It’s all very well to watch Mad Men and have a chuckle at the quaint, naïve sexism of the fifties. However, do not assume that because when you go to work no one pats you on the bum and calls you ‘Honey-Bun’ sexism no longer exists. This is wrong. Although women’s higher status in contemporary (Western) societies has fooled many into making (falsely) era-defining statements such as women ‘Have It All’ and ‘Feminism is Dead,’ there are still a number of facets of gender relations that indicate a festering, sexist zombie lurking beneath the glossy surface of our progressive Girl-Power mindset.
In her provocatively titled 2012 book, The End of Men, Hanna Rosin argues that women’s almost worldwide soaring achievements in education and work indicate the imminent fall of patriarchy. This will pave the way for a new age of powerful, organized, super-competitive career women who somehow do eighty hours of work a week as well as raising (preferably female) children and doing all domestic cleaning/cooking/maintenance. Although Rosin’s book is thought provoking and rather inspirational for an overachieving twenty-something professional uni-student, I can’t help but feel unconvinced. Rosin can spew out as many well picked statistics about how “Women own more than 40% of private businesses in China” or that “the number of women with six-figure incomes is rising at a much faster pace than it is for men,” but I still think it doesn’t change the ideologies underpinning society. Call me a pessimist, but I believe that the more economically and occupationally powerful women become, the more a certain type of man will try to undermine this through damaging, objectifying and old-school sexist hate.
One thing that was obvious from reading Rosin’s book was that masculinity is under pressure to change, and although some men are totally up for exploring what the twenty-first century has in store for them, others are resistant, regressive and spiteful about the fact that it’s not the fifties anymore and they can’t just drink scotch in an office all day, wear a suit and beat their wife. But how can these ‘Omega Males’ vent their bubbling ooze of hatred, spite (and fear) of successful, powerful women who are smarter and earn more than they do?
Recently online there has been a surge of a certain type of porn that involves ‘Creep Shots’ and ‘Revenge Porn,’ the existence of which I believe completely undermines Rosin’s hopes for “A New American Matriarchy.” Creep Shots are photos taken by men of women in public places going about their business with demeaning, objectifying, slut-shaming and rape-apologist captions. Wait! It get’s worse. Just when you thought you had got inside away from the sniveling sexist sleaze-balls out on the street, Revenge Porn takes creep shots to a whole new level. Ever made a home-sex vid with your boyf? Taken a few sexy shots to text him while you were bored? These just might have made their way into these sites where grumpy ex-boyfriends get back at their jilted/jilter lovers by putting them up for all their Omega-Bros to see. This has been personally damaging for women of all ages from slut-shamed high school girls to high powered executives who logged onto Facebook one day to find that ‘Those’ pictures had been tagged though their personal page to a Creep Shots page. Ouch.
The reason this is such a problem for contemporary gender relations is that it signifies an underlying sense resentful masculine entitlement, a feeling that women’s bodies are public property, and that no matter how powerful and independent you think you are, these dead-beat, porn-watching losers have ultimate power over you, even after you think you got them out of your life. Germaine Greer once said, “The victims of pornography are men, not women,” however, in the climate of omnipresent Internet photo-sharing technology in which non-consensual sexual photographing of women by men has driven some women to attempt suicide or lose their jobs, I wonder if this is still the case.