Flipping through a Cosmopolitan magazine in the supermarket while waiting for my brother, I thought about the modern day woman in the globalized world. I couldn’t decide whether she was a winner or a loser. According to Cosmopolitan, she is expected to be successful, fun, confident, rich, slim, beautiful, fashionable, sexual, individualistic and fearless among other things. She should own latest runway pieces, and somehow manage to juggle her successful career, always look good, have a healthy relationship, eat a balanced diet, gym and going out for drinks with her girlfriends. Except for the gym, she is also expected to do all of the above in heels. Flipping through these pages for a couple of minutes, I was already feeling undermined. My part time work and assignments alone leave me with no time for anything else. I was suddenly reminded why I stopped reading Cosmopolitan magazines in my teenage years. I was smart enough then to know that I did not need to be constantly bombarded by all the ads of products I need to correct all the imperfections that I may have. All the glossy paged ads of beautiful young models and brands you can’t afford does nothing for your self-esteem. Even before Cosmopolitan, there was to Barbie to look up to, she has about a hundred different careers, a convertible, a boyfriend, the right but unrealistic body curves, a dream house and always looked so beautiful. Yes, women’s roles are changing and yes, we have more rights, a voice, and better education and career opportunities now than ever before. Surely this means women are winners in today’s globalized world?
Wrong. The year is 2014 and there are still persistent gender inequalities in developed countries. Women are still fighting to climb the ladder in the workplace and are constantly outraced by their male counterparts. According to statistics, women earn just 77 percent of what men earn for the same nature of work. One in every three women is likely “to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime” according to Ban Ki-moon. Although women make up half the global population, they hold only 15.6 percent of elected parliamentary seats in the world. Needless to mention that many of the issues women face could be solved if women had more access to political participation. Looking at the all the other issues that women face in the developing world needs a new post all together.
While skirts and getting shorter and heels are getting higher, has the sexual liberation of women gone too far? Last week I was mortified when a young girl stumbled out of a taxi in tiny micro-shorts and heels, completely disregarding the fact that she was disrespecting the culture of a conservative Muslim country. I believe in freedom of choice, that there is power in ownership and that women should own their sexuality, but it seems sexual liberation is increasingly leaning towards degradation. Moreover, the sexual degradation of women through ads, music videos, and the general media has no limits.
These pictures simply cannot be classified as sexual liberation. They are not only degrading but it is also objectify women and glorify violence against women. They add fuel to the growing rape culture fire.
Embracing globalization means adopting the Western culture, sadly this is done at the expense of other beautiful cultures and traditions.
Westernization also creates loss of identities and a homogenous identity. Ethnic traditional or religious women seem to have no place in the globalized world dominated by Western ideologies. For example, skin whitening is popular in Indian culture and the idea that whiter skin is more beautiful than darker skin tone is brought on through globalization and Western media imagery.With the ever changing roles and changing beauty standards of women, it might be difficult for some women to feel beautiful or good enough in an airbrushed photo shopped world.
Balqis Hindash Middlesex Dubai Campus