Supposedly, the sexual revolution has given women the chance to be equal with men, but it seems today that women are equally degraded and equally unfulfilled. Women in the workplace – or at least on the red carpet and in news studios – feel the need to use sex appeal to advance themselves, and face criticism if they do not meet expectations. Men and women are equally at fault for this (as is Ralph Lauren, whose “real women” modeling campaign I don’t find especially convincing). While men owe respect to their co-workers who have earned it, women should not, and usually do not, encourage them to do otherwise.
Women’s physical appearance still has not been detached from their jobs. A Wisconsin news anchor was insulted this week for her weight because she was not deemed a fit role model for her community. While I agree that it is important to be healthy, the state of a woman’s body has no influence on her capacity to do her job unless she is in a medical emergency.
Other women, notably celebrities, would disagree with this, and argue that because “sex sells,” they should use it to their advantage. Singers like P!nk and Katy Perry have made names for themselves by belting out anthems for the hook-up culture – as did Madonna and Lady Gaga, for which they recently came under fire in an interview with Adele.
Adele does not
find it encouraging” that women “exploit [themselves] sexually.
Perhaps she feels that lyrics and talent, not sex, should sell music. To be fair, the topics of the songs by all the female singers are often similarly predicable on the topic of disappointed love, and the lack of variety and female independence is discouraging. Not as discouraging, though, as some of the defenses of Madonna and Gaga. While Whoopi Goldberg wished everyone could “live in peace” and do their own thing, Iliza Shlesinger slammed Adele, saying that she only dresses more modestly than the other singers because she is overweight and envious.
When a woman has a job to do or children to raise, making sure she has six-pack abs and a leather catsuit probably aren’t priorities. Yes, of course she should take care of herself, but it should be for her well-being, not for the approval – or arousal – of others. It is possible to respect your body and feel confident about it without exposing it, because your body is not something everyone deserves to see.
Besides that, women should be valued for more than just their physical appearance, especially in the workplace. Once, signs and buttons urged employers to hire women for their skills, not their sex appeal, but some celebrities are more than willing to counteract that effort.
A role model should be healthy, but health in every respect of the word – healthy in body and in her attitude towards the world. An attitude of using her body for attention and advancement is not healthy, and neither is focusing more on physical appearance than actual contributions to society.