really want, evidently.

Last week, the CEO of Barilla (the Italian pasta company) declared in an interview that his company believes in the traditional role of women in the family and therefore would not use gay families in their ads – and that if gay people didn’t like it, they could eat another brand of pasta. All my gay friends immediately went into action, calling for a boycott of the homophobic pasta, and a few hours later Mr Barilla was apologising. But absolutely none of my women friends took any notice of him wanting the woman in the kitchen. Everyone assumed that we are ok being told we should be in the kitchen, making pasta for the whole family.

And at the same time, McKinsey keeps tracking the abysmal record of companies at promoting women to higher level jobs. The government keeps tracking the abysmal number of women working full time in the Netherlands. Mothers keeps talking about the mummy wars – working mums judging stay at home mums and vice versa.

Why am I connecting these dots? Because I don’t think there is any demographic being judged as much as mine. Women. And there is no other demographic doing as little to change any of it.

I feel we are at the stage where the women around me have given up completely on trying to change Mr Barilla, or companies, or governments, or society. I don’t receive emails or tweets every time a company says something sexist. My facebook stream doesn’t fill with petitions every time a woman is being judged for having fun, or being sexual. We seem to think what we have is good enough – we can vote, we can work, we can divorce, what more could we possibly want? We have decided to save our energy to focus on our personal situation and disengage from any debate. Except that only works up to a point. Do we want our daughters being called a slut every time they try to express their sexuality? Do we want to be told again and again that there is no good reason to be proud of the female body? Isn’t that like one step away from living under sharia law?

Personally, I see myself as much more likely to put a sexy outfit on like the Blurred Line girls or to twerk like Miley than to turn into the traditional woman Mr Barilla wants me to be. But if I say this out loud to people, what does that make me? Well, suffice to say that I don’t say it out loud because I know exactly how I’ll be judged. Including by women.


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