Women in Media: How Does it Make You Feel?
Driving home from school last Friday night, I found myself stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for blocks on end. There were bright red taillights and the flashing of yellow turning lights illuminating the dark, night sky as far as the eye could see, Occasionally, a honking driver would spout off and lay on the horn, loudly letting all of us hear his frustration. Instead of daydreaming while I sat in this annoying clump of traffic, I raised my eyes and looked around me.
Staring at me were larger than life images of a woman wearing only teeny, tiny panties and around her neck covering her breasts were three high fashion logoed handbags. Another ad in the same store was a photo of a woman bent over with her breasts completely exposed and the slit in her skirt reaching her crotch. Beautiful women were everywhere in the store windows lining the street. Most were in provocative, demeaning poses and wearing very little.
My outrage boiled over thinking about the way society treats women. I am a survivor of sexual and physical abuse. Tonight, my heart was racing and my blood was pulsing at the frustration of it all. The pictures in the store windows are false images of a real woman. We are human beings with hopes, dreams and fears. We are more than sexual objects.
Sadly, I know far too many women who have been victims of sexual abuse, rape or molestation. I have to use two hands to count – my sister, my niece, my daughter’s friend and several of my friends. The list is never ending, and those are only the victims who have spoken out.
I am guessing most of you know someone who has been raped or sexually molested. And many of us have been raped or abused ourselves. Some of us can talk about it, and others still keep it hidden. I can speak about it, but I suffered quietly for many years. I have been to counseling, and it has helped me greatly. I can speak aloud about the abuse that happened to me and knew it wasn’t my fault.
I expect there always will be moments in life that are going to make me want to not just speak but to scream the injustice I feel. The wounds to my heart and soul have healed, but every now and again they crack open just the tiniest bit. And boy, does it hurt.
My hope is that all women can heal from these sexual crimes and come together to create a sisterhood to prevent violence against women. We need to support each other, share our stories and stand against the image that we are simply sexual beings. We are far more.
We can begin by taking a step towards increasing awareness about the sexual objectification of women. Notice the ads, magazines, tv shows and movies depiction of women. Make a mental note of how you feel about the images you see and discuss it with your friends, family and loved ones. Remember that old camp song – it only takes a spark to get a fire going? It’s true.