Two recent events encouraged me to write this post today and voice my outrage at the continued systematic disrespect toward young girls and women, even in countries in which gender equality is believed to have long been achieved. Or perhaps the reason the two events are so enraging is because they are happening in a country in which women enjoy far more rights than in many other nations.
The first is the recently launched by Elizabeth Hurley Bikini Line for Young Girls. I heard about this case through the weekly MissRepresentation newsletter and I am just not sure how to react. At a first glance, the initiative seems as a fun idea and that is what is truly troubling. In a popular culture in which sexualizing and objectifying women is the norm, this line is just one more symptom of a condition, which if not treated will simply become even more widespread and persistent.
The second event came in the form of a debate, or something like it, between a female acquaintance and me on the topic of PETA’s use of women who appear abused and beaten in some of their ads targeting men. What was even more disturbing that the ad itself is my friend’s reaction to the ads. As a fervent supporter of animal rights, she firmly believes that first, any means necessary should be used to convince people to become vegans, and second, the ad does not really promote violence against women and definitely does not encourage men to rape women. Well now that’s just dandy! Since when did fighting for animal rights turn into a crusade against meat-eaters?
Unfortunately, she is not alone in holding such views. The truth is, the problem with PETA’s ad is not that it encourages men to go out and rape women; the problem is that the ad itself objectifies and sexualizes women. As I told my acquaintance, pornography is not the only way to objectify women; PETA’s ads do just that. If we truly care about the rights of all living organisms, then we should not ever agree to the idea of "any means" necessary to stress a point.