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Quit judging, start supporting one another

Allie Richthammer | Sunday, September 22, 2013

Ms. Peña:
After reading your viewpoint article – “What It Means To Be A Woman” (Sept. 18) – I am discouraged. I am discouraged that the comments of a boy caused you to have an eating disorder at such a young age and discouraged that there are college-aged men who cannot respect a woman’s right to say “no.” But most of all, I am discouraged that you feel you need to blame women for their own objectification.
At the beginning of your column, you cite the various barriers women have had to face in their struggle for equality. You failed to mention one of the biggest and most problematic barriers of all: ourselves. Instead of putting what other women are doing under the microscope, we need to support each other. We stand no chance of getting ahead if we are not all fighting on the same side.
Instead of shaming a woman for posing for “Playboy,” why are we not focusing on the fact that the unrated version of the “Blurred Lines” music video has over 20 million views on YouTube? This song – which I was shocked to hear that you love, in spite of its blatant disregard for boundaries and perpetuation of the idea that rape victims were, in the end, “asking for it” – is an excellent example of men, not women, exploiting the female body.
In fact, in both stories that you shared, the ones that are enforcing the gender stereotypes are men, not women. How can you blame women for doing something that men have conditioned us to do for years? Further, the fact of the matter is that some women are porn stars, dumb blondes and great cooks. But some women are also successful politicians, bestselling authors and world-renowned scientists. Celebrating our unique and diverse qualities as women means also celebrating the stereotypes, regardless of your opinions on them.
I was also disheartened by your apparent disdain for feminist writing. After all, at its basis, feminism is simply the belief that men and women should be equal in all aspects of life. Why is it so wrong for women to stand up for themselves and object to unequal treatment from men?
If you feel that objectification is something that is not discussed enough in our society, I encourage you to watch the documentary “Miss Representation,” which recently was added to Netflix’s streaming service. Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” also provides great insight on the growing role of women in the workplace. At the end of the day, women need to look out for each other, and there is no time like the present.