My debut novel, A MAD, WICKED FOLLY, is based during the Edwardian era (1901 to 1910), which is a time when women were demanding the right to vote and the right to govern their own lives. During that time, women were expected to be little more than wives and mothers; misogyny was the norm and women were often treated as ornamentation. Today, women vote and have control over their own lives, yet we are still treated as ornamentation, and misogyny is alive and well.
You only need to listen to music today to understand how sexualization of women is accepted in popular music. Don’t believe me? Listen to the repulsive lyrics to the hit song Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke.
Disgusting right? I can’t imagine listening to that on the school bus. What is such a song saying to young, impressionable girls?
They don’t have to listen to it, you might argue, but according to Miss Representation, an average teen consumes ten hours and 45 minutes worth of media each day. Three out of four girls admit feeling depressed, guilty, and shameful after spending three minutes leafing through a fashion magazine. 48 percent wish they were as skinny as the models. 31 percent admit to starving themselves to lose weight.
But the good news is, young women still want to be leaders, still want to strive to reach their goals. But why should they have to do so with such awful labels, like bitch and slut, pinned on them? Why should they have to struggle with self-doubt and poor body image as they work hard to achieve their dreams?
I’ve learned to reject the idea that my value lies with I look or how I fit in, but I didn’t feel that way as a teen and young adult. I remember feeling awkward, embarrassed, wrong. Terrified of being labeled, it was easier to fade into the background where I stayed, unnoticed, until I found what made me happy. For me, it was horses, music, drama, and the outdoors. Today, it’s writing, gardening, and taking care of my farm animals. For my protagonist Vicky in A MAD, WICKED FOLLY it’s art.
I believe that each one of us possesses a unique personality that’s unlike any other, and finding what brings you joy will help develop that uniqueness. And it will help you reject the lie that you aren’t good enough or beautiful enough.
Here is the anti-dote to Blurred Lines: Beautiful Flower by India Arie.