Woman. A term I struggle to compress to a singular word because across generations society has perpetually attempted to redefine the nature of my gender. Whether it is in our private lives or in the public eye, women have been conditioned to seek approval from elsewhere resulting in a feeling of inadequacy. We remove parts of our identity in order to conform to society's image of 'perfection' but in reality, we measure against an unrealistic standard. We choose to place our time, efforts and resources on our physical appearance rather than in our education and inner-selves. This lack of emotional fulfilment and disempowerment is the product of today's popular culture, and sadly, this struggle is all too common. Socialisation has taught us that a woman's place is not in a position of power but beside a man of power, as the old saying goes, 'behind a every great man is a great woman'. And this is particularly evident in the political sphere where women are discouraged to undertake a powerful role and instead stand behind their partner as they campaign for a seat.
You only have to look to Hilary Clinton who was told to 'go and iron a shirt' during one of her campaign stops to understand that it is not about the content of our words but the physicality and women stereotypes. We have painted women to be incomplete without a man by her side, and this seems to be the case for 'Mrs. Clinton' whose words are overshadowed by her relationship, husband, children, grandchildren, outfit, hair, makeup and whether the choice of navy blue was a fashion faux pas. Whilst her husband is asked about his views on foreign policy, the economy and his golf swing. This can also be said of the 'Downing Street Catwalk' which demonstrated the new women in the cabinet in a sexist and demeaning manner, examining their fashion choices instead of their expertise.
Across the world we stand proud of our modern democracies and yet, we continue to listen and act from a male perspective of what a democracy should look like. But the truth is, legitimacy can never be achieved without the full voices, perspectives and insights of women.
Furthermore, it is often said that the media is a portrayal of ourselves, and yet it seems every film or series we watch is the perpetual recreation of female stereotypes. From my personal experiences, a woman is either
• torn between two men
• is looking for Mr. Right
• is looking for Mr. Right now
• is trying to get over a man with another man
Popular culture reminds us that we should feel incomplete or insecure because Prince Charming has not come to our rescue. In reality, our happy ending has been intertwined with men fulfilling our supposed desires. However, we should not underestimate Hollywood, after all, they have featured films in which women have been shown in positions of power. However in such cases, these protagonists are either described as bossy or bitchy. And when it comes action heroes, well we do save the day... in a tight latex cat suit. If the media truly wanted to portray us than they would take the time to ask us instead of simplifying our identities into three simple categories. We demand to be reflected. We demand humanity. We demand to be seen for who we are and not how others wish us to be seen.
Let us not be distracted from taking a stand or making a change. Let us not trivialise one another because of the media's decision to portray women through a two-dimensional lens. Let us acknowledge and accept that our sexuality and our physical beauty are not our only access to true empowerment. We do not have to use our body in sexualised manner to acquire power and self-liberation. It is time for a psychological breakthrough in which we demand to make space on the table of power. Take back your identity. Take back your womanhood.