An honest look at our personal and cultural modus operandi can generate a conscious rethinking of what, of our body-mind, is ours to adjust.
Who would have thought!
It is difficult to truly understand the worldwide ‘surprise’ that 200, perhaps 500 or perhaps even 40000 men thriving in our democratic free world have been – or will be eventually be – outed privately or publicly – as a part of the fallout from the #Me Too stream.
Surely, all women and all men beyond the age of 10 have long had the capacity to intuit that men of all ages have, so far, had the option to breach fundamental Human Rights to act carelessly, callously or violently towards women of all ages.
Fear – and the fear of fear itself – grip the mind, just as they grip the body. Women are never free of the fear of somehow finding themselves in a fear-inducing situation either in their home, workplace, sports fields or their streets.
The fear of shame, the fear of losing face, the fear of pain, each is part and parcel of women’s psyches. That has been the case for aeons and aeons and, indeed, throughout all decades of living memory. As a result, it is not uncommon for women of all ages to wonder how it would feel to be free, totally free of not being afraid.
What is more difficult to fathom is how global culture has for so long enabled thousands upon millions of otherwise mostly intelligent, moral men, many with credentials of the highest order and otherwise harmless wannabes, petty, insecure, local bullies or disengaged psychopaths.
Be that as it may, the situation being what it is today, name-calling, shaming the gender, revenge pogroms and witch hunts against men will not provide the long-term, deep-tissue changes that our society requires.
Once their moral compass disabled, in their totality these men of all ages have so far feel free to act and to reproduce their actions to the extent they have and thrive in every nook and cranny of the planet.
End of rant.
Take a breath!
Stronger anti-discrimination legislation is the beginning.
A myriad of most basic cultural Dos and Don’ts intended to control misogynistic behaviour are being rolled out. Perhaps, they are spelt out differently than in the past but, there are not many interpretations possible to No Means No. If You’re Not Sure … Take A Breath And Wait Until You Are Sure.
Does the meaning of this adjunct require further clarification?
Man, know thy self
Basically, if any genuine change is to happen within our young children’s or grandchildren’s lifetimes, men of all ages need to pre-plan and actively practice healthy, can-do alternatives to avoid finding themselves in the grip of testosterone surges that are, apparently, just about impossible to curb once they flare up.
If caught unawares, they need a valid Plan B.
Man, know thy self. Proactively control your T-levels. Learn deep breathing techniques. Walk away. Distract yourself differently. Above all else, rethink your thinking.
The true starting point of change will only occur when, one at a time, bolstered by a more significant repertoire of personal ethics that includes empathy and compassion for anyone emotionally or physically less strong, men of all ages decide to exercise control over their emotions, minds and bodies.
Eventually, together, they will create a critical mass of change that will influence and shape a much improved, modern version of manhood.
Until such days come to pass, as in the case of paedophilia, theft, fraud, murder and domestic violence, laws remain mere deterrents that only deter the nicer, meeker individuals in our collective cohort.
A look at the flip-side of the coin
New mind meander coming on!
When one apposes the objectification of women and men’s sexual urges combined with emotional and physical power, it is difficult to avoid considering how, generally, from their pre-teen to postmenopausal years, females present themselves to the world.
When women of all ages feel devalued by men or complain about being treated as sex objects, how not to be prompted to explore the nature of ‘sexual appeal’, as applied only to women?
A visible majority of young and young-ish women, keen to feed Man’s need to ‘see breast’, display theirs in a number of creative ways while the vast majority of men of all ages struggle to control their appreciation – or judgment – of the breasts paraded almost constantly in their line of vision.
Good for the gander
Of all the die-hard, sexist standards that have been pushed along by self-serving women’s fashion magazines across countries and embraced by women of all ages, body shapes notwithstanding, few have been more enduring and pervasive than the ‘pursuit of the cleavage’.
Celebrities of all ages, often tall, taut and terrific-looking go about their private moments and promotional business alike. They are photographed surrounded by men of all ages who rock up in a simple T-shirt, jeans and sneakers combos.
Depending on the season, these men might also wear sweaters, bomber/ leather jackets/coats. Depending on the occasion, they embrace the two or three-piece suits.
Regardless of their wardrobe choices, from neck to toes, men of all ages are always modestly, if not always tastefully, dressed.
Not good for the goose
Contrast the above with an image that would prompt typical media statements regarding most female celebrities:
The ‘X’-year-old actress/singer showed off her cleavage in a deep V-neck dress, as she joined her children/partner/co-stars in visiting ‘X place’. She sizzled in the plunging neckline cut to the navel that enhanced her physique, putting her torso and upper legs on display atop pencil-thin stilettos.
These days, mercifully, there are alternatives to evening dresses and gowns.
Business-inspired formal suits for women offer a fresh contrast to the OMG! Not another gown but, as long as the open jacket suggest or reveals the woman’s naked breasts with or without cleavage or, as long as that section of flesh is intended to be made tantalising by being pushed-up or by a revealing bra, lace or butterfly-light sheer cloth, what is different? Seriously?
Still current in 2018 is the ridiculously enduring ‘bare all’ fashion and its skimpiest skirts, shorts, tank tops and quasi-transparent fabrics that ‘cover’ to better enhance gratuitous ‘tit and leg displays’ still adopted unquestioningly by Millennial women.
Up to a point, these wardrobe choices are perhaps more prevalent in temperate and warm climates, but they are also pushed along by an endless, relentless parade of semi-naked celeb ‘sightings’ on the side panel of our computer screens and the enduring front-page photo selection of iconic women’s magazines.
A prêt-à-porter fashion which appears light and comfortable but is unnecessarily revealing, unsafe and impractical for daily wear cannot possibly have been designed for the well-being of Woman.
This strategised, peek-a-boo, revealing semi-nakedness serves to trigger, even in unwitting bystanders, emotions and thoughts of either appreciation or denigration that break-up presumably otherwise humdrum moments on buses and trains, in local malls, cafes and bars – not to mention in nightlife venues.
Women doing it to themselves
When it comes to footwear as ‘fashion reinvented’, whether they are considered feminist or misogynistic declarations of womanhood, high heels, too, have been around for a few centuries already.
Back in 1604, Shakespeare’s Emilia and Desdemona already had them adorning their feet. After all high heels do date back to 3500B.C.
That said, the gold medal for heeled shoes has got to be awarded to the current perilous height of ‘stylish heels’. Especially intended glamour-shopping, evening and night-out fun, times of notorious tottering stability, resulting complications often go well beyond the embarrassment of a public fall and living it down.
Understandably, these shoes break all records for inducing metatarsalgia, stress fractures and an odd assortment of broken bones. They also facilitate aggressions that, perhaps, might be avoided if ….
The unabashed purpose of fashion is still to place women in constant sexposition – that is, positioned as props intended to be sexually relevant in the background of otherwise mundane situations.
The baffling question to ask is why so many women of all ages, famous or not, have chosen – and still do – to titillate men, friends and strangers alike, by displaying as much of their breasts or legs as is legally permissible.
Can it be argued that women are doing it for themselves? Or that they are doing it for the viewing pleasure of other women?
How is it possible that these prevailing attitudes have not yet been flagged as entirely anachronistic while women of all ages are still trying to achieve equality and parity?
When do private and collective responsibilities kick in?
More endangered than need be
Fact is, in the mainstream West, we have forgotten when and how to reveal our body. Despite the array of stylish, decent wardrobe options that have always been available to the ‘modern’ woman, modesty has been virtue shed several decades ago. We behave and dress as if we have forgotten that there is so much more to us than our appearance.
Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes – Within every woman, there lives a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. She is the Wild Woman who represents the instinctual nature of women. But she is an endangered species.
Don’t we have more than our breasts that is worth pushing forward?
As a flow-on from this thought, it can be safely assumed that this mind-meander is about flagging the reality that women have long ago chosen to be their own worst enemies for the sake of the reflection they imagine in Man’s eyes, the beholder of choice.
Man and Woman, we are much more than living/breathing, articulated fashion ‘mannequins’, fashion ‘plates’ and ‘clothes -horses’.
We do have an inner self. Our worth as human beings is measured on a much different, higher scale.
Sure, that inner self, for the most part, has become more negligible to our day-to-day than our negligees.
That said, the self-control we should practice, different to that of men, is better judgement in regards to wardrobe aesthetics. That said, though harder to acquire, an aura of self-respect, self-worth and determination, of joie de vivre and empathy, coherence and integrity, have been proven effective turn-ons.
Equally, these attributes yield health benefits that are not in question.
So, what have we got to lose?
Time to step up, not step out
After all, thirty-three years ago already, Annie Lennox, in Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves, was telling us about ‘a song to celebrate the conscious liberation of the female state. Mothers, daughters and their daughters too. Woman to woman we’re singing with you. The inferior sex has got a new exterior.’
Isn’t it time to bring on that ‘new exterior’ to bring about a greater degree of coherence between what we feel, what we think, and what we do?
© 2018 Carole Claude Saint-Clair