The feminine mystique still exists, but has evolved into a new dimension. Stereotypes of feminine beauty continue to haunt the female population, and its evil hands have even laid upon Olympians.
When the sixteen years old weightlifter entered the podium, she wouldn’t have foreseen such an outcome. Out there giving her all and defending British pride, Zoe Smith expected to be greeted with fervent applause, or at least, nods of approvals from spectators worldwide. Smith may have even imagined herself of becoming Britain's newest teenage inspiration after the game, that is, until she has received demeaning tweets ridiculing her 'unfeminine' muscles and manly physique.
Getting to the core of matter, I am at first bothered, then puzzled, and finally outraged, exasperated at how ignorant, superficial and irritating the general crowd can be. These people, as the media does, measure feminine beauty in a narrow, prescribed scope of set attributes - the so-called feminine qualities that every woman ought to possess in order to look physically appealing and sexually attractive. To say the least, the definition of 'feminine' is flawed and manufactured in itself. It is solely written from a man's point of view and forcefully imposed upon women, thus objectifying them and making them polished displays for men's pleasure.
By calling Zoe Smith 'unfeminine', we can see how Cult of womanhood, which can be dated back to the 80s, still haunts the female population. Cult of womanhood sets boundaries that seem improbable to cross. It takes courage, a significant amount of courage for any woman to alienate herself from the crowd, assert her own beliefs and question the commonly followed principles. The criticisms bestowed upon Smith can be attributed to the societal assumptions of how women should look and behave. The women that men desire have supple, hairless skin, long legs and voluptuous curves. The women that men lust after are nimble, feeble, meek and conforming. It is, to me, self-derogatory enough to crave the attention from this part of the male population, not to mention changing yourself, both physically and mentally, for the sake of these essentially misogynistic appraisals. Smith has set an inspiring example for every girl by retorting the tweets and referring those commentators as a group of 'chauvinistic and pigheaded blokes'. I wonder how many women have come into the epiphany which has been building up in their heads for a torturing amount of time but never reaches its breaking point until Smith’s furious words struck them.
Another thing which comes to my attention is how people tend to judge feminine beauty with a single dimension. The scale is rigid and extreme; you are either feminine, or the exact opposite. There seems to be no room for any standing in the middle, or any allowance given to lurch a step towards the more 'masculine' end. When females portray themselves as strong, capable or unladylike, they are questioned for possessing these qualities, which, most of the time, can be regarded as general attributes that every quality human being ought to develop. If these qualities look good on males, then they certain look good on females too. If strength and power makes a man attractive, then strong women also look attractive, maybe a different kind of attractive, but definitely not the appalling kind that would draw waves of unfathomable disapproval from all walks of life. The authoritative, arbitrary watershed that divides femininity and masculinity justifies gender bias and further exploits women of their deserved possibilities to personal growth.
I also appreciate Smith's insightful response concerning why men usually look unfavorably upon muscular, strong women. For one reason, they fear women that actually tie with them on physical strength, or other fields that used to be male-dominated. They fear competition and are startled by a constant stream of new contestants that threaten their authority, the whole situation made even worse by the unfamiliar gender of these fresh warriors. The statement that men are purposefully disregarding women because they fear an abdication of power from the second sex is not an assumption, but more of a generalized observation here, which is felt whole-heartedly by groups of women. When these commentators attack Zoe Smith for her 'unfeminine' attributes, it is her gender that they are ultimately shooting at. By making women feel insufficient and inadequate, it will in turn harm their confidence and mental strength, thus cementing the disgraceful (but comforting to men) hierarchy between the two sexes.
Lastly, let us marvel at the bravery of Zoe Smith on defending herself and also the rest of the female population by voicing the following speech:
'We don’t lift weights in order to look hot, especially for the likes of men like that. What makes them think that we even WANT them to find us attractive? If you do, thanks very much, we’re flattered. But if you don’t, why do you really need to voice this opinion in the first place, and what makes you think we actually give a toss that you, personally, do not find us attractive? What do you want us to do? Shall we stop weightlifting, amend our diet in order to completely get rid of our ‘manly’ muscles, and become housewives in the sheer hope that one day you will look more favorably upon us and we might actually have a shot with you?! Cause you are clearly the kindest, most attractive type of man to grace the earth with your presence."
Unnaturally brave, indeed.
Also find my other writings at: http://expertscolumn.com/content/rising-voice-freedom and http://expertscolumn.com/content/virgin-myth Feel free to comment!
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