I joined a sports-fan site for a while but the derogatory references to women drove me out. When my responses named and corrected certain comments, I was told by another contributor: it’s a sense of humour – get one! I noticed later that the moderator of the group lay out some rules about these kinds of comments because ‘women are members of the group’ which made me wonder if it’s ok then for men to talk like this when there are no women around … this insidious misogyny is getting harder and harder to bear.
As I’m sure you’ve experienced, when you think about a blue door, all you see are blue doors. So, it’s no surprise I started picking up on other examples of rampant sexual objectification. Staying on the sports theme (the Leafs are still in the playoffs and the Blue Jays will start winning soon), we might think we are a step ahead with women announcers in the male dominated arena of sports but take a look at their uniform. It’s all tight, sleeveless, short and low cut with high, pointy shoes? Imagine Evanka Osmak talking about The Jays in a cardigan or the equivalent suit and tie? Would her content be equally compelling? And about those high heels; we praise men for their charity; running in high-heeled red shoes, in sympathy for us poor gals. Really, they ought to be committed to a world where damaging high heels are not required.
Oh yes, I understand, we women want high heels, short skirts, tight jeans and obvious cleavage…except lets ask why. It’s clear we have been socialized to see our gendered objectification in a certain way…as attractiveness; as sex. Sex we are responsible to ward off or sex we are responsible to invite. How about when a major political leader won’t meet with a woman unless his wife is with him – because, as you know, we are all temptresses. That’s why even when we are unconscious we are still provoking intercourse (would the consequence for a man raping an unconscious man be as light at the Stanford rapist received for raping an unconscious woman).
Counter the sexualization of women in North America with the common perception of ‘those poor’ Muslim women, ‘modestly covered’. It got me to thinking. I started where we all start nowadays, the internet. I read that the burkha, niqab and hijab as well as the chador and dupatta are all items of clothing worn by Muslim women to ‘cover and be modest’. Sources vary in their attribution, so it is unclear to me if all women are obligated to wear these coverings according to the Koran, or due to personal, relational or societal obligation. Yet, the current of potential sexual objectification in this case (humility/aka worthiness; protection of a male’s possession/evil seductress/aka blaming women lust and its outcomes) is not unlike the phenomena of the sports announcers, or ‘no lunch without me unless a witness is there’.
Although Canada has taken a strong stand against Sharia law, the Jian Ghomeshi coverage was blatant in its hostility to women. Any suggestion that we are gender enlightened is only self-congratulatory. When it comes to women’s dress, are we any less sexualizing than societies that insist on modest covering. Although collectively I think we see North American women as ‘free’ to wear what they want (although I wonder if the cameras would roll a women announcer if she wore a suit and tie), I am of a mind that both ‘modest covering’ and engineered bareness are oppressive sexualization.