Kate Upton unleashed her inner Gloria Steinem last night … and I sort of love it.
For a woman who has been so objectified – even though I kind of believe she’s in on the joke herself, and that’s a good thing, because to me that shows empowerment and ownership, combined with some self-deprecation – she took a stand.
My friend Tina (see the selfie post) immediately wrote back to me and said, I’m with Kate. And I agreed! Although my tweet didn’t necessarily convey it – and what great messages are sent in less than 140 characters?
As I told Tina, if one of us doesn’t say something, then who will?
Feminism is in a weird place right now – not necessarily where it was 25 years ago, when the mainstream media begged the question, “Is feminism dead?”
Women are asking for equal pay for equal work, and Ohio has become a battleground for reproductive rights. Hillary – a patron saint of women’s college graduates, along with Gloria – is our best bet for the 2016 presidential democratic ticket.
Meanwhile, more young girls are worried about taking the best selfie and can probably name more of the Kardashian sisters than they can the women in Congress or female CEOs. I attribute this in part to the values that each generation of parents instills in their children – my peers and I are part of a generation that included immigration, the Civil Rights act, the second wave of feminism (my mom was required to wear skirts and pantyhose to work every day as a teacher in the 1970s – now, come on!), Vietnam and Watergate.
People 10-15 years younger than me were the children of Reaganism, yuppiedom, the Iran-Contra hearings, Princess Diana and Miami Vice. And because it seems as if values skip a generation – will we be impressing the values our parents taught us upon our children? – it makes me wonder what has happened to feminism. Is it in a state of ambiguity? Is it slowly being revived or is it slowly being eviscerated?
Is it necessary for us to still stand our ground? Absolutely.
I’m currently reading “Girls To The Front,” about how the female punk scene in the early 1990s brought out a sect of feminism and empowerment, and allowed girls and young women to have a “safe space.” And I wonder, is there still a safe space for women, without being objectified, marginalized and even ridiculed? Heck, just look at the replies to Kate Upton’s post about the Los Angeles Country Club.
The death of Chatham College for Women really made me think a lot. Esther Barazzone, the school’s president, insisted that we’re reaching “gender equity” but why has Title IX and sexual harassment in colleges and universities become an issue this year? Why is President Obama championing equal pay for equal work? Why are we still being laughed at when we try to create and perpetuate #YesAllWomen, a movement that brings to light the issues that women still face?
With women’s establishments being knocked down and eradicated, we’re not building armies with each other, we’re now being forced to fight against something bigger than all of us. And I worry that instead of us banding together, we’re facing off against each other. And what does that accomplish?
So I really hope Kate Upton’s statement creates a backlash of sorts, or at least inspires people to think, hey, let’s stand up for something. Even if it’s the ham-handed creep at work who ridicules you for having a conversation about the treatment of women, or the commercial that hawks beer by using big-breasted, voiceless women in bikinis.
Kate, I’m with you. Please, continue being a voice. And I’m sorry if my tweet came off as flippant. But those Kardashian girls need to step up their game, like, last week.