Editor's Letter: Everyday Objectification

This week was International Women’s Day – the day where women find themselves both being celebrated but also having to unnecessarily justify why the day exists in the first place. Annabel and Ilka both wrote articles this week that exemplified some of the reasons for this. Annabel touched on the boundaries that women face in today’s society – particularly the injustice of female achievements going unnoticed and uncelebrated every single day. Ilka pointed out the sexism that we face day to day on our phones, through something that seems so trivial and unimportant – emojis. The emojis themselves, with their extreme gender stereotypes, symbolise everything Annabel spoke about in her article. They might seem arbitrary, but they when they are used by pretty much everyone around the world, we are actually contributing to the confinement and pigeon holing of women into certain roles every single day. So, in keeping with this theme, I want to add my own opinions on why international women’s day is really so important.

Something that women face everyday is sexism and a large part of this is objectification. Through cat – calling, awkward and uncomfortable stares, and creepy gropes/comments in clubs, we are subjected to feeling like pieces of meat all the time. I asked the Her Campus editorial team to give me some of their own examples of their experiences with this and the fact that they were able to respond so quickly epitomises the reality and tragedy of this situation. The tragedy is that for women, day to day objectification has become “normal”. Here are some of the responses:

"I was cat called whilst putting out my bins the other day."

"My worst club experience was in Newcastle, when someone put their hand up my skirt."

"Excited to leave my house on a rare third year outing for cocktails I'm minding my own business jogging through the Bristol rain when right on cue I hear "That's a lovely skirt" from the drunk group of "lads" crossing the road to the Brass Pig. Turned round to give him the stink eye and a "Fuck off" to find them all leering at me. Thanks lads."

"It might not be "obvious" but I think one that definitely happens on pretty much a daily basis is the constant feeling of being “watched” - (male gaze and all that), like when you're walking towards a guy and they look at you like a piece of meat. Can be so intimidating."

"Cheer up'/'smile – happened literally 5 mins ago!"

"I got asked to get my tits out in a club."

"It's also the constant remarks on physical appearance - especially if you're wearing low cut tops, it's just an ordeal to have to deal with."

"I was sat having a drink in the Brass Pig with my housemate when an old man came over and told me that his mate had been admiring my legs from the bar whilst his “mate” was waving from the other side of the room."

(Image Credit: Pinterest)

One of my own experiences of this happened a couple of weeks ago when I was walking to uni to get to an 11am lecture. I had put on a skirt in the morning and I had already thought that it was a bit short but then quickly checked myself and realised that I absolutely should not have to feel self-conscious about my skirt length.  Anyway, surprise surprise as I was about to cross the road on the triangle, a white van was waiting at the traffic lights and the old man that was in it rolled the window down, gave a loud wolf whistle and shouted “oi, come over here”. And the saddest thing about this is that my immediate reaction (after giving him a serious glare) was to pull my skirt down.

It seems unfathomable for men to imagine having to consider whether your outfit is going to attract unwanted attention and cause a feeling of discomfort. It goes back to the animalistic notion of women feeling like slabs of meat. Are men such animals they just can’t hold themselves back when they see a bit of skin, or are they really deluded enough to think that a woman’s clothing means that she is, “asking for it?” Regardless, everyday objectification is real and it is a serious problem.

So, hopefully, along with Ilka and Annabel’s articles, this editor’s letter has been an apt response to those "critics" of International Women’s day, one being my "ex – boyfriend" (loose term) from year nine who posted his Facebook status as "One minute it's mothers day and now it's international Women's day. How many days do you women want?!"

But ultimately, I shouldn’t have had to write this article at all and that is the real tragedy here. 

(Featured Image Credit: today.yougov.com)