In high school, I had a friend who showed up to her boyfriend’s school on a biweekly basis to confront the women “provoking” her boyfriend. I’m still not sure exactly what she said to those women. All I know is that a few years later, I would come to find out what it feels like to be one of “those” women.
After going through an extremely difficult breakup, I turned to a friend who had recently broken up with his girlfriend. Sometimes he texted me for advice. (It was mind-boggling how little he understood women.) Other times, I texted him for advice. One day, unaware that he was back with his ex-girlfriend, I shot him a text.
His girlfriend, whom I’d met and was fond of, texted me back calling me every name in the book. Little did she know that at one point, her boyfriend was the one who came on to me, and I talked some sense into him.
I wonder if she understands that I wasn’t the problem, but that her boyfriend’s behavior was. It was, after all, a mixture of her boyfriend’s behavior and her own insecurities that led to her making the inaccurate assumption that I was after her man. I wonder if she’s aware that I was just one woman, and that the issue will likely resurface, only with a different woman. Will she confront that woman as well? And the one after that?
A similar concept comes to mind when I hear people (predominantly women) say that a woman doesn’t respect herself solely because said woman chooses to wear revealing clothes. Moreover, I’m perplexed when women say it’s expected for a woman to be disrespected based on her attire, as though one person should be held accountable for the actions of others.
Is it so puzzling to consider that the aforementioned woman actually loves her body (a rarity amongst women) and wears what she wears because it’s what she loves to wear? Is it so insane to consider that just as there are women who like to dress conservatively, there are those who don’t? Are we so accustomed to the cliché depiction of the insecure woman that we no longer recognize confidence? To this point, are we so narrow in our views of what it means to be confident that we’ve lost the ability to view women as individuals, assuming all should fit a particular mold in order to be considered confident?
Isn’t it time we start holding men accountable for their own actions? Isn’t this part of the reason feminism exists today? Men walk around shirtless all the time, and comparatively speaking, women seldom make inappropriate comments. If we do, we are reproached for “not valuing ourselves.” Yet, when a man does the same, the woman is to blame? Really? If we are to cover up the parts of our bodies we are most fond of so as to not “provoke” men, should we also cover up our feet so as to not “provoke” those with foot fetishes? What other parts of our bodies will we then go on to cover?
Truth is, the perception men have of women is skewed, but the perception women have of each other, I dare say, is even worse. What would happen if each time a man called a woman a slut, another woman stepped in and said, “You don’t know her story. Don’t judge her.”? Clearly, this is not what happens on a regular basis, because most of the time women belittle each other in order to feel better about themselves.
There is no greater critic of women than women, and this needs to change.
When I see Katy Perry showing off cleavage in a music video, Beyoncé shaking her bootylicious bottom, Shakira gyrating her hips, Jennifer Lopez showing off her toned abs and female fitness trainers drawing attention to their thick thighs, I am aware that these women are sexy, yet I don’t feel threatened by them, or any other women who flaunt what they have. On the contrary, I applaud them for doing what isn’t easy to do, and that is remaining true to themselves. After all, sexiness and intelligence need not be exclusive.
Women need to stop blaming other women for their own securities. Women need to stop making assumptions about other women, judging other women and attacking other women. Have we not enough odds stacked against us as is? Imagine how much we could accomplish if we opened up our minds and our hearts, and supported one another.