Is Feminism really necessary in this day & age

09:30


I've been thinking about today's blog post topic for a while, a lot of people in the blogosphere are passionate about this cause but it's something I've never given much thought to, but I noticed when I was online shopping the other evening that there's a whole fashion trend based around female empowerment, so I felt like researching and forming my own understandings as well as sharing them with you. Just a warning, this is a very long post, so maybe grab yourself a cuppa and some biscuits and get ready for a good old read.

It's been over a century now since the Suffragette Movement, when women literally put their lives on the line in order to be given the right to vote (well, if you were a women under 30 it would be another ten years or so until you were given that right). There's no denying the importance of the suffragettes, but a lot of people seem to assume that this marked the end of the battle, men & women were now equal...this is far from the truth. The suffragette's were the beginning.

During the second world war, women were roped in to help the cause by taking over from the men who had gone to fight on the front line - women worked in factories, ration centres etc. When the war ended, 80% of the women surveyed wished to remain at work, having found a new sense of fulfilment. Well, when the men returned, 800,000 women were fired and in order to 're-domesticate' them, a huge PR campaign began through TV & the Tabloids conveying life as a housewife to be 'the good life'.

Seriously, what on earth?!

For fucks sake, I can't imagine the oppression women must have felt during this time period.
If you want to see more, just take a look here.

It's safe to say the media and those behind it have a cunning way of influencing behaviour, but what does that mean for a women in today's society? In what way are we unequal? We're no longer expected to take on the traditional roles, that remains an open choice, we're seeing an increase in the number of women taking on managerial positions in business. So...Is feminism really needed or are feminists simply clinging on to this to show how hard done by they are, and as a way to belittle men?

Not in the slightest.

The media & social influence:

Whether what we see, and what I'm about to explain, is a reflection of current views, is what sells or is an attempt to mould views is debatable, but there's no denying the media forms we consume from an early age, from children's TV & Movies to adverts, reinforces a lot of ideas of inequality that are still around so many years on.

From movies to music videos, we're fed this idea that women are meant to look visually appealing, that how they look on the outside is far more important than qualities like intelligence, depth of character & strong-mindedness. Hollywood is a great microcosm for this, with many actresses feeling shocked at the sheer lack of multi-dimensional, let alone protagonist, roles available to them. Female characters is many movies & tv shows are more often than not skin deep and any female character who is rounded is portrayed in a negative way.

One example I have is one of my favourite TV shows as a child, Zoey 101. (You know, Pacific Coast Academy and all that, the one that starred Britney Spear's younger sister?) Well, the one character I didn't want to be like in that show was Quinn - a highly intelligent science enthusiast. Why? Because no-one liked her and everyone thought she was super weird. She was this stereotype of a nerd - glasses, curly hair, braces & all the guys ripped on her. I could go on about Logan, who was the jock stereotype who somehow managed to get all the girls. Zoey was blonde, pretty and had a lot of friends and attention from guys. And we wonder why school is so bad on children? Because children then learn to apply themselves to these stereotypes and feel as though this is the way they have to act. Of course, this idea isn't limited to Zoey 101, and it's a bit of 'which came first the chicken or the egg' argument as to whether school culture replicates this idea of what they see on TV, or if TV just represents the already-there culture.

I've spoken about school before in my 'Pressure On Girls' post a few months back. If you were intelligent at school, sporty at school, had niche interests or were loud or eccentric, you were outcasted. Of course, its true for males as well, if you weren't athletic or masculine, you were walking bait for ridicule, all because you didn't fit into the standard expectation that we're force-fed from a young age through music, movies & magazines.

From the very moment we're born, we're differentiated based off what colour is associated with us - blue for boys, pink for girls. Dresses and skirts for girls, jeans and joggers for boys. We learn from a very young age that girls should play with dolls and dress up, and boys should be interested in cars and sports. Not everyone is raised in such a way, I personally wasn't, but the way it's marketed to us can have a huge effect on how we view this idea of gender - as opposed to just viewing ourselves as having a slightly different build to one another.

I remember in primary school, football on the playground was split into male and female, with many females not wanting to play as it was considered a 'boy' thing. If you were a female that wanted to join in with the boys in your year group - you were told to get off the pitch, by both the children and the playground monitors because you were 'getting in the way' or 'you could get hurt'. Well, one day the girls fought back, and took their case of inequality to the headteacher. Then, girls were allowed to play on the pitch with boys. Problemo solved. But if a group of us girls hadn't of fought for this, it would have never happened. Inequality starts at such a young age and everyone just learns to go along with it.

We then grow up and move into our teenage years, full of insecurities and self-doubt as our dreams of leadership and our ambitions are quashed by media influenced ideals of beauty and perfection. Magazines, full of highly photoshopped images of women, make us strive for this unattainable standard of beauty. Celebrities are ripped upon for any imperfection they may possess - a stomach roll means they're obese or they must be pregnant, the clothes they wear may be labelled as a fashion disaster, or they're labelled sluts for showing too much skin. And we wonder why we live in such a judgemental society? Yes, it's what sells, but it's also highly damaging to those who are being written about, and those who read it and then either judge other people or feel bad themselves.

It's no wonder why 1.6 million people in the UK are affected by eating disorders, and those are the ones who have been diagnosed, in fact, eating disorders have risen by 15% since 2000. Don't even get me started on the expectations held by the modelling industry, or those 'plus size' brands that really aren't plus size at all. It's why I prefer reading blogs to be honest, they're real, genuine people and each one is as unique as the next. None of this size 0 preference that's prevalent in the media.

The Music Industry


Recently, one of my favourite singers, Ellie Goulding, came forward to the press with a statement about the lack of female artists/bands at music festivals and its true as only 12% of festival acts last year were female. I personally feel as though this year hasn't been as bad and improvements are being made. V festival has had years upon years worth of strong female acts including headliners and glastonbury is slowly pulling through.

When Reading & Leeds posted their first line-up announcement, tweeters picked up on the fact that there was only one female act. This spread like wildfire throughout twitter, and by the time the next line-up announcement came around, there were a decent amount of female acts on the bill. You can't help but wonder though, had tweeters, including female artists, not picked up on this, the line-up poster may not have been so equal. Download Festival is possibly the worst example of a festival having a lack of female acts, with the rock and metal genre being heavily dominated by male acts. The acts with the most headline appearences are all male rock bands - Muse, Foo Fighters etc. The reason being? This is what sells, it's what we're used to and a business looking to make money knows this. The way to combat this misrepresentation of gender in the festival industry and even the music industry by in large, is to teach young girls that guitars, bass & drums are not masculine instruments, (the classic boy & girl things that we're taught from a young age) and that they can make it in music too, even if it appears to be a male-dominated industry.

Marina Diamandis, who is such a huge source of inspiration for me, has addressed the lack of female acts as well at festivals, and I wanted to discuss her second album, Electra Heart a little bit. If you haven't listened to it, you need to. It's such a work of art and is her way exploring all of the archetypes/stereotypes of being a female - from the prom queen idle-teen, to the seductive homewrecker, to the maneater, to the housewife and it definitely highlights how women are often put into boxes and the subsequent identity problems that can form as a result of this as women begin to try and box themselves.
For her music video for 'How To Be A Heartbreaker' she spins the industry norm of half-naked hot woman surrounding a man on its head by dancing, fully clothed, alongside half-naked men. She was even told she was too 'ugly' and to halt the release of the music video - but she released it anyway, like a boss.

In the Workplace & In Politics

Moving away from music and tv and onto politics, we have a huge lack of female politicians. Of course, there are female politicians...but the way the media portrays them as erratic, irrational, experiencing PMS and therefore discredits them. Take Hilary Clinton for example, I'm not into American Politics so I have no idea whether she was a decent candidate, but what I do know is the way the media portrayed her was less about her policies and more about her incapability as she's a woman:



There's also a significant pay gap between the genders, this is an issue that's beginning to really be highlighted yet it still exists in 2017. It's alarming.



Summary

I feel as though women and men are trapped in these falseties of gender roles, influencing their behaviour towards one another. Whilst women are led to believe their appearance is paramount and their attractiveness towards men comes first and foremost before ambition, leading to a diminished sense of self worth and even self-objectification as they desperately try and achieve the unachievable standards of 'beauty' portrayed by the media. Men are trapped believing their masculinity should be at the forefront of their being, they should keep emotions under lock & key and that the more appealing the women they're associated with, the better the prize and the bigger the boost to their social standing.

I personally feel as though we are heading in the right direction, but we're not quite there yet. On a positive note, we wouldn't be taught about this in history or media if those that set the curriculum didn't want a change, but a lot of media sources like Hollywood still feature what sells.

As it stands at the moment, if too many women from this generation and the generation that follow get too warped by these falsities in the media then things could easily take a U-Turn. We've got a long way before the most fundamental part of our society is equalised & if the media won't do it first - we will. Misogyny has no place in 2017. Like the strong suffragette women, we need to keep building on their work, equalise the playing field, end the gender pay gap, stop this embedded culture of gender stereotypes and set out better futures for the generations that follow.



Interesting articles & documentaries:
Masculinity, Gender Roles & TV in the 1950s
Miss Representation (Also available on Netflix)
Gender roles in the media

If you've got any interesting articles, documentaries or musicians you'd like to recommend or want to chime in with your own opinion, feel free to pop them down in the comments below.

P.S there were so many elements I wanted to cover in this post, but it'd be as long as a dissertation if I were cover all areas.

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4 comments

  1. I agree with you. The gender norms are what makes it so hard to move on. And why feminism is so important. Equality doesn't only mean women have the same rights as men but it also works to the way round. Men should be allowed to cry, to like whatever they want, act the way they want, etc xx corinne

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  2. I loved this!! I think it's also important to note as well that, just like Pride, as long as there are women in the world who are still discriminated against and face problems (especially issues such as FGM and marital rape) we will always need feminism. This is a super important post, thank you xxx

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  3. Yeah women don't always have to act all girly and Men should be able to show their feelings without being judged because they are sensitive.

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  4. I am such a big supporter of the feminist movement! We 100% need it, not only in first world countries but in the less developed areas of the world

    ReplyDelete

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