I’m going to start by saying I’m on board with most of this video! Most of this video is so great. Hooray for pointing out misogyny and hooray for doing it in a 3 minute and 40 second youtube video that’s pretty watchable! Great. What I’m not down with is this: slut-shaming. Yes, this is a blog mostly about disability, and we’ll get there. Gimme a sec.
The first images/video clips that the video I posted uses to show media failings/instances of misogyny are some that show nude or semi-nude female bodies. And while I think that a naked female body should really never be exploited to sell a burger (potentially because I’m a vegetarian), I think that not all of the clips that they showed are necessarily examples of exploitation. A Rihanna music video? She’s an (extremely successful) female artist with creative control over her own worldwide brand, and if she wants that brand to include her own nudity, I don’t think that’s a) an example of the media failing women or b) something that she should be shamed for.
Yeah, I know, Sinead O’Connor doesn’t agree with me, but Sinead O’Connor has a lot of fucked up ideas about the female body. “Your body is for you and your boyfriend” is frighteningly heteronormative and also limiting. Your body, ideally, is for whatever you want it to be for. And I really do not understand how young women are supposed to process the two messages that we get the most often regarding our nude or semi-nude bodies, which are 1) “nudity or semi-nudity = objectification, which you should avoid at all costs or else… #ominous” and 2) “love your body, feel no shame, show it off! How to get a bikini body? Put a bikini…. on a body! LOL.”
We really can’t continue to live with both of those messages. Women can’t be shamed for showing their own bodies, whether it’s on the beach in the summer, on facebook (hey, you take pictures at the beach, right? Pictures. They go on facebook), or if you’re Rihanna in a music video. We cannot protest the Taliban’s mandatory veil policy and then turn around and tell our friends to wear longer skirts. Whether it’s hair or ankles or midriffs or breasts we’re telling women to cover up, we’re limiting female bodies, and that’s unacceptable. That creates shame.
And for young women with disabilities (see, I told you we were getting there) it’s especially important to know that nudity is nothing to be ashamed of, and that the body is nothing to be ashamed of. If your body isn’t functioning in the way you expect or want it to or are told it should be (by society! Shut up, society!), that’s yet another source of shame. The more we are told that nudity is something that we can see in society, the more types of bodies we will see in the media and the less women (abled or disabled, of all body types) will feel a need to hide. Or, anyway, that’s my hope. Keeping public nudity as a weird, semi-taboo thing that only “hot people” are allowed to do (and then get shamed for doing) is not how to promote healthy body image for women. So, while I love most of the video at the beginning of this post, the body-shaming I could do without. Let ladies be naked, yo.