So, what's so hard about being a woman? I like being a woman. Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't trade it, personally, for being a man. I think both are hard for different reasons. I just think that it's important to look at it and see what is true about the pros and cons of each and what can be done to change the part that's hard. Besides....it is a nice segue from the 'me too' post from last week and the brilliant speech made by Frances McDormand at the Oscars. (More on this later...)
In 2015, the United Nations (which is the organization mandated in maintaining worldwide peace and security. For developing relations among nations. And for fostering cooperation between nations in order to solve economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian international problems.), set a goal "to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” by 2030. In October of 2016 it nominated Wonder Woman as the representative for the empowerment of Women worldwide and in December of 2016 there was so much backlash about this that she was demoted from her post.
So why was she elected and why was she ultimately fired?
First we need to look at the concepts of prejudice, discrimination and oppression. I could talk about it but, seriously, this cartoon from 'Everyday Feminism' online magazine says it beautifully!
Well, DC Entertainment had approached the UN to explore a joint project to mark the character’s 75th birthday. The campaign aimed to harness Wonder Woman’s popularity to allow the UN to target new audiences with its messages on equality for women and girls. “She has been known for justice, peace and equality and we are very pleased that this character will help us reach new audiences with essential messages about empowerment and equality.” a UN representative, Christina Gallach said. In other words, it was a business deal. I doubt that there were underlying oppressive motives.....just a focus on money as the end goal.
However, petitions and protests went out immediately because ultimately "“It is (was)alarming that the United Nations would consider using a character with an overtly sexualised image at a time when the headline news in United States and the world is the objectification of women and girls,” the petition’s authors wrote. Seeing women as primarily a sexual object is an internalized prejudice in our culture. Internalized by both men and women. The DC Entertainment president was a woman and so was the UN representative!
Choosing Wonder Woman was a discrimination which externally exemplified the internal prejudice of sexualizing women. And it is a beautiful example of how oppressive this stereotype is because the UN is the largest organization in the world that is supposed to be helping people against oppression and they didn't recognize what they were doing.
And she's a cartoon character! Gee, the obvious choice would be an actual woman who models empowerment! Oprah, Michelle Obama, Ellen, Hillary Clinton, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Malala Yousafzai......the list is endless....and very alive!
A great way to validate and do unbiased research about the internalized prejudice, discrimination and systemic oppressive nature of how women are treated comes from transgendered people. One person defined it beautifully when she said "“One of the first really striking changes I (male-to-female) noticed was that it's completely and totally accurate that women get talked over a lot. I knew this already on a logical level, but experiencing it after I started socially and medically transitioning was still a jarring experience.
“There have been so many times where co-workers, supervisors and just the general public have decided to talk over me regardless of the topic, and this includes people who knew me before my transition.”-blog post by Rachel Hosie, the Independent.
When we look at power as someone's ability to exert choices and influence on a given segment of society or country, presently there are 15 female world leaders currently in office. Eight of these women are their country’s first woman in power. While the number of current female leaders – excluding monarchs and figurehead leaders – has more than doubled since 2000, these women still represent fewer than 10% of 193 UN member states. So....it's better but we still have a long way to go re: being recognized as equal in numbers, money and influence and power. But it's getting better and the UN does have a goal around the empowerment of women so let's stay on the 'up' side of this discussion!!!
So back to Frances McDermond and why it is so important. During her speech, Frances invited all the female nominees in all categories to stand and be honoured along with her for their performances and the work that it takes to be recognized in a male dominated industry. Then she taught everyone about something called an 'inclusion rider'. Inclusion rider means that if someone is going to agree to be on a movie, the directors and producers need to agree to make the cast AND crew as inclusive as possible so that people of colour, race, religion and gender don't get excluded by an 'old boys club'. (My words) Another way of looking at her speech is to see that she named that there was discrimination and oppression and by asking women to stand and be honoured and teaching about the inclusion riders, she provided the opportunity for them to be seen and heard and broke some of the systemic reinforcement of these processes. Brilliant. Frances McDermond should get an Oscar for that......and SHE should be voted to become the representative for women at the UN!!!