Updated: Nov 5, 2019
Misogyny and the objectification of women are deep-seated cultural diseases that have been imbedded in our society for centuries. Women objectified and broken down as mere body parts that exist only for men’s pleasure. Even with all the progress women have made in the world, we still are not valued and treated fairly by our male counterparts. Pay inequity, the glass ceiling, sexism in all parts of society are aspects of misogyny that keep women feeling like second class citizens in this country.
It appears women are only loved and adored when we are society’s standard of beautiful, half naked, or giving people something to look at. Observe the movies, television shows and even social media; sex sells and it’s usually the women who are doing the “selling.” Even though we are far past the days of Women’s Lib and burning bras, there are still many steps to take before we get to the promised land.
From early on in life, girls are taught to act, dress, and speak a certain way. “Don’t wear this.”, “Don’t sit like that.” “Girls are supposed to act this way.” Those are common instructions I can remember being told when I was an adolescent. I never questioned why my grandmother and other women in my life told me this. I just fell in line and did as I was told.
Growing up I started to realize that it was not because of me or anything they felt I did wrong. It was so I wouldn’t “agitate” boys. “Cover up so boys won’t be distracted!” “Sit this way so boys won’t stare!” “Don’t act like that or boys will behave inappropriately.” Why are we to adjust ourselves to accommodate boys? Shouldn’t boys be taught not to be inappropriate, make rude comments, and have self-control?
Even now some 20+ years later, I can read off the list of my daughter’s school dress code where 90 percent of the clothes that are banned are girls’ clothes: camisoles, anything that shows shoulders, any type of skirts or shorts that are not below the knees, etc. Why is society placing these rules on little girls? How is my daughter wearing spaghetti straps to school hindering her education? It’s not, these rules are in place because we live in a society where rape culture is the norm and women and girls should be cautious not to provoke the males.
Rape culture, simply stated, is the concept in which rape and misogyny are normalized and accepted because of society’s approach to gender and sexuality. Victim blaming, victim shaming, slut shaming, all fall under rape culture. “She was asking for it.” “Look at what she’s wearing.” “She said ‘No.,’ but really meant ‘Yes.’” “Boys will be boys.” If you’ve said any of these statements yourself, you have propagated rape culture.
Rape culture is much deeper than what’s stated in this post. However, the point here is to bring awareness to a problem that many people don’t even realize they’re apart of. Once we’re aware of the problem that is rape culture and the many ways we’ve all helped to perpetrate it, we can then work to alter our thinking and then our behavior. Change the ‘boys will be boys’ mentality, start holding men accountable for their thinking and actions, and start calling out anyone who is perpetuating rape culture. It is important to reiterate here that women are just as culpable as men in perpetrating rape culture.
Raise Our Boys, Change Our Men
Boys are taught early on that being aggressive and liking several girls is acceptable—it’s just what boys do. Girls are taught if a boy bothers you or hits you that just means he likes you. We are raising our boys to objectify and abuse women while at the same time raising our girls to accept such behavior and ideologies.
We make excuses for and allow our boys to make excuses for their ill-treatment of girls. To add salt to the wound, we then blame the girls for being mistreated. We place such heavy burdens on our girls, going so far as to make small children responsible for the actions of grown men. Girls are chastised for dressing, walking, or even just being a certain way around adult men. This mentality raises two very serious questions: (1) why are girls being sexualized at such young ages? and (2) why do we continue to find it acceptable for a grown man to be, apparently, uncontrollably enticed by a young girl? Those questions raise additional, but broader questions: (1) Why are women dispensable?; (2) Why aren’t we loved, valued, and protected?; (3) Why do we coddle our boys—who are supposed to be tough, strong, and unemotional—but abuse, neglect, and abandon our girls, who are supposed to be soft, fragile, and passive? We, as women, are dehumanized and demonized when we are the ones disrespected and mistreated.
We must raise our sons to respect and love women. Just as importantly, we must raise our daughters that they are not responsible for how a man behaves. Our daughters, sisters, mothers, and aunts are not here for men’s sexual gratification. have to teach our boys to respect and love women and not just for sexual gratification. Teach our boys to respect the word no. Teach our boys to protect the women in their lives. Teach our boys that women are not things. When boys are raised to value women and treat them as equal, they have a better chance of becoming men who do the same. Giving boys the right tools will help build great men.
Break the Cycle
We all have to be in this fight together. Women and men must coexist so that as a society we can prosper. I teach my daughter to be respectful of everyone, not just a certain group of people. We are all humans and have work to do while we are on this planet. No one is better than the other. I believe it is never too late to change and it all starts with the mind. Changing the way we think about women will change the way we talk to women, how we view women, and how we treat women.
Ending rape culture and misogynistic thinking does not only protect girls and women. It also serves to protect our boys and men. You must remember that the girls of today will grow up and raise the boys of tomorrow. Do we want insecure, emotionally and psychologically damaged women marrying our sons, brothers, uncles, fathers? Do we want them raising our sons, grandsons, cousins?
Change the narrative and stop feeding into the stereotypes. Not all girls are these delicate little flowers who need rescuing and not all boys are these aggressive little troublemakers. Give our children a chance to not be boxed in with what the world wants them to be. We have to be forward thinkers and progressive movers if we are to win this fight in inequality. Cancel the misogynistic views of society, end rape culture, and love our women, not for what they give us but because of who they are.