EL PASO — Long legs, toned stomach, thick hair and sexy stare. Voluptuous lips, big derriere and oversized breasts. This is a woman, and according to some, this is what a complete woman looks like.
You can’t see our brains, so we must not have one, right? We have soft hands, so we must only do housework, right? We have ovaries, so I can’t be taken seriously, right? Women have been objectified since Adam and Eve.
As I tuned in to the radio recently, the first thing I heard was rapper 2 Chainz singing, “She got a big booty so I call her big booty.” I turn the dial to another station and hear the group Three 6 Mafia singing, “ass and titties, ass, ass and titties.”
I then begin to ponder why my parents bothered to name me Olivia if entertainers and others are going to ignore my name and objectify me. When I change stations again, I hear, “tried to domesticate you… just let me liberate you.”
At this point, I turn off the radio and plug in my iPod instead, thinking that if R&B; singer Robin Thicke wanted to liberate me, it would be from his misogynistic words that perpetuate the idea that women must be domesticated because we are only animals, of course, looking for sex without saying it, just implying it.
At the grocery check out counter and other stores I often I see half-naked women peering out from the covers of magazines telling me how to dress, how to have sex and what I need to change about myself to make him love me.
I watch Carl’s Jr. commercials wondering whether the sexy woman in the ad is trying to eat the hamburger or make love to it. I then come to school and read books that portray women as weak, at home and waiting for a man to rescue them. I go to the movies and see actresses who can only be happy once they find love. Where did all the strong, independent female role models go? Or rather, did they even exist to begin with?
When I started studying at the University of Texas at El Paso, I signed up for an elective class in Gender and Women’s Studies and decided to switch my minor to Women’s Studies. This topic fascinated me. Before taking these classes, I hadn’t been aware of the oppression, objectification and put-downs that women go through.
Most of the time, I didn’t pay much attention to the constant cat calls from men. I ignored how our culture told us how to not get raped but didn’t tell men how not to rape. I didn’t dwell on the prevailing idea that the way I dress affects how I’m viewed. I didn’t think about the general widespread portrayal of women as the “weaker” sex.
Now, I realize that I had absorbed our culture’s put-down of women, and the common belief that women need to work twice as hard as men to achieve their goals. As a teenager I somehow knew I had to be careful going to a club because I might be sexually assaulted. I knew not to walk down empty alleys late at night. But I never thought to question why I knew all of this.
Now that I have opened my eyes to how women are treated, I have a deep urge to open other people’s eyes. We can’t change our past but we can start to change our future. We can work to change how future generations perceive others and make them aware of the stereotypes that come with being a certain gender, race or religion.
We need more Estela Casas anchorwomen role models so girls can watch them report the news. We need more Sonia Sotomayor judges fighting for us on the U.S. Supreme Court level. We need more Tina Feys to show our girls that comedy isn’t just a man’s world. We especially need more Malala Yousafzais who have gone through hell and back to make a difference in learning and education for girls everywhere.
Lets help society remember that women are more than just a stereotype. We are college graduates, mothers, professionals, activists. We are smart, brainy, funny, engaged. We are EQUAL. All this is woman, and so much more.