Are we brought up to see men in a negative light?

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Does anyone remember the phrase from their childhood: “Don’t trust boys. They’re only after one thing”? I certainly do and it’s likely it’s affected me my whole life, I just haven’t realised up until now.

Thinking about it, I have always been surprised men have emotions. It may sound strange or you may understand exactly where I’m coming from but let me explain. When listening to love songs sung and written by men, I used to find myself thinking “do men really think like that? Wow.” Or now when I see a man cry, I treat as a big deal, whereas a woman crying isn’t, because they cry all the time. I’m shocked and almost, can’t believe it. After all, we’re brought up with the notion that men are after one thing, who could have thought they could love another human being so much? When bringing up boys, it’s not unusual to skip all the emotional stuff – when they fall over, you tell them not to cry, get up and be strong whereas a girl is comforted, hugged and kissed. It’s true that girls are often more emotional than boys, a lot of this is down to hormones, so women are known to fluctuate in mood quite rapidly which men, often, do not understand. Men aren’t brought up to understand women’s emotions or menstrual cycles (which mess with our emotions quite a bit) so it’s no wonder they spend most of their lives confused about women. At the same time, girls are brought up with the idea that men are dangerous, want to force you into sex and that they’re generally bad news.

While this may be true of some teenage boys and some men, it’s not true for the majority and it seems hugely unfair for both sexes. What if inciting such beliefs led to the self-fulfilling prophecy? For those who aren’t familiar with that term, the self-fulfilling prophecy is when you tell someone they are “X” so much, they actually end up becoming it because of you. For example, if you are taught in school you’re going to fail no matter what, it can actually lead to you failing. Boys are supposed to be obsessed with sex, that’s what we teach them, so is it any wonder some turn sour? We are also taught that only boys are obsessed with sex during their teen years, not true – or else how would so many teenage pregnancies occur? We cannot possibly believe that every single girl was forced into it. No, due to those fluctuating hormones I mentioned before, girls can be just as sex obsessed (or rather, curious) as boys – they’re just not as vocal about it because they’re not allowed to be for fear of being seen as sluts.

I realise I’ve gone off on a tangent but my point is I feel as if we’re brought up to see boys and men in a negative light. Men don’t help themselves either, I’ve lost count of the amount of men who’ve judged another man’s actions on the basis of “that’s what men are like”, as if one gender follows the exact same emotional path set out before them. What I have found is that in fact, one man is very different from the next (funny that!) and that any man who says he can tell you what another man’s motivations are is a liar. But because of what men say about men, I don’t know what to believe sometimes, my boyfriend tells me things that lots of men (and women) would say is a down right lie. Now I don’t know if these things are lies or not, and unless I invent a machine that allows me to read others minds, I will never truly know. The fact that I doubt someone, just souly due to what others day is “true of all men” is sad though and I don’t think we should be brought up like this. 

Do you agree? Is it a similar case for what men learn about women? Please let me know as I’d be fascinated to learn more.

“Slut shaming” leaves women attacking other women

There seems to be a new phrase buzzing around the internet these days. It’s called slut shaming. Of course, the term slut shaming is not that new, it was used when people blamed rape on women for wearing skimpy clothes. Now I see the phrase being used for a different reason: Slut shaming is when women look at other women and say “how dare they be stripper/not wear many clothes, they’re representing women in a poor light”, etc. Women’s rights have come a long way, we’re now seen as (mostly) equal in society and we have the right to do as we please. But how far should we take that? Should we be involved in things we feel liberate us yet keep females in sex object category? More pressingly, do  women have the right to tell other women what to do?

Women tend to dress for other women and not for men, so I’m told. Women compete with each and want to look the best, it’s part of nature. On a standard night out we’ll see many women with shorter and shorter dresses, is this what feminists fought for? It’s an important question but a very difficult one to answer. On one hand, feminism has swung to an extreme – women feel powerful that they can do what they want, even if that’s sell their body for money or dress as scantily clad as possible. Is this a bad thing? Or is it about being equal in society. No one bats an eyelid at men walking around shirtless during the summer and men aren’t often frowned on for sleeping around, so surely women should be able to do the same.

Alas, women dressing in such ways make other women claim that females are making themselves seen as sex objects and so women in general will never be taken seriously. What we need to realise is this is not a woman’s problem. It’s a man’s problem. If men cannot see past even the tiniest bit of cleavage then women will never be taken seriously. In nature, the male of the species is often the pretty one, the brightly coloured one who goes out of their way to attract a female. I believe it’s the other way around for us. Women are made to attract men (visually, at least) and there’s no real way of getting around that. Women shouldn’t be punished for this. Even if a woman was covered up completely I’m sure men would be attracted out of mere curiosity. I had a personal experience of this when I was on holiday, I wore a long summer dress, not very revealing at all, and a man thought it was okay to come up behind me and lift the back of my dress right up. Disgusting behaviour I’m sure you’ll agree but it shows you don’t have to dress like a “slut” to get horrible attention like that.

In my personal opinion, I don’t agree with women who do go out dressed in very revealing clothes, it’s not classy and it often shows that you are not happy with your appearance so you need to get attention through what you wear. However, if a woman wants to burlesque dance because she’s confident with herself and feels empowered, other women shouldn’t be against that. We should be supporting confident women because being shallow and ashamed with your appearance leads to all sorts of mental issues, especially in teenage girls.

But there’s a war going on on the internet – those who say women should do what they want (sleep around, wear what they want, etc) and those who defend the dignity of women with such passion. You know what, both those points of views are fine and women need to stop fighting over it. I would never flash my cleavage at a man just to sell a product or get up in the world, if other women want to do that it’s got nothing to with me. If women want to cover themselves up completely because they feel protected – again, it’s got nothing to do with me so carry on. Everyone’s different so you can’t tell other people what to do.

I think people are still in shock – women have changed a lot over such a short period of time. It’s now considered “normal” to see an everyday girl topless in a magazine, fifty years ago everyday women were very modest. Perhaps we are still too prude – is being naked all that bad? But then there’s a different feeling when we look at female models naked (people of prestige or we do not know) to when we look at everyday normal girls with their kit off. It seems wrong somehow even though models are people too. Maybe some women are jealous – I know I suffer from that massively from time to time but then I’m pretty sure no one’s jealous of the fake-tanned Oceana goers…Either way, there’s not much point in slut shaming when things will probably never change – women will always be sex objects, not because of us but because of society and men.

Do the Oscars prove Hollywood is mis-representing us all?

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I stumbled upon a very interesting video that talks about something called The Bechdel Test. The test goes like this: There has to be two female character in the film (with names) who talk to each other about something other than men. If the film fulfils these requirements it passes. Pretty simple and easy. I mean, most Hollywood films must pass this test with ease right? Wrong. It’s actually quite shocking to see how very little films represent women appropriately.

But this theory doesn’t only apply to women, the same can be said about gay people and other races. In fact the only people Hollywood don’t mis-represent are white men. For example, how many films are there featuring gay people where the film doesn’t just revolve around their sexuality or gender? And  in films where there are people of differing races, they’re often talking about white people. The best example of this racial issue is in The Help. The Help is about two black maids who look after a white family. Even though there are several black people in the cast, it only just passes the test because the characters are almost always talking to or about, a white person. Making the film less about the plight of black people and more about white people “solving” racism.

Now we all like to think that today’s society is far more equal than it used to be and we’re accepting of different genders, races and sexualities and yes, having films incorporating these things are good but it doesn’t mean the problem is solved. Out of nine of the Oscar nominated films talked about the video I mentioned before, only two of them pass The Bechdel Test. Two! Now, tell me if I’m wrong but last time I checked there are just as many women on the planet as there are men. So why is it so hard to have just two female characters who talk to each other about something other than men?

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Now just because a film revolves around men doesn’t make it a bad film. We’re not talking about the quality of films here and sometimes it’s necessary to have an almost all male cast and that’s fine. What the problem is is not portraying women enough in the right light. There are plenty of female-centred films but a lot of them portray women in a stereotypical way; Sucker Punch, Sex in the City and any other chick-flick film you can think of are good examples. There are quite a few LGBT films too but many of them only centre around being gay, again, there’s nothing wrong with that but would it kill to have more gay characters in every-day films? For example, Scott Pilgrim VS the world does a great job of having a gay character and not making a big deal out of it. It’s represented as being normal which is the way it should be shown. And of course the same could be said about representing other races, we need to do it more and make it less about white people patting themselves on the back.

The problem is though, Hollywood is still male dominated as almost every other big industry is. If there wasn’t an award for best actress, would women ever win best actor? Probably not. (That’s another gripe of mine too, I never called female actors actresses, that insinuates it’s a lesser role than actor). Hollywood needs to wake up and realise what audiences they’re catering too these days, they may not care but we need to show we care, otherwise things may never change.