Rihanna and her barely-there outfit at the CFDAs was the most popular news topic this past week. I couldn’t scroll through my Twitter and Facebook news feeds without seeing some form of praise from the media world for putting her *eh-em* confidence on display. For every one criticism of her practical nudity, there were five praises for encouraging women-empowerment.
I’ve purposely avoided expressing my opinions on women sexuality until now because I honestly didn’t know where I stood, and still don’t. But I feel like after seeing the world react to a practically naked woman in such a positive way, I need to say something for the rest of us.
Rihanna showing up on a red carpet exposing her assets for the world to see and calling it a fashion statement is not okay. Rihanna being a role model for millions of young girls and showing them that walking around in a sheer dress is beautiful is not okay. The media seemed to look the other way entirely as far as this being a feminist issue, and instead opted to write an article about the outfit itself to attract more readers. Using Rihanna’s naked body as a way to draw more attention to your publication is not okay.
Although I do consider myself a feminist, I am the first to admit I don’t entirely know what it means, nor do I go around spitting on men or leave my top at home to prove a point. I have never agreed with the idea that stripping down to your birthday suit is a positive way of expressing sexuality. Yet we see celebrities like Rihanna and Miley Cyrus leaving nothing to the imagination on magazine cover after magazine cover. They claim that they are just confident in themselves and are feminists choosing to express their sexuality as a form of empowerment. Yet who’s to say they aren’t just doing so to attract more attention, publicity and purchased albums? The second scenario seems to be working more in their favor.
There have even been studies on women’s sexuality versus men’s sexuality being on display in the media to prove that women are more sexualized. One particular study found that over the last fifty years, there have been more hyper-sexualized Rolling Stones covers of women than men. Go to any magazine stand and I’m sure you will find dozens of covers with women in their bikinis or covering their breasts with just their hands, yet the most you will see on a guy is a t-shirt that is a tad bit too tight. This is not a win for women, but a win for men who get to look at these covers and the publications that get to profit from disrespecting women.
In the process of simply trying to gain the equality we deserve, women have been putting their sexuality on display in vast amounts over the last couple decades. This is because women have been taught to believe that if they want to achieve power or gain attention, they must wear less and less. Take your top off, and suddenly the world is your oyster. The way it still stands today, however, men are allowed to express their sexuality because they are men, but women are not granted the same self-expression. Women are constantly slut-shamed for having multiple sexual partners, yet the most men receive for the same thing is a high-five from their buddy. In response to this double-standard, women have become comfortable with exposing more of themselves to make a point. Instead of getting the point, society has become more used to women as sexual objects and have shown them even less respect. We aren’t even phased anymore by those magazine covers or by non-existent outfits such as Rihanna’s because it is the norm — that is really sad!
I’m not sure what solution there is to this problem other than simply just talking about it. Some women think the solution is modesty — cover up everything and treat your body like a temple. I don’t necessarily agree with this idea either, though. If we go back to wearing ankle-length skirts and long-sleeve blouses, then we are taking multiple steps backward as far as the fight for women’s equality goes. Self-confidence is one of the most important qualities in a human. Having self-confidence allows you to achieve success and happiness. So we need to stop viewing women who approach a man first at a party or a bar as desperate, and start seeing them as confident in who they are. We need to stop viewing women who wear short skirts and crop tops as “asking for it,” and instead as confident in their amazing and beautiful bodies. If we alter our view even just a little, it could go a long way. Don’t you think it’s worth trying?