Our style is a way of expressing ourselves. It is glimpse into who we are without verbally saying it. Our style is shown through the clothes we wear; it allows us to show our uniqueness, self confidence, and creativity. Our choice of clothes projects an image of who we are. Though it all sounds wonderful, here is the issue, some people will assume certain wrong messages by our choice of style and use it as an excuse to defend their actions or thoughts. For example, if a girl wears a short skirt and revealing top at a party, some people will assume that she is slutty and is asking for attention. But why can’t the message be that she is confident and feels sexy; and why does sexy have to be confused with being sexual? Or if a girl wears legging and a short top, people will assume she is trying to show off her ass or that she doesn’t have good morals etc. Why do clothes have to be sexualized and used as a justification for people’s thoughts. What we wear represents part of who we are, but it shouldn’t imply that we are promiscuous or asking for anything or have any other intentions then expressing ourselves.
There are many cases where women are criticized for what they wear when there are accusations of rape. There was a story in Jakarta where a man not only raped but also killed a girl. The capital governor blamed the girl for wearing a mini skirt instead of punishing the man’s awful actions. According to the site Mic.com, women protested in defensive saying: “Don’t Tell Us How to Dress, But Tell Them Not to Rape.” There are so many other cases where people blame rape cases on what the person wore, that we are “asking for it”, but I can bet that the majority of the world’s population wouldn’t ask to get raped or imply that in any way. We should have the social freedom to wear what we want and not constantly be judged or harassed. Rape or any form of assault should not be blamed for what the women was wearing. In article on Independent news, Dr Hannah Bows said ‘“We know that people are raped wearing a variety of clothing. The idea that a woman who goes out scantily clad will be pounced on is the most common myth across generations. They could be in their jeans, school uniform, or pyjamas.”’ She further explains that rape is not about what a woman wears but rather a man having domination and control over the women. It is time that people stop sexualising women’s clothing’s and realize who the true criminal is.
It is scary and surprising that people of high authority such as police officers, judges, etc.…, would ever possibly accept or try to justify an action as cruel as rape or sexual assault. It is dehumanizing and disappointing that women have to worry about any consequences their outfits will sexually project to other people. Wardrobe and style are never and should never be an excuse for others committing degrading actions towards women.
Valenti and Hooks, both feminist, have similar and divergent ideas on how to define feminism and what it means to them as individuals. When describing feminism, Valenti makes it feel like it is something for women, all women of course, but exclusive to females. Where as Hooks makes it more unisex, she defines feminism as something everybody can be as long as they stick with the basic idea that sexism, under any form, should end. The way these authors explain feminism is also quite different! Valenti takes the time to explain to her readers that the stereotypes on feminists are false and that they are a great factor why women are reluctant to publicly identify themselves as feminists. Hooks has a different approach, she explains where feminism in America comes from based on historic events including women as well as men from the white, native and black community. Putting aside their differences, these two very eloquent women agree that being feminist is something people should be proud of, and that the stereotypes given to the members of this movement are absolutely false and should not affect them. To them, feminism is important because it aims to end sexism, a concept that refrains, shames and oppresses women unjustly.
Based on my readings and summing up the definitions given by the two authors, I would say that a feminist is an individual that believes that there should be equality of sexes and an end to sexism. Even if it seems quite logical and simple, before reading these essays my definition of feminism was biased by the myths, rumors and stereotypes circulating in our society. To me, a feminist was a radical woman, with very liberal ideas and a modern set of values fighting to be able to whatever she wants to do. I am glad to know now that being a feminist is for everybody and that there is no need for the members to stop wearing bras or stop shaving their armpits in order to be acknowledged as one, which was honestly a big relief, not that there’s anything wrong with people who choose to do so!
I was really pleased by the way Hooks explained feminism as it being a topic linked to racism and segregation. The reason why it paused my reading and made me enter into deep reflexion is because I always say “ I am not a feminist” with the idea in mind that before thinking of the equality of sexes, we should think of the racial equality. I was convinced of this without realising how closely linked these two concepts are and that we can really not separate them! Both movements seek to end unjust behaviours inflicted to them by other members of the society and in every ethnicity there are individuals of the two sexes. I guess my thought has always been that if a black, latina, asian, etc woman gets treated differently from others it is not principally because she is a woman but because she is a part of a cultural minority. And quite honestly, even if these readings opened my eyes into a new way to see the issue, I am still very confused.
After reading briefly about the two authors, I was happy curious to read their essays. I felt like these well informed women could teach me valuable things on the topics they addressed and I was not disappointed at all.
There is a century old tradition among the Hindu religion in Nepal and parts of India and Bangladesh that is called Chhaupadi. It is thought that when women get their menstruation they are seen as “dirty” and “impure.” Mary Cameron, a professor of anthropology at Florida Atlantic University says, ” the practice is tied to deities—the belief that any kind of impurity will make deities angry and may cause misfortune to a community.” Each month, these women are banned from their homes or are locked in a dark isolated room for the length of their period. The women who are banned from their home sleep in what’s known as “menstruation huts” which are very small cattle houses in which are very unsanitary and potentially deadly. Moreover, women during their periods aren’t allowed to touch or interact with male family members, not allowed to touch food, religious icons and cattle, go into the kitchen or use any communal water sources. It is said she will curse the family and bring them misfortune (Cousins, 2019).
Furthermore, in these geographical locations, they experience very harsh Himalayan winters and women are left freezing all night with not a lot to protect them. The huts are made of mud, the windows dont have glass, door doesn’t close and no running water inside. There have been many cases of women dying in these huts from exposure to the cold (hypothermia), snake bites and smoke inhalation from their attempts to stay warm (Cousins, 2019).
In 2005, Nepal’s supreme court banned this taboo practise but it still has seized to exist and discriminate, oppress and pose harm on women everyday. Finally in 2017, Nepal’s government decided to take more action to protect the girls and women affected by Chhaupadi. A sentence if caught making a woman take part in Chhaupadi is three months in jail or a 30 $ fine. Also, many of these huts have been destroyed all over these countries (Regan, 2019). Personally, destroying the houses does little for these women, it is the mindset and inhumaine beliefs that have to be changed to allow these women to have the respect, care and freedom they deserve to experience like any other human living on planet earth. I believe that education is where the answers lie; a basic knowledge of female anatomy and a basic lesson in human rights need to be incorporated in the school systems in those countries. I sincerely hope that these unfortunate women find a form of comfort and support in their lives to help them get through their menstruations and the treatment they deserve from all.
For more information and perspective, check this video out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7R_9j092jnE