Fuck the Kyriarchy

Fuck the kyriarchy. That's all I can say. I'm shocked and outraged and I can barely talk.

Maybe I shouldn't be this way. Maybe I should have expected something like this. But no matter how rampant it is, no matter how widespread the attitudes are, I get angry.

I'm not particularly easy on the eyes and I'm probably slightly overweight. Fine. I do the best I can with what I have and these days I try to keep reasonably fit. Going to the gym (instead of being forced to participate in sports I despise) probably helps.

Two stunningly beautiful girls in my year, one of whom models, want plastic surgery for...well...basically everything. A nose job, a boob job, a tummy tuck here and a facelift there. Now, these girls can do whatever they want. Their private lives aren't my business. If they want to spend money on permanently changing their appearance, that's their decision and not mine. What is my business, however, and what disgusts me, is the attitude which led them to feel like this: namely, that you can't feel happy with your body unless you've put in the silicone, taken out the fat and some of the skin, and sewed the whole lot up - no scars, of course, they would be so unsightly.

That attitude is pure, distilled bullshit. It is bullshit fed to us by the companies who make money from it all. It is bullshit fed to us by the magazines aimed squarely at women and girls, which make their money by persuading females that they are worthless unless they're good-looking - and they can only be good looking if they cake their face in make-up, stick cannulas into their thighs, and, of course, keep buying those glossy, trashy magazines. It is bullshit fed to us by a kyriarchy which sees women as objects to be locked up and kept in pristine condition, not people who grow and change - and people aren't perfect, but they're a damn sight more interesting than any plastic doll, however pretty she may be.

Even today, men are the strong, courageous, intelligent ones, while women are beautiful and passive. Men are still seen as the ones who do things, with women being the ones who reap the benefits. Even a new generation of "strong female characters" are all physically attractive - sometimes far more so than their male counterparts - show more amounts of skin than is really practical or useful for anything other than titillation (please be aware that if we did the same thing with males, it would look justifiably ridiculous), and still end up shagging the male hero by the end of the movie.

Here's a mini-case-study:
There are so many reasons this uniform doesn't work...and so many reasons why we don't care.
That picture, and the caption that goes with it, were found on the Rule of Sexy page on TV Tropes, and the more I look at it all the more irritated I get. This is objectification, pure and simple. The writers know that this is impractical, but they don't care. Why? Tits! Washboard stomach! Gorgeous hair! They could not give a fucking shit about accuracy as long as they get to ogle women.

Some of you might be wondering why this is a bad thing. The trouble is, there is very little media out there which doesn't objectify women, or which doesn't tell females that they need to be beautiful to be recognised - so of course they're going to grow up feeling the need to be pretty and feminine above all else. I've seen it happen to so many girls I know that it's honestly depressing. They care less about cultivating their brains and personality, things which will last them a lifetime and which earn genuine respect, than they do about conforming to the kyriarchal standards of beauty.

From a girl to the rest of the world: I know that the images in magazines are photoshopped beyond belief. Doesn't stop me from feeling inadequate because I'll never have a body like that. It doesn't stop me from feeling inadequate because all the girls I know are taller and thinner and better-looking than I am. It doesn't stop me from being affected by the pressure to be beautiful above all else - the same pressure that is on all women - and it doesn't stop me from feeling like there's something wrong with my body, and that if I'm fine with it there's something wrong with me. Seriously. I remember looking at a mirror one day and being actually quite pleased with my figure, then thinking "Wait! No! This is bad! I'm not allowed to be happy with myself!".

These are pretty much the exact thoughts that went through my head. I can't claim to speak for all girls, but I'd bet good money that they feel - or have felt - this way. I have to admit, I was strangely relieved when I found that other girls had awkward fat folds as well. They're the kind of things which no-one would ever admit to having, and if you do have them then it's supposed to make you...well...ugly. And since women aren't supposed to be ugly (unless they're of a certain age, in which case it's still just about acceptable), feeling ugly feels like being abnormal, feels like being a little less than what you should be.

What happens next is half-risible, half-depressing and really (if I'm honest with myself) quite embarrassing to talk about: girls my age are disgusted by seeing an unshaven, untanned, naked and really quite normal female body. (Firstly, you'd expect that they look in the mirror once in a while.) When confronted with the news that they were going to be drawing a nude female model, some were absolutely horrified by the thought of seeing cellulite and saggy boobs. Looking at the drawings other students had made - which were very elegant, tasteful and stylised - they had nothing but bad words, not for the students, but for the model. They were repelled by her body fat, her less-than-slender figure (for the record, it was still hourglass-shaped and I found it somewhere between passable and lovely), and (le gasp!) the fact that she hadn't shaved. Cue much eye-rolling and facepalming from me.

The result is the frankly disgusting love-child of objectification and sanitisation. Women are defined primarily by their beauty, so they learn to prize good looks above everything else - and with that, learn to go to any lengths to get those good looks. At the same time, nudity is deemed taboo (strangely enough, "innocent" nudity seems to be more taboo than sexual nudity) by the moral guardians...so the only nudity and near-nudity is that seen in porn, art, some films, fashion magazines, and music videos. Pretty much all of these media use unrealistic, unrepresentative or stylised depictions of the human body, which are then held up not as ideals to aspire to but as targets to be met. Girls end up thinking that their bodies are all wrong, and indeed that any body which is not hairless, clear-skinned and very nearly free of fat is all wrong as well - because they don't see the beauty, or the sheer normality, in not having the body of a model, actress or porn star. In the end, it drives them to seek surgery for the psychological problems caused by years of manufactured insecurity and being told that they're unworthy if they don't look fuckable.

If we did this to anyone else with anything else, it would cause a public outcry. Yet this has been going on, in various shapes and forms, for as long as women have been oppressed - so for at least two millennia. That's two millennia too long.

It is time to reform the kyriarchal media, which objectifies women and feeds on the seeds of insecurity sowed in their magazines. It is time to start encouraging girls to think rather than telling them they're objects to be ogled and pawed at. It is time to let girls accept their bodies for what they are rather than telling them to hate them unless they've been shaved, tanned, cut open, sewed back up.

Thinking that you are beautiful the way you are is an act of rebellion.

Here are some links to some excellent sites, which I highly recommend you check out.
Yes Means Yes
The Society Pages
Boobs Don't Work That Way
Women Fighters In Reasonable Armor
Fuck Yeah Warrior Women
Babes in Armor
Go Make Me A Sandwich
Feminists for Choice