Why Superwoman Shouldn’t Wear Tights

I think the feminist movement is fantastic. Their primary objective is to get women on an equal plain with men because women are ostracized on a daily basis. They are put down, manipulated and crushed by a system that treats them like second class citizens. The movement fights for equal rights and justice.

In doing so, they set themselves a vision, a goal. An ultimate picture of what the most liberated woman on earth would seem like. A woman who is free to wear anything she wants, work anywhere she wants, and do anything she basically wants to do, aka Superwoman. But while having a vision is commendable, this fundamental vision of the feminist movement has got its wires crossed.

The ideal that they aim for is somewhat disconnected with their core purpose. They tend to confuse ‘injustice’ with ‘values’, and what they fail to realize is that society built up some of these values to protect women in the first place, and not to limit them. If any limitation occurs at all, they are caused by the inherent socio economic nature of our environment. Values are more of a symptom of injustice than the other way around.

On the issue of clothing. Most modern clothing and ‘hipness’ is designed to accentuate beauty. It is mostly to make a woman more desirable. Whether it be form fitting apparel or make up (red lipstick and a painted face are associations to a sexually aroused woman) to ‘sexy’ outfits that reveal more than they conceal, The fashion industry is all about making a woman look attractive.

Feminists rebel against conservative society’s tendency to look down upon provocative clothing, and at the same time they demand that men ‘respect them for who they are no matter what they wear’. The inherent failure in this approach is the failure to realize that conservative society has adopted such an attitude towards such clothing in the first place only because of perversion that males could potentially direct towards women. The values exist because of perversion. Take away the values and the perversion will remain, but take away the perversion and the values may disappear.

This perversion, it is true, stems from bad morals. But to fix the problem then we have to go into the deepest roots of our socio-political-economic-moral-biological state of being. If you find the solution to the problem of male perversion in the presence of rampant skimpily dressed females then you have arguably found the solution to all the problems on earth. You’re possibly then in heaven where everyone is naked and no one has a problem with it.

But back down in Earth, most of the oppression women put up with is due to the erosion of values. It is because of the lack of equal rights and share of voice for women that the justice system discriminates against them. It is because of lack of respect and reverence for women that crimes like domestic abuse and marital rape happen. It’s because of a lack of appreciation and a bias that they are less capable that women find discrimination at the workplace etc.

So correct me if i am confused but the feminist movement shouldn’t be fighting against values but fighting for them. And the feminist movement should be fighting against the objectification of women rather than upholding it as the pinnacle of achievement. This objectified version of the independent woman is a manifestation of decades of marketing and clever branding. And the feminist movement has bought into this branded image of Superwoman so much that they’ve confused their core purpose of liberating women with the obsession of achieving this Superwoman state; blind to the direct contradiction that it represents.

It is possible that my burgeoning understanding of the whole issue is pretty basic and that there is more here than meets the eye. Perhaps certain social ‘values’ by default degrade women. And i have failed to identify them in classing all ‘values’ as being inherently good. I may be like a bleeding carp in the ocean of feminism, more than susceptible to fatal shark bites. But i stick by what I’ve said here on the issue of clothing, nevertheless.

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27 comments
  1. Nipuni said:

    Well if you actually look at it, Feminism itself has different strands. The Radical Feminists, like Germaine Greer for example, look at it from a Sexual Point of view- women are basically made sex objects at the whim of men. and freedom is for the woman to defy those pre-denominated sexual pathways and choose her own.
    Then there is the inherently uppish feminism for the wealthy types. Read rich woman with lots of money on her hands but doesn’t know what to do with it & doesn’t have the freedom to do what she wants with it anyway, here.
    But my favourite, and perhaps one of the most balanced views I think, is a strand of thought that relates to my socio-economic and political consciousness at present. I’m inherently middle class. I dont have so much money that I have the luxury to stay at home & brood. I have to work. so, no limit on the freedom of choice there.
    What I could, & do encounter, is a glass ceiling at work. and the issue of what is done & is ‘not-done’ by a girl in our society. read conservative South-Asian background here.
    So the socio-economic & cultural strand of feminism would give me the arms to fight my war. I believe I should be able to go anywhere I want in the world, alone. My parents & family think not, coz I’m a girl. I use my feminism tactics to say, book a flight to somewhere with my own cash & say, look, I’m going. My feminism allows me independence of thought & action, within defined limits.

  2. Nipuni said:

    BUttttttttttt…. that said. our values,especially our social values are very paternalistic. Only the Kandyan and some Eastern Tamil societies recognise a Matriarch. All other values are very paternalistic.

    so I agree that changing male perversions would probably need re-engineering the human race genetically. but, women should have less don’ts. Coz you know, we can do alot of things. but “values” in society have been patriarchal for so long, & our cultures are so attached to old things, it’s VERY difficult to actually define where you “values” end, and where “oppression” begins.
    and “values” are veryyyyy subjective anyway. to each generation, they mean so many different things.

    Think about it.

    • Whacko said:

      well yes of course i agree that values change along with the times. Like i said, most values are symptoms our environment

  3. T said:

    i have no idea what ur trying to say here man. what does male perversion have to do with the feminist movement and why on earth are you going on about clothes?

  4. There are several different types of feminisms at present that it’s all a bit complex. And since there are various types you’re concept of ‘feminism’ can’t encapsulate all feminist objectives- There are cultural and sociological feminist groups that are a little more receptive to these issues than other groups.

    I don’t consider myself a feminist. I think that men and women are built differently, so they are equal in the sense that each has something that other lacks. And they’re both at their strongest when they work together.

    That being said, women still lack rights in particular countries, so certain feminist movements are necessary. When looking at particular issues we haven’t really come far from when men were actually trying to decide if women had souls or when brides were selected much like how meat is bought in a market.

  5. I think as a movement, feminism is somewhat misguided. While the aim is to elevate women to a social status at which they can exercise personal choice, I feel this choice is only accepted by ‘feminists’ if it falls in line with their own choices. A sort of “either you’re with us or you’re too oppressed to know what’s good for you” argument. This is especially true with regards to fashion.

    As for fighting for/against values…well values change not only with the times but also with the region…and I don’t think a primarily Western-driven feminist movement can effect practical change in an Eastern culture, and vice versa.

    Also (slightly aside), since when were women supposed to be competing with men? A lot of women in the workplace complain that men get more promotions…well maybe the people who get promotions are just better at their jobs! A lot of feminist arguments end up proposing positive discrimination…how is that fair? Real equality would mean a level playing field for the entire workforce, regardless of gender. It irritates me that when a lot of women ask for ‘equal’ treatment, what they’re really asking for is ‘special’ treatment.

    OK rant over 🙂

  6. Jerry said:

    Superwoman looks better in tights than superman. Deep, I know.

    • Whacko said:

      wow. That touches on a lot of sensitive points. It also ties in with the idea of inherent diffences in our physical constructs that render ‘equal’ corporate treatment very hard. It also ties in with Pseud0random’s rant on expecting special treatment.

      the last part about the alpha male.. classic!

    • So I’m not the only woman who thinks that one year of maternity leave is ridiculous?! Excellent!

  7. meese said:

    I think i will explain my post and more of what i think about the comments on my post.

    See, my post was a random – in-my-point-of-view post. Its more about Sri Lanka as opposed to being about women.

    Sri Lankan women are in transition. they are caught between social limitations and western modernization.

    Its a classic case of to be or not to be. I think most sri lankan girls are confused and have no idea of who or what they are supposed to be.

    I spoke of Social limitations and then various people said there are no such limitations. Colombo is not Sri Lanka, city dwellers and ladies with connections are a different bunch from a normal woman/girl from a village.

    I think your post is accurate in the sense that values are there for the protection of womem, but if that limits a woman from being or doing something she wishes to, I think it is wrong. What we lack is a accepting society.

    The role of the female has been degraded but most households run purely on the support of the female. So there is a form of discrimination that is existent. I think the feminist movement is to blame. There is no equality what they should however campaign for is the differences and respect of those differences.

  8. pissu perera said:

    correct me if i’m wrong, which i maybe because it was difficult to figure out what you’re trying to say, but the crux of your argument here is – conservative clothing protect women from the perversions of men (i’m reading rape/sexual harassment here) – feminism is bad because they look down on conservative clothes?

    so what you’re saying is a bit of leg, a bit of cleavage and every man becomes a rampant sex maniac? i have two words for you – social conditioning. going by your argument, women in communities where nudity is accepted should be raped/groped/molested on a regular basis because men can’t control themselves.

    as far as i know, there’s no one image of what a fully liberated woman is because the experience of being a woman varies with culture, ethnicity, community and even period in time, something admittedly, early feminists took a bit of time to figure out. hence the wide range of feminisms – asian feminism, eco feminism, radical/social/liberal/black/muslim. the common factor – equal rights for women. and if you think feminism fights for the objectification of women as opposed to against it, then you and i are talking of two fundamentally different forms of it.

    @ nipuni – what exactly are these ‘defined limits’ you talk of? who defines them? and where on earth did you get the idea of “uppish feminism”? would love to know what you mean by that.

    @the puppeteer – i don’t think even the staunchest supporter of feminism believes that men and women are equal, simply because you can’t deny biology. if you think that’s what feminism is about, then someone somewhere along the way lied to you. but tell me this, do you think whacko can do your job better just because he’s built differently?

    @ PR – you haven’t heard of affirmative action? if X has been discriminated against in favour of Y for years, then someone coming along and saying i now pronounce you both equal will do nothing to solve the problem. if you take for example, the situation of tamils in sri lanka, there’s no point just saying there are no minorities in the country. you have to take steps to eradicate the inequalities, be it printing all government forms in all state languages or ensuring the state administration can talk to a tamil person in tamil. apply the same situation to women. after you get rid of the persistent inequalities, then you get a level playing field.

    about the one year of annual leave, did no one stop to think that the whole corporate world, or for that matter, the working world is built on what suits the man? i’ve heard some women who’ve broken the glass ceiling say they did whatever it took to reach the top. question is, who decides what it takes? to me, the tone of the last few comments says “you had a kid, too bad, now pay the price”.

    in case you couldn’t tell, i am a feminist 🙂

    • I totally agree with your examples of affirmative action…and I support similar measures when applied to women wholeheartedly. Equal access to education, equal pay, proper sanitation facilities in the workplace etc.

      However, if I get a promotion, I want to know that I got it because I deserved it, and not because it would make the statistics look good. That is why I’m opposed to positive discrimination. Personally I don’t think it’s easy to implement purely through legislation…the mindset of the employers has to change.

      Think about the maternity leave issue from an employer’s point of view. An employee comes and says “I won’t be in for a year, but you have to pay me for that year, and when I come back I want you to forget that I was ever away”. How is that economically viable? In my mind, this sort of thing just makes it more difficult to change the mindset of employers, and does more harm than good.

      As for ‘who decides what it takes’…I’d say the woman does. If she decides that breaking the ‘glass ceiling’ is worth putting family second, then so be it. If she decides that career comes second, then so be it. Isn’t that the whole point? That women should have the freedom to choose?

      • pissu perera said:

        i might be entering a dead conversation here, but here it is for whatever it’s worth. apologies about the delay. was caught up in a pile of stuff offline.

        agreed on the implementation of affirmative action. for example, i can’t in good conscience claim a right to any job on the basis of discrimination. but these things are never non-contentious no? for example, people from colombo needing a better z score than someone from gampaha to enter a local uni, even though they both have more or less the same facilities.

        imo you need it in certain instances even if its to make the stats look good at the beginning. one place like that is the parliament. you need a quota system at first to get women in because the “system” that we have won’t let it happen organically.

        about maternity leave, yes, i get the implications but will you agree with me that the systems that we have in place don’t acknowledge that the woman is different from the man? if you take into consideration time away on maternity leave for promotions etc, you’re virtually penalising the woman for being pregnant. i can’t see a difference between that and the views held by earlier judges where pregnancy was equated to being ill(!). mindset change is important, but i think that alone as a safeguard isn’t enough.

        i thought the point was they shouldn’t have to make a choice. a man doesn’t have to, why should a woman? 🙂

      • Yeah the z-score issue is another thing that boils my blood…but we’ll leave that for another blog post :-). I’ll accept that a quota system could be used to kick-start increased inclusion of women in the workplace, as long as it is accompanied by a concerted effort to change the mindset. My argument is that if the former is not accompanied by the latter, then the quota system has the potential to backfire.

        And to my knowledge, maternity leave is what discourages employers from hiring women of a childbearing age in the first place…so we’re penalised way before promotion is even a possibility. If, say, maternity leave was a more flexible arrangement, and paternity leave was more substantial, then it’d be less of an issue for employers.

        You mention that the sexes are different (and that current systems disregard that)…but then you end by asking why a woman should have to choose if a man doesn’t have to…surely there’s a contradiction here? Women have to choose because men can’t get pregnant, give birth and breastfeed. Simple as that. There’s nothing we can do about it. So we have to prioritise. I think it is possible to bear children and be in the workforce, but I don’t know if it’s possible to give both equal importance – that’s the choice I’m talking about.

    • Humans weren’t meant to be socially “conditioned”. We’re social creatures by nature, and perverse by nature too. We have an innate need to fuck, and maybe we were created in such a way that men are supposed to be the initiators? Maybe it’s this social “conditioning” that’s made it such an issue. Maybe it was all fine and dandy to grab a woman and fuck her brains out thousands of years ago. Women used to dominate the tribes in ancient times, until “society” came along and redefined things, when the men decided to come home from the hunt and farm and barter and fuck up big time.

      • pissu perera said:

        so what’s your point? how can you avoid the conditioning when you’re social creatures?

    • Whacko said:

      Nowhere have i said that feminism is bad. As is probably evidenced by my opening sentence. It was a problem with the vision of the feminist ‘ideal’ that i was discussing. i am all for equal rights for women. especially in the workplace. society owes much to them and therefore maternity leave should be given. but admittedly it gets in the way of money grubbing corporate culture. Another thing that is deeply problematic. But what PR said tallies with the notion of a male dominant economy that exists right now. Which possibly doesn’t have to. And Imaad has a point (in there, somewhere…:)

  9. sachtheone said:

    Seems I’m a bit late, but here’s my two cents.

    First, women should be able to wear anything (or nothing, for that matter) that they wish to, and doing so they should be able to walk the streets without being harrassed by men. They should not have to wear conservative clothse in order to be protected from male perversion. That’s like saying something like you shouldn’t earn a lot of money because there are robbers out there and in order to be protected from them you better be poor.

    That said, women should also get a grip of the things and should not go all “aaaah, men are such pervs” if and when a man take a good look at their legs/clevage because by choosing to wear clothes that expose your body parts you, err… chose to show them to the world. So if you are have a right to show them, men should also have a right to look at them.

  10. pissu perera said:

    ok, wp is being annoying and won’t let me reply to PS’s post.

    for sure. any attempt to change an existing state of affairs would need to involve a significant attempt at changing mindsets. and things like quotas need to be taken away when the desired change is in place or it becomes counter-productive.

    agreed. paternity leave should be taken more seriously, by both the employers and employees. things like that will also help shift the current imbalance of parental responsibilities that the woman mainly has to bear now.

    the minute i typed that last sentence i knew this issue would come about :). imo, and i maybe wrong, this issue of reluctance to hire women of childbearing age stems from our systems that place child-rearing (as well as bearing) squarely in the woman’s department with the father expected to play a more minor role – if we hire a woman and she decides to have a kid then we have to give maternity leave but if we hire a man, we don’t. this issue itself could be solved imo, if we give equal emphasis to the father’s role and grant things like paternity leave. and i don’t mean silly attempts like that 2 days we have in sri lanka, and have things like day care facilities at work. then women won’t have to give up one for the other.

    of course, whacko might now accuse me of trying to make mothers out of fathers 🙂

    • Whacko said:

      well breastfeeding seems to me to be an important factor in giving women priority in parental leave. and yes i accused you of that a long time ago!

      • From what I’ve heard (I could be wrong), most mothers continue to breastfeed (due to emotional attachment) long after breast milk ceases to benefit the child…so while I agree that women play the major role during the first 3-6 months of the child’s life, I don’t see why the father can’t play a more active role once that physical need has been fulfilled.

    • Re: using quotas as a temporary measure…exactly. The problem is, (as with most things these days) once the temporary measure has been put in place, it drops in the priority of the policy-makers and becomes a permanent quick-fix.

      I agree that the amount of maternity/paternity leave given (1yr on full pay for mothers and 2 weeks on reduced pay for fathers in the UK, I think) has a huge bias towards the “childrearing is a woman’s role” idea. So the laws are outdated, yes. And they need to change, yes. But I think the effect on the employer also has to be taken into account when revising the laws. Daycare facilities at work are an option for toddlers yes, but why not allow the mother to work from home if her profession allows it? There are plenty of ways to increase flexibility. The problem as I see it is that no lobbying group has actually suggested it (yet).

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