Of course wage parity is not the only problem we have in the US. Let's face it often women, especially those we personally don't know, are not thought of as human beings, they are objectified. This of course hurts both men and women. From an early age I (as many other boys I know) grew up loving comic books. You really could not beat X-men or Batman in my young mind. Yet this exposes girls and boys to completely unrealistic sexualized clothing and bodies. And it only gets worse with age. Men in increasing numbers are using online pornography at astounding rates (Utah is number one!), I could and probably will make this topic into a whole other blog post but needless to say porn is powerfully addicting and harmful. It hurts the men who view it and deeply hurts women both directly and indirectly creating a culture where objectification is at its pinnacle.
Forgetting porn and comics for a second, how are women described? Nine times out of ten the first adjective you will hear about a female has to do with physical appearance. Is this true for us guys? In my experience no. Last year at Sundance there was a wonderful documentary called Miss Representation that really delves into how this impacts our society, women and especially our girls. I highly recommend at least watching the extended trailer.
The media, in all its diverse forms, is a powerful influence on how we see and think about the world and each other yet even the "liberal media" is very much failing women. This past year only two of the best picture Oscar nominated movies passed "The Bechdel Test", which is a very basic measurement used to test a movie's female character involvement. And we're not talking Michael Bay movies here we're talking about the best picture!
Yet it is not all misery and misogyny there are positive powers at work in the realm of popular culture brining awareness and acting as agents of change. Decades ago John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote a song called "Woman is the N-word of the world" which you can check out here along with John sharing his insights on the subject. It's a pretty powerful idea that women across the world are treated worse regardless of the circumstances and how their male counterparts are seen.
In a similar vein to the late Beatle Half the Sky authors Nicholas D Kristoff and Sheryl Wudunn examine how women are discriminated against here in the US and across the world with devastating consequences. One stat they share that blew my mind was that more women have died from being seen as "less than" in one way or another in the last century than all the men that have died in all the wars that have been fought! What message is more important than this one? The "girl effect" is yet another wonderful example of an organization of individuals bringing awareness and a message of change through the power of media and of course it is one of a plethora of other groups rising up for change being a force for good in this harsh world.
Yet for every site on the internet spreading the good news of peace, change and progress unfortunately there are many more that propagate objectification, violence, and hatred toward women. What sites do you visit and support?
It is important that each of us examine our own lives and thoughts. All we do has an impact on our own souls and those around us. How do we think about others especially those we don't know? Do we see them as human beings or as objects, sexual and/or economic things? When we look in the mirror what do we see? An inherently wonderful and beautiful divine being OR a creature that is failing on many levels to meet the "ideal" expectation in our hyper competitive society? Let us reach out toward ourselves and others especially those that have been oppressed and harmed with acceptance, love and compassion.
Stay tuned for my final post on women where I talk about Jesus, Muhammad, Joseph Smith and much more. As always your comments, questions, insights are much appreciated.