Feminism and Inferiority: Women’s Intellectuality and Empowerement

My primary object is Evelyn’s Reed’s “The Myth of Women’s Inferiority.” The cover of the journal is very explicit and declarative with a bold font surrounded by bright red that places emphasis on its title. Within the first article of her journal, Evelyn Reed discusses the concept of women’s inferiority and its roots. Reed firstly declares that the belief that women are inferior to men is nothing, but a “myth”, which is also saliently declared in the title. Moreover, Evelyn Reed delineates the reality that women have been, by the law of nature, proclaimed to be inequivalent to men. She elucidates that men have been depicted to be “the masters in economic, cultural, political and intellectual life, while women play a subordinate and even submissive role”. The placement of men above all individuals in society is what has contributed to belief of women’s inferiority. Men have been conditioned to be the intellectual beings, the ones with utmost strength and power. While women, on the other hand, have been conditioned to be the ones in the shadow because they are naturally feeble. But why have women been proclaimed to be naturally weak? Reed explains that the erroneous statement that women are “naturally inferior” is rooted in the fact “They are the mothers! Nature, it is claimed, has condemned the female sex to an inferior status”. It is believed that the biological nature of conceiving fundamentally labeled females as the inferior sex. However, this rationale of the inferiority of women is simply just not true. As even supported by Reed, the inequality that exists between men and women is rooted not in nature, but class society. Society created a hierarchy where women placed at the bottom because they were seen as inconsequential; incapable of producing any sort of change or progress within society, which is false. My primary object lays out the foundation of my thematic, which is feminism and inferiorly. It is important to declare that women are indeed, consequential human beings. Women are individuals that do possess skills and have the ability to create change. The reason why women were not able to advance and still struggle to advance within society is because society has created a belief system that undermines their capabilities and subordinates them to the lowest and most disadvantageous state. Women instead of being recognized as powerful beings that are intellectual and progressive are objectified as sexual objects that belong in the home and not in the workforce. Women have been tied down to beauty standards that by no means embrace their true essence and solely focuses on the trivial characteristics, such as their physical, body image instead of their capability to become leaders of the world like their male counterparts [1].

 

This artwork by Barbara Kruger  presents a broken mirror with the distorted  reflection of a very unhappy and sad woman. The different pieces of the broken glass spell out the cut out message, “You are not Yourself”. The major words of the art piece, such as “You” “are” and “Yourself”  are bold, while the word “not” is not bold and declarative; the word “not” is small and it was placed in the very centered, which is almost overshadowed by the other big, bolded words. This artwork by Kruger calls attention to conformity and the dissatisfaction and unhappiness that is attached to it. This message is sent through the distorted reflection in the mirror and the distressed, desperate, as well as the dejected look that woman is portraying; this distortion exemplifies the fact that as women, society wants us to conform to this standard of beauty that is supposed to be reflective of the “ideal” woman. However, Kruger voices through the woman presented in the artwork and the declarative message of “You are not Yourself” that we, as women do not need to conform to any standards. Her work expresses the fact that we are who we are as individuals and that belittling ourselves to fit a box that society deems to be proper and representative of what a true woman is not worth it because it is simply not a true reflection of who we are. By using the word “You”, Kruger creates this intimate connection with the audience and sends this message that it is more than okay and acceptable for one to be one’s true, authentic self because as an individual, one is perfect and one is powerful and consequential and no one needs to adjust their personality or identity to fit any box that again, society portrays to be ideal as nothing positive is generated from changing one’s self in that negative manner. Conformity in this context simply produces insecurity and unhappiness.
“Sex Roles and Female Oppression” by Dana Densmore is a Collection of Articles. The cover of the journal and its first article will be one of my secondary objects; the cover of the journal depicts an unrecognizable figure standing in a position of power. It seems that the figure has a sword-like object and it is getting ready to almost defend or attack. The cover has a bold title and it is very direct with the issue that it addresses, similar to Evelyn Reed’s cover. In her cover and the first article of her journal, Densmore discusses how women are oppressed within society due to the patriarchal gender roles that have been imposed to women and men and she also elucidates the detrimental impact that the establishment of these gender roles have had on women. In her article, there is a strong correlation with Reed’s first article. Densmore explicates that women have been considered to be the inferior beings in society because of the biological nature that is within the woman. She expresses, “The creation of new life takes place in her body (she is passive even in this: her body is being used perhaps even against her will). She nourishes it there, giving her own body to build the new,  after it is born she nourishes the new organism through her breasts, protecting it and caring for it until it becomes old enough to care for it”. Through this statement, Densmore emphasizes that women have been considered to be the lower individuals within society because they are the ones who give birth and whose bodies are used for reproduction. The woman’s biological nature makes her the “sustainer” and makes the man the “doer”, which are incredibly distinct identities. The man “acts in the world with his imagination, his mind, his spirit, exerting power as an individual, creating, expressing himself, rising above the merely physical, the merely biological” and the woman “does not express her unique individuality, does not create, does not act. She is a purely biological creature, living in an alien world she did not make and does not influence.” Essentially, unlike the man who is beyond his biological traits of being physically and mentally stronger, the woman is not. The woman is feeble, passive. She naturally possesses an inability of self actualization because she is dependent on the man; the woman is simply a method of reproduction and not an individual. She is there to comply, to be obedient and to raise her children as well as develop a home. It is these deeply rooted beliefs of women being “inferior” that generated and planted the idea that women did not have much capability to establish a place for themselves within society. That women did not have the capacity for personal or global growth because she was a side part of the man and she possessed, really, no identity of her own [2].
This photograph is from the Women’s March in Washington. The photograph shows a young lady holding up a green sign that states, “Today, we march. Tomorrow, we run for office.” This photograph serves to demonstrate women’s empowerment and the fact that women do possess a high level of intellectuality and that they are not just beings that are designed to be sexual objects or just look like perfect models. In this photo, there is such a recognition of one’s power and also the collective power of all women. The usage of the word “we” demonstrates the utmost unity; it depicts the fact that as a community, women have been coming together to put a stop to society’s belittlement of them and undermine of their level of consequentiality. The woman in the photograph confidently stands tall and smiles as she strongly holds her sign as a way to show that not only she as an individual is capable and confident, but so are the many other women in society. The woman stands in the crowd ever so proudly to serve as a voice for all women and prove that women have the utmost potential to produce change within society; that women are as mentally capable as men; they are so incredibly capable, that they have the potential to “run for office” and hold not only one of the most powerful and influential jobs, but really any job of higher power because “women’s inferiority” is nothing but a myth.                  

“Miss Representation” is a documentary produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom and released in 2011, that reveals the distinct ways in which the media is advertising to the young generation the belief that women’s and young girl’s worth is rooted in their physique, beauty, youthfulness, purity, and sexuality instead of on their real and worthy characteristics, such as their capacity to be leaders, which is a fundamental element of fostering personal growth and consequentiality. “Miss Representation” emphasizes the sad and detrimental reality that men have been and are being raised in a sexist belief system where they are taught that their success is based on their level of supremacy, authority, and aggressiveness. The documentary’s goal is not only to illuminate the issue of gender roles and sexism that society strongly faces today still, but to also highlight the fact that it is imperative for everyone to value each other as whole human beings and not “gendered stereotypes” that must adjust to society’s ideal “norm”.

From “Miss Representation” is truly incredible to see the way in which society and the media affect people, especially women. By being cognizant of the fact that continuously enforcing a belief upon a group of people, one has the power to entirely cause a drastic change in the perception of the people belonging to that group is so important. This is due to the fact that by girls being objectified by society and the media, “they learn to see themselves as objects.” This is a significant issue because it is just discouraging for women. To be seen as simply an element of society that is purposeless plants this idea in the minds of not only young girls, but all women, that they are indeed inconsequential when that is entirely an erroneous belief created to prevent women from prospering. This effect is captured by the documentary when it is stated that “Seven-year-olds say they want to become president in roughly the same numbers among boys and girls. But by the time they reach age 15, the number of girls who want to be president drops off precipitously. “Women are discouraged from pursuing ambitious positions.” This declaration illustrates how lethal the portrayal of women as inequivalent, weak, and inconsequential is to the confidence of women and their status within society. The fact that as young girls grow their perception of themselves is changed so dramatically to the extent that they no longer believe in their capabilities they believed they once had is saddening and only exemplifies the importance of terminating that sexist belief system; and begin implementing and enforcing a system where men and women are equal and women’s intellectuality is not doubted or placed at a lower value. Furthermore, this documentary highlights these issues regarding sexism and the role of women within society and also highlights the importance of empowerment for women and how much positive change that can bring to society.