It is much more broad and far-reaching than many people realize.
Being a Sociology Major in college most of my courses revolved around society and its impact on our lives. In particular, my Pop Culture class stood out in my mind the most about the truly damaging effects of society. The media has always told us what is “cool” or pushed the idea of what is attractive. If you did not abide by the rules of cool or you stood out in any way, you were shunned, shamed, and bullied. This is not only true for teenagers, but it is just true for children and adults, as well. I am a nanny, and the little girl that I watch is bullied by one of her friends at school. This girl will send notes to all of their friends saying how the girl I watch is ugly, and the way that she dresses is ugly. The girl I watch is only nine years old. It seems ridiculous that even at such a young age she is being judged by the way that she looks. What is more appalling is that it starts even younger than many people realize. Think about the store that you shop at the most for your basic needs (i.e. Target, Wal-Mart, HEB Plus, etc). What does the boy’s isle for toys and clothes look like? It sports monster trucks, cars, tough looking characters, super heroes, blue, green, red, black. What does the girl’s isle look like? It shows you fashion, pink, purple, Barbie, princesses, dolls, and more offensively many of the toys revolve around being a mom or doing household chores. So basically all women are good for is working in the home and caring for the family, why would she want a career? If Barbie is even allowed to have a career it is fashion related, nurse, or veterinarian, since all women care about is clothes and animals. Gender roles are the first guidelines of discrimination and judgement in our lives.
As we begin to age the onslaught of images and ideas bombard us almost non-stop. You must be stick thin, but you can’t be too thin because then you don’t have big breasts or a big butt. You must dress a certain way to attract men, but if you dress that way you are a slut. You must not be a woman of color, make yourself as light-skinned as possible, but if you are white, you must tan your skin. You must not have any dimples, moles, pimples, freckles, or imperfections.
Instructions on how to fix your “wobbly bits” because god forbid your body moves as you walk. How shoes can make you look thinner, because that is what shoes are made for rather than to be comfortable and show your personality. The only good thing about this cover is that it has a teeny tiny print of an article title on challenging and researching your salary.
The sex is all about him, and what he wants. What pleasures HIM, not you, not mutual pleasure. Focus on him. Oh, and how to be girlie and make guys melt. Sorry, tom boys. Apparently men aren’t allowed to be attracted to a bad ass chick that kicks butt. Ironically, under “His Pleasure Zone” is an article on date rape. That isn’t sending mixed messages or anything. I thought women are supposed to bend to the whim of every man and pleasure them. This magazine even objectified men with its bare-chested man-show.
Cosmopolitan is not all bad. It does try to appeal to all crowds with stories on strong females and how-to’s for women to protect themselves, but the problem is rather than empowering articles for women being the main focus of the magazine, they are hidden within and often times featured at the end of the magazine.
Below is an example of what the cover should portray. Strong females of any age kicking ass and taking names. How-to’s describing how to love yourself rather than trying to change yourself to fit a mold.
Hell, I think freckles are gorgeous.
I say, rock it full-figured beauties.
Love yourselves super-awesome women of color.
Own your beauty mixed women.
Be proud of yourselves mature women.
I say F*CK you, media. We are all hot, sexy, perfect, and beautiful. Media, you are the one that is wrong, abnormal, or needs to be altered.
Because this is not who we are.
You cannot define us. We are strong. We are women. They. Were. Wrong.
Rape culture is when the victim of the crime is blamed, demonized, and possibly threatened for speaking up. The media will downplay the victim, if the victim is mentioned at all, and sympathize with the rapist. This usually occurs when the rapist is someone who is famous, powerful, a pillar of society, or the “All-American male” (high school football players, someone in the armed forces, involved with a fraternity, etc). The media will downplay the crime and play up the prestige of the guilty parties. They may talk about the sudden loss of their bright futures, or in the case of someone in the military, claim them to be an “American hero”.
Sometimes it is difficult for family members and friends to understand why a victim may not speak up for a crime, and let’s be honest, people look at you with a weird/judgmental grimace on their face if you say that you don’t want to report or that you don’t want to go to counseling. While I fully support women speaking up for themselves, and strongly believe that they should report the crime, I am the first to admit that I was a woman who did not want to report. Looking at the above chart, one can begin to grasp why. Many rapists will not even go to court. When I was going through the beginning processes of reporting the crime I was made to realize how daunting the process would be. The detective I spoke with said that the process can take at least 3-5 years, and that is if the District Attorney decides that your case is even worth going to trial over. Then even if the case does make it to court the rapist is often sympathized with rather than the victim. I was afraid to go to court because, frankly, I knew I would be treated like Jane Doe from the Steubenville case. Though her case came after I reported, using the case as an example has helped my family and friends understand my hesitation with reporting or carrying on with the case. Rape culture. That is why women do not want to report the crime-not to mention your raw emotions and most private life experiences are put on display for the world to see. The rapists are made to look as if they are heroes for withstanding trial. The real heroes here are the women who are brave enough to report, or even consider it, because, unfortunately, they will be the ones enduring hell on earth-accusations, threats, name-calling, shaming, court. If you made it out, you are the hero. You’re my hero, because I have barely been brave enough to report. I am here to tell you that if you do not want to report, or you are afraid to report, you are not weird and there is nothing wrong with you. You are not any less of the one who was forced to be a victim. The rapist/abuser is at fault. Always. You are never at fault. Even if you danced around naked you are not asking for it. You should be respected; you have value. Do not let yourself be defined by being the victim. Do not let anyone judge you for acting differently than what society portrays how a rape “victim” should behave. Do not let society force you to view yourself in any way other than beautiful.
A video about bullying and self-worth. Be sure to watch it the whole way through. It is empowering. You do not have to be defined by any negative experiences in life or by any negative names you have been called. You are real, you are beautiful, you are perfectly real.