“The future is female” and “Girls run the world” are current statements printed on shirts which are striking my eyes while walking through an H&M store. Songs are shouting that girls are fighters and Hollywood embodies the principle of feminism at its best at the moment: Stars and artists are setting a symbol with the #metoo and #timeisup movements. It is true, it has never been more sexy to fight sexism.
Without doubt, the famous hashtags initiate the ever lasting debate about sexism in our western world once again – and justifiably so! The European Union researched that between 40% and 50% of women experience unwanted sexual advancements, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at their workplace. In 2016, the National Partnership for Women and Families showed that, on average, women nationwide make 80 cents to men’s dollar. The same report investigated that women with doctoral degrees tend to make less than men with master’s degrees, while women with master’s degrees tend to make less than men with bachelor’s degrees.
These are just some of the undeniable facts showing that our western society is characterized by patriarchal structures, undermining the positions of women. Besides, when considering daily sexism - no, it is, for example, not okay to stare at a woman in public transport for minutes, without blinking, and making her feel uncomfortable. No, it is not okay to speak out phrases such as “well, for a girl, you are quite good at…”. And no, men do not have the right to whistle, make inappropriate comments or do whatever, just because a woman wears a short dress, high heels, make up, etc. Those mentioned aspects are definitely nothing new and obviously not revolutionary ideals. Yet, there exist unfortunately still some idiots who do not understand those basic principles.
The question I am asking myself, however, deals with the aspect why this #metoo movement is popping up right now, in this exact moment. The problem of sexism existed long before. Is it just a coincidence that one star after the other is revealing sexist scandals? Are these actors just expressing themselves out of complete conviction? Quite unlikely. Rationally viewed, it is rather a Hollywood induced movement, underlining an on-going “fashion trend”. No powerful public figure would expose such a statement without being advised by his or her PR managers. Whereas in the past it was seen as hampering the own career and the own reputation by outing oneself, it is now a benefit and a plus for one’s image.
This hype pushed by the media about sexism – on the one hand, as already touched upon, it exhibits the reality that we are living in a society which enables sexism to breath and run free. On the other hand, I am questioning if such an extravagant promotion is actually helping, or rather damaging victims of ‘real’ sexual violence. Is it morally correct to sum up daily sexism, sexist comments AND rape, sexual violence all under one simple hashtag, invented by a PR movement? Maybe this heat wave of debating sexism will fade away as fast as it appeared. And then, we are left with the dispute whether all the tweets and posts indeed helped victims of sexual violence.