There is going to be a lot of Taylor Swift in this and I am trying really hard not to make this a fan letter, but on International Women’s day, I can think of no one else that faces insane amounts of sexism, even after making a career off of her abilities, and not her love life. Well, besides the countless other women, that is.
I can give you a lot of examples of women challenging the privileged men, and their ‘alpha types’, but at the end of the day, just being reduced to their physical assets and their ‘weaker sympathetic emotions’. As if Katie Bouman didn’t make an Earth-shattering (pun intended) discovery; as if Serena Williams didn’t win the Australia Open title pregnant; as if the women in our lives don’t have to push harder than the men to reach the same goals, sometimes even less.
Women of the world want and deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotypes, and violence, with equal rights and opportunities for all. To get us there, the world needs women at every table where decisions are being made and without being foolishly criticized for their opinions, just because.
But apparently the only thing Netflix associates Taylor Swift with, is the number of boyfriends she has had all through her life. A very normal and a human amount but apparently that’s enough to be a global lightning rod for slut-shaming, because you are a woman and you should date only a fixed, predetermined amount of men, while the people who slut-shame her have Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran, who also write about their love lives, on repeat.
It’s 2021 and Rihanna was trolled by a bunch of men, saying that her physical abuse and violence that she suffered at the hands of Chris Brown was well-deserved, because oh how dare she express her views, on human rights -and not politics- when she is a woman.
When an NFL lineman Chad Wheeler was arrested for assaulting his black girlfriend Alleah Taylor to the point where he almost strangled her and remained oblivious to it, all men had to say about the incident was that Taylor deserved it because that is what she gets for not dating black men. Entitled men thinking that a woman cannot have agency over her own sexual and romantic preferences, is more common than I’d like to see.
I could tell you a hundred incidents of women being abused, emotionally and physically, in the pop culture but it doesn’t just follow women under the limelight. Ninety-five percent of the time, every woman you know around you have been a victim of harassment, emotional or otherwise. You could open the news channels right now and somewhere in the world, a little girl is being brutally raped right now and it’s blaring on your television, for a day or two, maybe a week; somewhere around you a woman is being catcalled for wearing whatever she wants and for wearing what is ‘socially acceptable’ or because she doesn’t smile as often as she should, because she should know that she has to be auditioning for a toothpaste commercial every time she is out and about; everywhere right now, the women around you are buying pepper sprays and pocket knives and holding their keys in between their knuckles as a weapon, because it is what they need to do.
Slowly and steadily the indifference sets in as you see a new rape case on the air every day, as you see another meninist page being shared by your friend on Instagram and instead of debugging their opinions on how women earn less than men just because they work less, you start to ignore your friend’s behaviour, and eventually you stop doing that too, and brush it off.
The blinding rage that settled in the hearts of everyone during the 2012 Delhi bus rape has reduced drastically. But the trauma didn’t, the scars and the horrors of what every woman can potentially go through every day didn’t. People just made it the norm.
When the only way men will acknowledge feminism as an urgent and a real issue and not think of this as a ploy to ensnare men into traps like sirens, is by calculating whatever benefits they can gain from it, alarm bells should ring in your head.
Some mainstream Bollywood singers go on and on about how booze, expensive jaguars, and women who are eye-candies are what makes a life worth living, and people disgustingly embrace it because to that target audience women are nothing but tools of objectification and if you see nothing wrong with it, you are a part of that target audience.
A judge asking a rapist to marry the victim as a compensatory gift for what he did and then brushing off marital rape as a personal matter between a husband and wife or US senator Marsha Blackburn being the poster child for conservative views on a woman, saying that most of the times women who are victims of sexual assault are crying wolf and it’s always them who provocate the men, and Kangana Ranaut – a self-proclaimed feminist- shaming Rihanna for wearing something of her own choice and using Hinduism as a weapon to fulfill the male ideals of how a woman should act, says a lot about the privilege, sexism, and the constant battle women everywhere have to fight to be respected, regardless of their choices and opinions and these issues are amplified when misogyny comes from people of power.
Circling back to Taylor Swift, who has constantly been in the limelight for being shamed for everything she does and then breaking the records on the charts time and again, was humiliated publicly by Kanye West when she was just nineteen years old. Taylor Swift was publicly humiliated in 2016 by Kanye West who leaked a fake phone call just because, and Swift had to face insane amounts of cyberbullying which were hyped up by the media fuelling the fire and brainwashing the audience against her. Taylor Swift was publicly humiliated again when she raised an issue against Borschetta and Brawn selling off her albums against her consent but Kanye West was applauded for doing the same, by the people and the media.
Rhea Chakraborty, and the Bengali women, getting death threats for being rumored to have a hand in a murder, which is not even solved yet, Selena Gomez and Hayley Beiber receiving insane amounts of backlash, for doing nothing, from Justin Beiber’s fandom, which ironically consists mostly of women themselves, and add some more to the pile by asking the women around you about the horrors they faced in their lives, specifically from men.
So by the time you’re reading this, it’s probably International women’s day and while you wish them the day’s greeting, I hope you do the bare minimum and acknowledge the women in your life as real people with real opinions and real choices, and not just on one day.