According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, oppression is a sense of being weighed down in body or mind.
Aside from the power complex of an authority exercising cruelty over a supposedly inferior population, this definition of body and mind strikes me as so relevant to the way America treats its women.
There is an ironic idea that America works to free women of unequal opportunity, and elevates them above that of the way other countries treat their women.
There is a popular global idea that other countries like Iran, India, and Saudi Arabia “oppress” their women because of religious authorities forcing things like the “hijab,” disallowing them from driving cars, or preventing them from seeking an education. There is an idea that these countries do not free women of sexist men who take every opportunity to rape their women and take away their freedoms.
Malala Yousafzai became the symbol of freedom for women in Pakistan after she was shot by Taliban militants because of her initiative to become educated. She is the token of education, and of social liberty among these women who live under “oppressive” governments.
These countries are oppressive; there is no denying this fact. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the number of reported rape cases shot up nearly 900% to 24,932 in 2012. In comparison, the IB Times UK reported that Sweden is the country with the highest rates of rape in all of Europe. The UN reported 69 rape cases per 100,000 inhabitants in just 2011.
However, Americans have been brainwashed into thinking that their country is the basis of freedom – it is the model for other countries to replicate – especially when it comes to women. However, rape rates are tremendously higher than those of other countries. In America, there are 293,000 victims of sexual assault every single year, according to RAINN.
There has been a neglect of the numbers and the statistics. Let me put it this way: American media completely disregards the amount of rape and domestic violence that happens on its own land. In an article titled Is India the Rape Capital of the World? Sally Kohn said, “We’re horrified by news reports of rape in India and feel lucky we don’t live there. But the country with the highest rate of sexual assault isn’t India—it’s us.” The U.S. ranks number one in rape rates across the globe, with India ranking third.
Not only does it ignore these facts, it also doesn’t realize the intensity of the oppressive realities our women have to face.
If a girl doesn’t work on her weight and body, and does not have the face, the boobs and the butt to satisfy the eyes of man, then she is unattractive and therefore, seen as almost worthless. If a woman does not show her body parts to attract the attention of man, then she is not worth looking at and she is no longer pleasing.
Why haven’t Americans recognized this detrimental form of oppression?
America oppresses women through its incessant action to work towards enforcing the body of a women as a tool and as an object. Women are sex objects in America. Women take up television screens and beaches dressed in bikinis, completely revealing their bodies, in order to please the eyes of man.
I praise new trends of modesty that fashionistas have implemented in society today, such as Ahfif and RAYAN, who work hard to preserve the female body, not one to be sexualized; rather, to be glorified as one with intellect and internal beauty.
Women have become sexualized, rather than uplifted to the status they should be regarded at. This sexualization of women will continue to amplify the male superiority complex, with men looking down at women as nothing more than an object that is pleasing to their eyes and bodies.
Unfortunately, many women believe that revealing more and more of their skin is a form of feminism, or liberation. In the 1920s, women began actively countering the idea they found oppressive: they were to be covered to their ankles and to their wrists. Dresses became shorter and tops dropped lower. What was meant to be a form of freedom at the time has now turned into a complete degradation of women – lowering them down to just a body – with no mind of intellect and no heart of beauty.
America needs to snap out of this fantasy it is in, thinking of itself above all other countries because of its “just” treatment towards women.
Show me a day when American women will wake up one morning and not find it necessary to adjust the manner in which they adorn their bodies in order to defy the sexualization and the lack of social freedom for them in the U.S.
This is not liberation; this is oppression.