Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Embracing the Sacred Feminine to Finish the Sexual Revolution

"In the name of freedom, our media and advertising are ensuring that American girls and women live lives restricted by fear, self-loathing, and sexual disrespect.  As Naomi Wolf puts it in The Beauty Myth, “How do the values of the West, which hates censorship and believes in a free exchange of ideas, fit in here?”  They fit in, of course, by holding the freedom of advertisers in higher esteem than the freedom of women.  Since the deregulation of the media in the 1980s under President Regan (the same era that saw the rise of the Religious Right), the idea that media has an obligation to act in the public interest has gone out the window.  And each decade since has seen further deregulation and a consolidation of media power in the hands of a very few.  With the invention of the Internet and a proliferation of increasingly violent sexual imagery that promote rape culture in the name of capitalism, the harm to women and girls is both well documented and increasingly obvious.

Does that mean we must give up our freedom of speech, or shut down all sexiness in our cultural imagery?  Of course not.  But it does mean that we must remember that there is a difference between commercial speech and free speech, and that we must act to hold our media accountable.  Facebook’s promotion of rape culture is a perfect example:  the company persists in allowing images that promote violence against women—rape and even murder—to occupy its’ pages while removing images of breastfeeding mothers despite pressure from feminist groups and advertisers.  This is not an abstract  intellectual concept, played out in some virtual realm—it is as real as what happened in Stubenville, OH.

To honor female bodies and desirability—to truly sexually empower women—would mean an end to the digital alteration of our bodies and the free reign of images that show us bound, broken, and dead.  It would mean an end to the whitewashing of women of color.  It would mean that our images of beauty and sexuality reflect the full weight and vulnerability of what it means to be human, not a single image repeated, dissected, and left bleeding on the floor or in a cage to generate advertising income.  And these changes must be codified into law, as other countries are beginning to do (the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has banned some airbrushed ads and France has attempted to ban ads that “incite thinness”).  To do so is not to disrespect freedom of speech—which I cherish as much as any American—but to respect the freedom, humanity, sexuality, and spiritual wholeness of all American women." 

~Elizabeth Hall Magill from an upcoming book I am very much looking forward to:  Embracing the Sacred Feminine to Finish the Sexual Revolution

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