About a decade ago, low-brow, middle aged profiteers were feeling concerned about the sudden, strong mistrust surrounding the Sex Sells cultural giant. Suddenly, people were starting to realize that degrading young women for profit was flat-out unacceptable. People were starting to demand SUBSTANCE and INTELLIGENCE from the female protagonists in their lives. Whatever was a cheap entertainment industry that, itself, had neither substance nor intelligence, to do?
So after what I’m sure were dozens of late night emergency brainstorms over cold Thai food, these same low-brow, middle aged profiteers decided that, rather than fight the inevitable, this “cute little feminist trend” would be a fabulous thing to exploit and a marketing master plan was born. Female empowerment did not have to be the enemy of entertainment if they could just subtly and cleverly shift the definition of empowerment to mean the exact opposite of what it was supposed to.
Welcome to Wrecking Ball Feminism. Where women who are tired of being treated like sandwich-making, beer-getting, bitch-slapped prostitutes are convinced by a series of very clever male-centric marketing ploys, that being treated like a prostitute is empowering.
This is not to be confused with the very substantial truth that assault is assault and abuse is abuse, no matter how a woman (or man) chooses to dress. A miniskirt is not an invitation for sexual assault or even sexual insult. Unless your knuckles drag when you walk, this is something that should be well understood in today’s culture. The right to dress in a way that makes you comfortable is not the issue here. Women and a good deal of the men who love them were already up in arms about this truism. Hell, they were angry enough to stage parades. The idea that clothing does not imply consent was a topic on fire, and rightly so. But my oh my, what a great place to start from a creepy, misogynistic marketing perspective!
And this is where the beast would sink its teeth. They already had a firm support base of well-meaning individuals and those individuals seemed to hold some semblance of cultural influence. The entire marketing base was ready-made and waiting for them. All they had to do was exploit it.
Women are more objectified in today’s media than ever before. We are more degraded, more two dimensional, more foolish. But we have been told that, hey, it’s ok. A woman should be able to be a “slut” if she really wants to. (And fuck am I getting sick and tired of that word…) That to even suggest that someone is trying to harm her or to pimp her is now somehow anti-feminist. “Miley Cyrus is a strong, empowered young woman and that’s why she is a model for today’s strong, empowered young women! You can tell how empowered and strong she is by how she allowed a pack of 40 year old profiteers to convince her that being naked on a wrecking ball was empowering.”
Marketing like this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. As someone who cut her teeth in the marketing world, this is sleazy marketing 101. Take something that is important to your target demographic and change its definition to suit your agenda.
This is nothing new. Look at how religion has been warped and twisted over the years by this very same technique. You think major world religions started off as hateful excuses for carnage, death and subjugation? Absolutely not. They started off as a peaceful means of protest against hateful excuses for carnage, death and subjugation.
We humans are terrible at learning from our mistakes, mostly because we still don’t quite understand them.
The worst thing about all this is that it is a blow, a MAJORLY POWERFUL and TARGETED blow, for feminism. There is a group of creepy little men out there that are successfully convincing the average mind that feminism is not real feminism unless the woman is being objectified in the process, to the extent that those who speak against this monster are now being accused of misogyny.
Being used and abused is not a form of self-empowerment, even if you think it’s what you want. And quite frankly, I find the trend of saying it is to be profoundly disturbing. There is a world of ruling class douchebags who will subtly tell you to dance for their nickels and make you really, really believe that it was your choice all along. And worse than that, they will make you believe that by objectifying yourself for their amusement, you are somehow empowering yourself and the people you feel you represent. To the point where you will accuse those of trying to return you to your true self-empowerment of keeping you back, holding you down. It is reminiscent of the “black tv shows” of the early to mid 1990s that the average white guy believed empowered black people by slamming their two dimensional stereotypes on network television as a cheap laugh for the honkys. We know this now, we’ve finally figured it out. That wasn’t cool. At all. But to have brought this up in the 90s was about as good an idea as branding your forehead with a swastika. To speak out against network racism was racist.
You have been brainwashed into supporting the very culture of hate and abuse you claim to despise.
There is no “right” way to be an empowered female other than to live your life the way you feel comfortable living your life. If all women could do that, there would be no need for feminism in the first place. We need to stop allowing men to define feminism.