“Feminism” Criticism

Up until recently, I considered myself a semi-feminist. Not to the point of bra burning per say, but more than the average girl-you-might-meet-at-a-party that doesn’t start telling you why Katy Perry on College Game Day was degrading and embarrassing to women. My boyfriend can attest to this, as he’s listened to many-a-rant about the bias in media, politics, or film when it comes to women, or my ramblings about the general behavior/lack of intelligence when it comes to some men vs. some women. If you asked him, he’d probably tell you I was a feminist.

But this past week, “feminism” has gone overboard. DESPITE the rousing and inspiring speech by the incomparable Emma Watson to the UN last month on the importance of making men part of the conversation when it comes to feminism, it feels like I’ve been overrun with stupidity in the fight for “equality.”

First example is of course, the “Catcalling” video, which if you haven’t seen it, here it is:

My issue with this is simple. This was a video taken over the course of TEN HOURS, and cut down to 2 minutes. I feel almost certain, that any woman or man of any gender or race for that matter walking around a city, alone, for TEN HOURS, would probably have at least a few interactions or attempted interactions whether they like it or not. Is that wrong? Are the people who are trying to sell her something as she passes their store doing something offensive to her? Is someone who says “Hi, how are you!” really trying to get in her pants? Because referring to all 100 (again, not in 2 minutes but over TEN HOURS) attempted interactions as “catcalls” seems just plain untrue.

Now the person who followed her for 5 minutes is pretty absurd, I will say that, and that would make even the strongest of women uncomfortable. That is a legitimately creepy situation. But as a woman who lives in a city, who walks around a lot, and who sometimes has been told to “smile” or “Hi, how are you” or “you look beautiful,” IT’S REALLY NOT THE CRISIS SITUATION THAT THIS VIDEO PORTRAYS. Has a legitimate “catcall” ever led to a robbery, a rape, or even a sexual assault? Should all women be walking around in fear of catcalls? I feel as though living in a city you build a thick skin, and these are the types of things that happen sometimes. Maybe it’s not right, maybe it’s not just, but as I said, I would bet that a man would have interactions not all that different from some of these in terms of strangers trying to talk to you. Being friendly, or forward, or a salesman on a city street is not a crime nor should it be (though I wish some salesmen on the streets could be arrested for being so annoying).

I would like to see this same video if it were a woman walking through the suburbs. She probably would not have even 10 interactions, let alone “100 catcalls” and that’s just a sheer example of the difference in terms of just population and location. The same way she has the right to walk around alone looking pissed off, the people around her have the right to talk to whoever they want. And above all, the media conversations and backlash for this have been so absurdly extreme from some groups, it’s like they’re the ONLY voices that matter. I bet there are some women who appreciate catcalls, or getting attention in public like this. Does that make them bad people? Should we explain to all men that only certain women like that, and you have to find those women and catcall ONLY them?

Once again, I don’t support catcalling and I certainly don’t support the man who followed her around for 5 minutes. However, it seems like the whole procedure of this video is misleading, and really isn’t proving anything in terms of social issues. Rather, the fact that “if you walk around the most populated city in America for 10 hours, people on the street will try to talk to you.”

And now, for a hilarious and spot on parody of this video from Funny or Die:

My second feminist issue this week is the backlash from this Victoria’s Secret ad that reads ” The Perfect ‘Body'”

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The reason I mostly am annoyed by the “feminist” backlash about this is because it’s based on a misunderstanding. Apparently a group of young girls and whoever else, have made a petition wanting Victoria’s Secret to apologize for the ad where they are portraying lingerie models as having perfect bodies. I will admit that the first time I saw this ad, I thought “Well that’s a bit much.. a little presumptuous.. a little unnecessary… they’ll probably get in SOME hot water for this..” and I was correct. And good for a group of young women who don’t want these “values” placed on their young minds, they are smarter than most girls their age. HOWEVER…

The ad is a play on words, because they are advertising (remember, this is an AD not a researched article about bodies) the “Body by Victoria” collection of lingerie. Hence, the quotations around Body. Now, I know how it looks, but technically, that is what’s happening. And if the issue everyone has is with these women who have bodies like this existing in general, why not take issue with the whole catalog? Or any lingerie ad? The whole thing seems rather misguided, and once again every-crazy-feminist-ever shows up on comment sections, message boards, 24-hours news channels talking about all the injustice.

And now for the hilarious and spot on parody of this.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/victorias-secret-under-fire-for-perfect-body-campa,37354/

To me, it just feels like we’ve lost sight of what are really feminist issues, or what are really assaults to womankind. I can think of about 10 other insulting-to-women videos/tv shows/movies/ads that are more of a legitimate issue than both of these. It seems like every week there’s another ridiculous “anti-women” thing popping up that is propelled into “news” by networks looking for something to fill airtime, and as a result, blowing it out of proportion. The more stories like these blown out of proportion “in the name of women!”, and the more overly aggressive people we have bitching about these things in public spheres, the more we as women feed the stigma we want to fight. Why can’t every “feminist” be like Emma Watson, who instead of arguing over a lingerie ad or faux catcalling, chooses her moment to address that equal rights should be a concern for everyone? Focusing less on the current faults, and more on future progress? I feel like getting that message across might lead to less of the other. And there will probably always be sexualization of the female body (and there has been for EONS) because there will also always be women who want and enjoy a career that perpetuates that too.

Hate what I’m saying and think I’m a complete idiot? Agree that these were a little blown out of proportion? Let me know! Thanks for reading!

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2 comments

  1. It’s funny – I’ve written articles on both examples on why they really are important. I think that both the ad and catcalling is a problem and I don’t think that we should ignore them. As long as we ignore everyday sexism we will not have achieved completed equality. Check them out if you want to see my side of the argument.

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    1. You know, that’s a great point. I don’t necessarily think they should be ignored, more so I wish the reaction was more education and information and less casual rage and ranting (such as this), from the vocal public. Every silly talk show seems to take the stance of “MEN ARE BAD because catcalling” and in my mind, that’s not the take away.

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