In 1991, Naomi Wolf published The Beauty Myth detailing her understanding of how women continue to be oppressed throughout society for the benefit of men. Wolf argued that the instigation and use of the myth of beauty would be men’s ultimate weapon against women and their perceived rising power. Women continue to face blockades in the workplace due to the political and systemic use of beauty to define worth. Although men define the ideology of beauty, the demarcation of beauty is not defined thereby leaving the female confused about her own feelings of self.
This allows big corporations to unfairly levy women’s work, increasing their revenue while enriching both female expenditure and manageability. This has, in turn, reduced the female’s self-esteem, a powerful tool for control. Naomi Wolf wrote this book in 1991 following both the first and second waves of feminism. Are we embarking upon a third wave of feminism? Many skeptics of feminism report that the previously overwhelming injustice towards women and their cries that created and sustained Women’s Rights movements have now been diluted to a mere whimper. Is there any truth to this statement?
I want to use this article to examine what if any changes have happened since 1991 and how women’s lives may or may not have changed. Women have always been necessary to the workplace even if not respected for their contribution. Latent history informs us that due to the First World War (WW1) in 1914 -18, women were necessary to move out of the home where they worked to fulfill the employment gap due to men being at war.
When the war ended, women did not naturally want to give up this level of financial independence and return to the home. Cross-referencing historical information, the fight for Women’s Rights began much earlier therefore women were already aware of the injustices towards them thereby informing of the reluctance to ‘return to the home.’ In 1848, 68 women and 32 men outlined grievances towards women including women having the right to
vote, and signed a Declaration of Sentiments in New York. It was in 1872 that saw the national movement begin in the UK in the form of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage and later the more influential National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. Without this cross-referencing, one would be forgiven for mistaking that up until WW1 in 1914; women were not knowledgeable about their unjust treatment towards them.
The knowledge that women did indeed know that they were being mistreated and that they felt strong enough to take action in different forms showed both tenacity and strength, words that were not used to describe women at all. Since 1991, what has changed to strengthen Women’s Rights to being more equal to men?
Not much, in my opinion, from the viewpoint of entry-level top careers for women. However,h according to a recent research carried out by Astbury Marsden; this year has seen an increase of 100% of women in management positions. This equates to 12% overall from 6% overall last year. We should be grateful! What about the significant pay gaps between men and women for equal jobs?
Well, according to Dr. Carla Harris from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), the gap is widening, currently for every dollar a man makes, his female counterpart earns 82 cents. I doubt very much that you will find a noticeable difference in the UK. In fact, upon research, women earned 15% less than men. Is this gap made worse in poor economic
times? So not much has changed in terms of respect for females and their contribution to society and society. Not much in terms of how females are viewed, mostly negatively and for sexual pleasures. However what is more startling (perhaps an over-exaggeration) is that although there have always been women ‘night-workers’ (prostitutes), women appear to be engaging in their own war against themselves. Let me put this into perspective about this internal war going on with women. Notwithstanding the ‘glamour’ needed for night workers to attract for work.
Women are now using this same concept for their self-esteem. Those women did not care for their looks previously, as their grooming ritual is natural in attracting a mate. However, because of the Beauty Myth, the natural birthing process of grooming for a mate has become blurred, confusing and instills a lack of confidence in a female. The precocious instigation of the Beauty Myth undertaken by men but calculatingly not clearly defined (Naomi Wolf) has left women attempting to attain not just the indescribable but the unattainable as beauty is left open for interpretation by the beholder (men).
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