Lights, camera, reaction?
While being interviewed on the red carpet at the Screen Actors Guild awards in Los Angeles, California on Jan. 18, actress Cate Blanchett stood her ground and called out the GlamCam as it began to scan her Givenchy gown from bottom to top — and rightly so.
In the midst of the camera scanning her frame, the actress responded with, “Do you do that to the guys?” This situation isn’t the first time Blanchett has been vocal about women’s equality.
While promoting Blue Jasmine, Blanchett classified herself as a feminist. The actress feels that conservatism is affecting the way women perceive who they are in the world — especially because this patriarchal system has been in place for hundreds of generations. It is hard to have a breakthrough in women’s rights when the world is dominated by male figures.
Emily Barasch — a journalist covering Blanchett’s story — notes Blanchett is not alone in being sexualized by the media. Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female Prime Minister, claims she had been “the subject of a very sexist smear campaign.” Similar comments are made in Barasch’s article on the portrayal of Hillary Clinton.
The cover of Time magazine’s January issue depicted a woman’s foot squashing a miniature man. The headline reads “Can Anyone Stop Hillary?” Women in power are often painted as monsters trying to corrupt the carefully laid foundation that is male supremacy.
It takes a figure like Cate Blanchett to get the ball rolling and bring attention to the horrendous mistreatment of women in the media.
Hollywood is a place where dreams and fantasy come to life. However, the images that come out of Hollywood are superficial and cause women to be valued by the media for their appearances ahead of their talents and achievements.
The pressure placed on women to look and be deemed desirable by the public is highly misrepresented. The media presents a completely unattainable image of women regarding what beauty should be for the average female. These images often present women as underweight, having a small waist, long legs and large breasts.
This unrealistic expectation created by the media is why we have so many women with eating disorders, wrought with self-esteem issues. On a daily basis we are told as women that we are not good enough. We should be thinner, have longer hair, wear form-fitting dresses — all for the appeal of the male demographic.
It is a man’s world and the message is that females are meant to please them. Because of female stereotyping, it will take many more years to achieve gender equality in media; it’s going to be a continual process of changing attitudes and assumptions that requires actresses like Blanchett to alter.
The Media Awareness Network, a Canadian research and advocacy organization, found that women’s magazines are ten times more likely to contain articles and advertisements related to dieting than men’s magazines — and that three-fourths of women’s magazine covers feature articles about overhauling one’s physical appearance.
Women have always been celebrated for their physical beauty. It has been the first thing that catches the media’s attention and therefore it is the bodily image that is presented to the world. Women are constantly put under unnecessary pressure to live up to these expectations. It is an unrealistic model that is placed before us.
However, it is an expectation that plenty of society lives by. That is why you hear the term “trophy wife” being thrown around; the best looking woman is seen as a prize for the man who gets to take her home.
Even though these portrayals have been the norm for many generations, there is still a light at the end of the tunnel.
John Brougher is the founder of MaleFeminists.com and the VP of a marketing and non-profit community at technology company NGP VAN. An advocate for gender equality, Brougher sees the progress that his organization has made promoting the importance of female leadership and equal opportunity.
“Until we get a more equal world, I’ll claim that title of ‘feminist’ proudly and shout it from the rooftops,” Brougher said on his website.
Brougher exemplifies the type of dedication and devotion that feminism needs. It is so refreshing to hear a man rooting for the other side and being so resolute about it.
Feminism is a cause that will withstand the test of time, but it has a long way to go. There will always be Hollywood cameras capturing the superficial beauty of a woman, but we needn’t let those superficial moments inhibit all the progress feminism has made. Keep it up, Blanchett.
Photo: Eva Rinaldi/Celebrity and Live Music Photographer