In light of the recalibration of economic development projects which are steering resources towards women around the globe and women as well as men are stressing the importance of creating the framework for girls and women to Lean In in order to improve our personal lives as well as our communities, this proverb rings truer and truer to me with each passing day. Women are often viewed (and frequently view themselves) as by-products of or less substantial than men. This has been taught in scripture (esp. Judeo-Christian-based) and is reinforced daily in our politics, the labor force and in households. This dominator view of the genders marginalizes women and our capabilities and prevents the creation of true and equal partnerships which will be essential in eradicating poverty and creating a balanced and harmonized world. All the military and financial weapons in the world will never bring peace. Only social equality, justice and fairness can do that.
Media and film play a huge role in all of our lives and is instrumental in the shaping of our views on gender and the roles we should play throughout the world. As a case in point, UN Women has joined forces with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to examine the depiction of women and girls and the effects thereof in popular media: Geena Davis, United Nations Team Up to Study Women in Film, At The Movies, The Women Are Gone. The need for such studies exposes how heavily popular visual media and films influence cultures and social values and how seriously this influence should be taken.
Black Women in Media & Film
These past 2 weeks have been eventful for women of color, especially Black women. I feel as if I am witnessing a perfect storm brewing as regards the issues Black women face. All of the millennia of neglect and disparagement are being brought to the forefront and addressed in various ways which lend us more clarity to begin to fully grasp the enormous complexity of our situation and, thus, the tools to empowerment which will allow us to more competently handle society’s negative & biased objectification of us.
Gabrielle Union, again, has been highly instrumental in this evolving discussion and I cannot express how grateful I am for how she has and is representing us by sharing her truth in speeches, interviews and now in her television series Being Mary Jane. On the surface, this television series is about a successful woman searching for complete fulfillment in every aspect of her life. The very real themes of being single and searching for love and deeper connection in a dysfunctional environment, being a main economic support base for family members as well as wanting to expose society’s biases towards Black women in her television show have been brought to life in this series. It is entertaining but also emotionally involving. It is highly refreshing and comforting to me and I can only assume many others who are confronted with the same circumstances.
The following Salon article (Thank You Salon!) addresses one of the many topics that arose in the Being Mary Jane premiere: “Why Are Black Women Less Attractive?” Asks Psychology Today. Yes, this is real and the “research” was released this decade.
I would like to close this post with the following proverb from an Ojibwa Elder which everyone should consciously breathe in and infuse their soul with:
“The woman is the foundation on which nations are built. She is the heart of her nation. If that heart is weak, the people are weak. If her heart is strong and her mind is clear, then the nation is strong and knows its purpose. The woman is the center of everything.” – Art Solomon