Sexual freedom still maintains gender bias
On Aug. 13, Helen Gurley Brown â legendary editor of the so-called womenâs bible Cosmopolitan Magazine â died at the age of 90.
To be honest, I had never heard of Mrs. Brown â and Iâm sure that many people are in the same boat. But itâs almost impossible to ignore the impact that she had on women everywhere.
Brown became editor in chief of Cosmo in 1965, a time when a womanâs expression of sexuality, while evolving, still came down to what she cooked for dinner or how well her hair was curled.
Things have certainly gotten better, and Cosmo â with its frank depiction of sex and its status as an outlet for women to air their grievances â is certainly appreciated.
But even though women now have some level of sexual freedom, there is still a huge double standard that we have yet to overcome.
Itâs not in a blatant way â no, that would too obviously contradict the âall are equalâ stance that America has adopted. Instead, small actions and ideas have kept the glass ceiling well above our heads, within reach but impossible to put a crack in.
Iâm not talking about women in the workplace or equality in schools. In fact, according to statistics, it has never been a better time to be a woman.
Yes, Americans currently live in a society where there are more women than men in college â 25 percent more, in fact. Yes, we are seeing more women in the workplace than ever: In 2018, itâs expected that 78 million of us will be in the labor force. Yes, we are finally seeing strong, interesting, even flawed â but at least fleshed out â female characters on the big and small screens, instead of the one-dimensional cardboard roles weâre often relegated to.
But letâs bring this back to the average 20-year-old girl and her life here at USC. Why can the average boy hook up with as many girls as he wants, but the second a girl does the same, sheâs labeled a slut?
Or why is a strong, independent female student who does not want a relationship seen as a b-tch while a man is lauded for focusing on school and his future?
Why is a girl who goes out to party all the time deemed a party animal in need of âhelp,â while a boy is viewed simply as fun?
Unfortunately, even strong and sexy pop culture figures â such as Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick on The Good WifeÂ â havenât been able to do much for us overall.
After all, one only needs to look back to June when Michigan State Representative Lisa Brown was barred from speaking on the floor of the Michigan State House for saying the word âvagina.â
What were the lawmakers discussing? Abortion.
So let me get this correct: A group of mostly middle-aged men were discussing abortion, and Brown â an elected official, I might add â was barred from speaking on the floor again for mentioningÂ one of the biological parts involved in abortion?
At first glance, a little imbalance in sexual equality doesnât seem to make a huge difference. But upon closer look, itâs easy to see that such a thing is affecting our day-to-day lives. Weâre not just being called sluts on a walk of shame back from Menlo â no, women are also subjected to judgment from officials elected to protect us.
I donât see the government holding committee hearings on male vasectomies. And regardless of my opinions on abortion, I do believe in the right to choose, the right for a woman to be able to own her body and not have it controlled by men who have no idea what she is going through.
I could go on and on about this. I could discuss the stigma attached to a girl who speaks frankly about sex and relationships, I could discuss how birth control coverage provided by the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is both vital to the individual as well as the future of America, and I could discuss how a girl should be able to do everything a boy does without being judged â by both boys and girls.
Iâm not one for flagrant, out-of-control sex with everyone I know â face it, thatâs just not safe for anyone. But in my attempt to judge girls who perhaps resemble the sex-crazed Samantha from Sex and the City, Iâve missed the fundamental truth of the United States of Americaâs Constitution: the pursuit of happiness. Are only men entitled to go out and have a good time? Negative. Just because I personally wouldnât act like a lot of the girls at âSC doesnât mean that I have the right to judge them based on what makes them happy.
Seriously, every time a girl calls another girl a slut or a man forbids a woman from speaking for saying the word âvagina,â our society gets set back a few years.
No one is perfect by any means. Being flawed is what makes humanity so fascinating. But we are always given the chance to change, the chance to transform ourselves into better people overall. The next time you judge a girl, think hard about why you say certain words. Imagine a boy in her situation and see if you feel the same way.
Helen Gurley Brown once said, âGood girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.â It brings a smile to my face that in her 90 years she managed to witness a complete renaissance of female sexuality. Without her heading up Cosmo, who knows where we would be now?
So you can call me a bad girl. But I only stand up for what I believe in, choosing not to live my life chained down by double standards. Call me what you want. But it doesnât matter, because while I might not get a pass into heaven, Iâll sure enjoy my life here on earth.
Sheridan Watson is a junior majoring in critical studies. Her column âLovegameâ runs Thursdays.