The images I shall be contrasting in this comparison essay are photographs that focus on feminism in society. Image number 1 was taken at a protest outside a Miss World pageant in 1970 by an anonymous photographer. The second image, taken by photojournalist Steve Rhodes at a San Franciscan gender equality march, was taken in 2012.
Feminism ridicules the inequality of the social standing of women, in the economy, in the political world, and in civilisation as a whole. This includes trying to establish the same opportunities for women in schooling and in the workplace as men. It has developed in a range of ways and reacts to disputes such as the way sex and the different genders are perceived in society. Campaigning for equal rights has made people aware of protecting women from forms of domestic violence, including sexual harassment and assault. They have also advocated employment rights, including maternity leave, and against forms of discrimination against women in mixed gender workplaces.
The first image is from a protest against the objectification of women in events such as Miss World. The photographer, unknown, captured the passionate views of the women who have had to deal with being objectified by the men, which unfortunately still happens today. Their vehemence is shown in the plaques and signs they are holding, and where they are holding them, which is outside the Royal Albert Hall where the Miss World pageants took place in the year of 1970. The group of feminist protestors were also known for throwing flour bombs during the rally.
As well as throwing flour bombs, the Women’s Liberation activists bought tickets to the event and threw stink bombs, threw pamphlets and threw smoke bombs at the organisers inside the building. The proceedings and actions carried out by the feminist supporters were also in defence of imperialism and racism against women as well as objectifying their bodies at such an event as Miss World. Women’s Liberation were opposing the panel of males at Miss World that judge women on their appearance only.
Feminist movements and the Women’s Liberation in the 1970s were also shunned by females themselves, most notably Margaret Thatcher, who believed that women could be powerful without these types of organisations fighting for equality at that time; she believed that she was an example of this since she became successful before feminist groups came into fruition. Before these feminist parties became recognised in society as positive groups for women, the word sexism had no meaning and had to be created; before this, females simply labelled sexists as “male chauvinists”. Nowadays sexual objectification of women is not necessarily celebrated in the media, but is used as a tool in advertisement and marketing.
However, although feminist organisations still protest to this, they are more focussed on female empowerment and the objectification of women is used as a contributing factor for female control and authority in media, which then transfers into society today. As a result of this, female objectification has changed from something feminist groups, like in the 1970s, very much were opposed, now it has been turned on its head to be something relatively positive for the feminist communities.
The photograph of the 2012 women’s rights march by photographer Steve Rhodes depicts a man walking in an equality march for women. The fact that he is a man could make the message of the rally more prominent and could garner a greater reaction from the public because a man is showing support for his female peers. This view could also be contradicting, however. A man having to walk for gender equality could also imply that times have not changed all that much and men are still regarded more highly in society than women, and a man’s view is much more imperative than a female’s.
As the image shows a man is supporting women’s rights, the message is put across to the audience and spectators more powerfully because a male disagreeing with being considered the greater gender is something to talk about. It expresses the fact that men do believe that their female peers should be considered equal to them, and not the less significant gender.
The sign, “I refuse to have misogyny massaged into the corticalization of my brain,” shows the changing views of women by men, with this particular man against female discrimination, violence against women, and female objectification. Some individuals are more enlightened to gender equality in today’s society due to being brought up in a different type of environment, with television and Internet easily accessible, this could be a contributing factor to this male’s understanding of the way females should be treated in society.
Misogyny, defined as “the hatred of women” refers to the complete opposite of what the first 1970 rally was about, which was protesting the glorified sexuality of women for the pleasure of men. Although, being misogynistic can include dehumanising women to the point of men thinking that a woman is for their enjoyment only, and objectifying and crudely commenting about them; a two-dimensional perception of women is focussed on and men only concentrate on a woman’s body and physical appearance.
The equality march in the second picture took place on Women’s Equality Day 2012 and the political Republican National Convention was beginning that same day in Tampa, Florida. Similar events to the march held in San Francisco also happened in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The many marches that took place on Women’s Equality Day could have been linked to the Republican Party in the United States as they are known to be against women being treated the same way as men in their society. It is also known that the Republican’s do not believe women should earn the same wage for doing the same job and having the same career as their male counterparts.
Margaret Walters (2005). Feminism; A Very Short Introduction. London: Oxford University Press. 56-177.
London Feminist Network. (2013). Womens Liberation and Radical Feminism 1970-early 1980s. Available: http://londonfeministnetwork.org.uk/what-weve-done/what-we-did-in-2010/womens-liberation-and-radical-feminism-1970-early-l980s. Last accessed 07 Apr 2013.
Susan Walsh. (2013). Feminism and Sexual Objectification. Available: http://www.hookingupsmart.com/2013/02/21/politics-and-feminism/feminism-and-sexual-objectification/. Last accessed 07 Apr 2013.