Colour me in kindness. Cover me in love. I am blessed.
Like through the jointed grass
The long stemmed deer
But a hound has already found her flattened tracks
And he’s running through the fields towards her
– it’s been a long time since I read the Ilyad but I think I’m enjoying this ‘excavation’ of it by Alice Oswald a lot more.
‘You don’t need to be “empowered” when you are, plainly and simply, powerful.’
“Every day is a school day and no two are the same”
She says I swear too much
She says a lot of things
Well I’d swear every other word if I could
For her, I’ll make an attempt
(NB: this is a mess of poorly formed arguments / topics and along with it should be the knowledge that i want women everywhere to make their own decisions and be informed. Also: my feminism is about every woman and that means I can see that I am privileged and that there are women in other cultures who’s struggle is more immediate than what I’m writing about.)
So there’s always someone to bash Kim kardashian, there’s always someone to say that women who are naked in public in any medium are “part of the problem”. By the problem they mean the sexualisation and objectification of young women and girls.
Can we have a little side note here that obviously the history of oppression of women in their entirety and the prevalence of rape culture in modern society is probably more of a reason for this twisted situation we are in with objectification and continued oppression of women, than naked selfies and hot celebrities. Having said this I’m writing waffle about the slightly more shallow latter rather than the substantial subject of the former.
I think this is a split issue. I think there’s the issue of nudity and the issue of sexism and gender inequality, sexualisation and objectification.
Nudity should not be an issue for anyone. Tha fact people are shamed for showing their natural bodies pains me. Nudity – if it is at the informed free will of the mind attached to the body that is uncovered is completely inoffensive and natural. I reckon it would help young girls to accept themselves and believe that they have the ability and freedom to do anything they want (within the realms of morals and safety) if there was a more varied demographic of naked people to be seen in non sexualised situations. Not just the Kim Kardashian’s of this world but everyone else, other valuable members of society.
Women are not a commodity to be controlled and fashioned into what the majority of men want to buy. Not something to be seen only on man’s terms. It’s Kim K’s right to post naked photos of her own body on the Internet.
The fact that female employees in big high end department stores in London have to look a certain way- for example red lipstick high heels – doesn’t help. The idea that girls need to be pretty doesn’t help. The fact that a female’s life is quite significantly different to her counter parts if she is not conventionally pretty… And the flip side of this coin – the fact that a girl’s life is different if she is pretty and is deemed sexy and attractive by societies norms- will mean that her world view is skewed that she might not be able to fend for herself so readily due to having someone willing to do whatever it is for her. Potentially there will be more people around her who are there for that empty beauty alone. I’m not saying someone is empty because they’re attractive but I’m saying that there will be people there for the physical attributes who won’t be looking past them. It doesn’t help.
Personal semi relevant bollocks time: I briefly struggled with not feeling “pretty/sexy/ womanly enough” for the first time in the past year. I never cared before- I was late to discover the fun in make up, late to develop a gratitude for the parts of my face that I liked-I have been a tomboy for every one of my 25 years and my happiness or lack of it with my body has always been more about how i feel than how i look. But there was a brief time relatively recently when I compared myself to another person and that was a mistake. A mistake based around momentarily succumbing to all the conditioning I’ve experienced to make me think I need to be pretty to be worth something to another human being.
But this need on a societal level for females to be physically attractive to anyone but themselves is a big part of the problem. It goes hand in hand with the sexualisation of young girls because they’re looking up to a certain type of woman. The men in their lives (be them tangible or the men that shape the images they see) are saying they need to look / behave like a certain type of woman. And if they don’t have men in their lives to tell them the opposite – That it’s not about looking a certain way it’s about accepting and appreciating the way you are – then it’ll be the age old traditions of media, that are still supported by the men who control that media, that reinforce the image young women think is the ideal.
I’m not saying this means on an individual level that we can’t decide to do certain things or make ourselves feel, and therefore look, good to please a male human because I think that’s different to compromising yourself as a woman to please the negative collective oppressive male. At the same time though and underlying all of this is that if someone is aware of the pressures they are under and are happy to change themselves according to norms established in a society oppressive to females then that’s their right and above all I’m for someone having total choice and control over their own lives.
I don’t know what goes on inside my boyfriends brain but he makes me feel beautiful in a way that feels like it’s me. It’s not my face. If he were out for a pretty face there are plenty of prettier faces- those that really love me know not to beat around that particular bush. And he compliments me when I feel good which helps reinforce higher self confidence. This matters to me because I want ME and the things I’m doing / that make me happy to bring him joy and if that includes elements of my physical being then perfect 👍 however I’m not naive enough to think that doesn’t mean that he and everyone else can still acknowledge that there are people who have won the DNA lottery in terms of physical appearance and whereas I can catch a ball, talk an angry man down and like getting my hands dirty, I am not one of those people.
I was discussing this recently with someone who sent me this.
I’m digressing but I wish it was easier for young people to find their own groove. To buck the trends of the culture around them and to just find what they enjoy and what makes them feel good and makes their life rich. For a little while I did this by not drinking alcohol and following a vegan lifestyle. When I was a teenager I did it by cutting my hair short and wearing mostly clothes from an army surplus store, tammy girl and dr Martens. But for me I’ve learnt it’s about balance. If there’s a part of our normative culture that I don’t want to be a part of then I won’t do it.
It’d be great to find a way to explain that sexy doesn’t just mean Elle Macpherson, Rosie Huntingdon Whiteley or Kylie Jenner. And that nudity doesn’t always equal sex. It’s real people happy with themselves and doing what they love and what rewards them. It’s being strong and healthy and motivated.
Having gratefully ridden Doc’s nippy Carbon number the other day and feeling relatively insecure it was lovely to be back in the comfort of something that fits me and has the flexibility of steel.
Despite my grey outlook this morning I’ve had an exemplary day and it’s how I mean to go on – not all rides, bubble baths and reading alone but the majority of the day productive, exercise and treating myself right. Hopefully next Sunday I can do similar but with my number one.