I thought of this question after watching a rather disturbing and graphic rape scene in the movie ‘Showgirl.’ One of the showgirls hit it off with a famous singer and after an evening of flirting, dancing and drinking they went into an empty bedroom. Throughout the scenes with these two characters the audience can see that both characters are willing participants in what is increasingly leading to a sex scene. Then the singers two bodyguards come in and they forced the woman onto the bed and then ensues violently raping her and beating her up. After her ordeal is over she stumbles back into the party where her friend immediately runs over to help her.
I found these scenes disturbing, sickening and quite frankly difficult to watch. Immediately after I couldn’t help but wonder to what extent our gender makes us vulnerable in a Western society or indeed any society. There is of course a distinct different between sex and gender. The former being a biological distinction and the latter being what society dictates in terms of stereotyping and roles.
Now, the afore-mentioned scene with respect to my questions refers to women’s gender but this question of course must be asked in terms of men too. In the West we are bombarded with copious amounts of advertising that is full of sexual and graphic imagery with a back drop of women’s magazines that are full with the notion of ‘perfect’ women. I am not suggesting that advertising no matter what it’s nature fuels sexual deviance or rape because to say such a thing would be absurd but in a highly sexualised society with advertising and media all around us constantly does it entrench certain stereotypes within us all? Do we still see women as the weak and passive ones? Do we still perceive men to be the tough and leading ones? Of course these are massive generalisations and a distortion of reality but our media still enhances these stereotypes and roles. I’m wondering to what extent the constant bombardment of such stereotypes has on the general public. This of course leads perfectly into my assumption that thinkers and activists are less susceptible to such propaganda. To what extent is even this assertion true?
I find myself thinking increasingly of male vulnerability as I was flicking through a Facebook page the other day and I stumbled across a picture of a man with a finely toned torso holding a card which read: ‘Sex sells (to women too).’ I would never have considered such a point before but actually this picture spoke volumes.
I literally just laughed out loud to myself because of the next thought I had in my head. It seems that most of the criticisms I have of pretty much anything ultimately lead back to critique of capitalism. The exploitation of bodies and not just women’s bodies, sells. It’s as simple as that. Whilst this may be great within the framework of capitalism in terms of enhancing profits and revenue, it is having a very deep underlying volcano which is readying to erupt. Once it does it will expose to the masses the decay in the moral fabric of our society. A society which allows exploitation. A society in which sex sells and that’s okay because the sex industry in terms of prostitution and pornography and one of the most lucrative business markets in the world. A society in which when I watch a movie I’m left asking just how safe both men and women feel in our society both in terms of physical and mental health.
The solution? Well, that’s easy. This is quite obviously one of those easier-said-than-done statements but if something isn’t worth fighting for well, it is not worth having. We need to educate everyone. Education is empowerment and liberty. It’s so easy to even begin to start opening people’s minds. On a daily basis we are witness to sexist language and stereotypes. I wonder how many of us actually make a point of challenging it? Now that would a fantastic start. To everyday, challenge any form of discriminatory behaviour.
I’ll be damned if I’ll have my metaphorical children growing up in a world that cares more about their outer beauty than their inner beauty.
Edit 1: It has come to my attention that the movie ‘Showgirl’ was released 17 years ago. This is clearly something that I overlooked but even so over the course of the last 17 years we can see how much the media in general has become increasingly sexualised and subtly telling people, both men and women what it is to be ‘perfect’ and ‘attractive’ and indeed outlining what does not fit in those categories.
Edit 2: I am compelled to add another addition to the article as again, I may have simplified something too much.
“There is of course a distinct different between sex and gender. The former being a biological distinction and the latter being what society dictates in terms of stereotyping and roles.”
My friend wrote on my Twitter that he agreed with and liked my blog post however, with respect to the above section he believes that:
“My gender is an internal sense of self and nothing to do with society.”
Whilst I completely agree and understand where he is coming from, surely society makes a point of your gender no longer being about just you and looking at your gender a group as a whole and manipulating that through stereotyping and traditional roles?