1 Aug 2007

The perpetual pendulum of female empowerment

Here's a clip from a Canadian TV program on CTV. It's an interview with the author of Girls Gone Mild, Wendy Shalit, and she talks about the oversexualization of women in recent years. Examples such as Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Rihanna are all contributing to the popular feeling, regardless of whether one is religious, agnostic or atheist, that we've gone too far with a sex obsession, diminishing rather than empowering young women.
  • "I think people have a problem with the oversexualization [...] but we don't really have an alternative because every time someone proposes an alternative, what happens? She's called 'repressed'!"
Basically, by emphasizing so much on the sexual power of women, other good qualities are downplayed like individuality and intelligence. The notions of women empowerment had at some point been translated into "sexual empowerment" but now it's starting to look more and more like sexual exploitation, the ironic opposite of girl power. What does this have to do with history? A picture is worth a thousand words...

The above pictures show examples of Victorian fashion in the 19th century versus the Egyptian fashion millenia beforehand to show how different times view things differently. A typical Victorian lady would find the Egyptian painting vulgar and overtly sexual simply because of the exposed breasts. The Egyptian lady might feel that the Victorian lady is, well, aside from repressed, certainly very overheated when bundled up in all those clothes.

The constant pendulum of the image of women between the extremes of repression and sexual exploitation will probably go on forever and ever. The nature of this change is in the fact that human morals are not a science but a matter of interpretation for each successive generation. However, dare I say, there is something to be valued in balance rather than extremism either way.


Post a Comment