Ideas and images of female power are things I have noticed and thought about a lot more recently.
It is something that I think as young people, we openly need to highlight more, especially how our own actions on a day to day basis play a part in the wider picture. Lads mags for example – is a topic that raised quite a lot discussion on my university campus last year.
As individuals our power lies in our choices, and this power is transmitted through who and what we choose to elevate as being desirable and attractive in a woman. What do we define as being attractive? Who are the faces of female power today? When I think of these faces and in turn, these symbols of female power, the likes of Katy Perry, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian & Nicki Minaj are some of what come to mind. These are some of the most followed people, let alone females, on twitter for example. So, are these women empowered in their status as symbols of female power? And why is that they are elevated to those positions? If we’re honest, it’s fairly simple. Mostly, its their looks and sexual appeal. These are the images that we know them by and thus, the terms through which they are sold to us.
There is no denying it, they are all very attractive women. And this is not about blaming any one group in particular or judging anyone, but it is time for us to think more carefully in who we give power to through our attention and choices. By giving power to these people, we give power to the images they represent. This is the signal we send out, of what we want our women to ideally be. And we carry this signal out everywhere we go.
Take a trip to any nightclub on most nights out – who are the most popular girls? Who do we – as males – give most of our attention to?
Quite frankly, usually, it’s the ones with the most sexual appeal – dressed provocatively or with the most flesh on show. However, if we use our power as individuals, as men, to give these girls our time and attention and spend most of our time chasing after only the girls that are physically attractive – we are sending out a clear signal. And in this very nonchalant statement, a subtle shift in power is created. Our women are reduced to an object, a subject of sexual desire, something to be had rather than won or earned, with the man therefore elevated by being the seeker of this possession.
It’s not a judgement of anyone, and I’m not saying what is right or wrong here, I’m just being honest. What I’m concerned with is when as a culture, we elevate and celebrate women to such high status, but solely on this physical basis. When we appreciate and admire them only in terms of external aesthetics, but not the internal, we are taking away their power and reducing their value to that of mere objects. As if our fascination ends beneath the layer of make up and penetrates no deeper, literally only ever scratching the surface, judging everything underneath as redundant and not worth the same affections. As a consequence, when we do interact with women in our day to day lives, these are the images and symbols we set them against. These are the unattainable ideals that we judge them against. To look as sexy and have curves like Kim Kardashian, to dance for us as provocatively as Rihanna or Shakira. When we judge them on that basis alone there is a huge problem. We need to delve deeper. We need to be more selective in who we empower as an attractive woman.
And whilst it may attract more male attention and popularity, dressing a way that may be more sexually appealing, isn’t always strengthening your power as a woman but can in fact be taking it away. By buying into these persona’s sold to us by the mass media, you are in fact reducing yourself to an object. You are buying into those terms and promoting them through your very existence. Though men might desire you more, it is only a desire to have you as a sexual object – how many times have we heard people say ‘would love to do her’, when an attractive woman walks by? It is something we all do as men, but why? When we hear these statements, why don’t we speak up instead of laughing along (and thus giving our consent) with it? I’m sure we wouldn’t ever want to hear our sisters or mothers talked about in that manner. Yet we still behave differently when it comes to our interactions with women in our relationships and sexual conquests.
The labels of beauty that we give to people are powerful things. We need to use this power, in who we give our time, attention and respect to, to empower and push forward the women with not just looks, but intelligence, personality and integrity too.