Can Dumb, Sexy Broads Rule the World?

iStock_000025391919XSmallCan somebody remind me what year it is?

It’s 2013, right? Even though we are in the 21st century, it appears that demeaning and objectifying women is back in vogue. Either that or it never went out of style.

Over the past week, media outlets around the world reported on a study ‘revealing’ women to be dumber than men about current affairs. In quick succession, was yet another survey proclaiming how men only found women to be attractive when sporting a pair of stilettos.

I wonder if they meant only in bed?

Then news hit the wires of how Justin Timberlake’s recently released music video featuring ‘explicit nudity’ was banned by You Tube (though the ban has recently been lifted and now comes with a warning of its explicit nature) Of course, I clicked on the NSFW (Not Safe For Work) link. After 30 seconds of watching three g-stringed women dancing – or rather writhing – to what could only be described as a fairly insipid tune, I was bored. The name of the song is Tunnel Vision. Pun intended, I hope.

It’s just not the nature of the stories that bother me; it’s how the definition of a woman’s image hasn’t evolved over the last three decades. Need to sell a product? Use nearly nude women. Want to give the true definition of beauty? Ask a bunch of men to compare UGGs to high heels. Want to fuel the fire of intellectual inequality? Publish one study suggesting women around the world are significantly more ignorant of current affairs and politics than men.

Who’s to blame? There’s no easy answer. In an effort to provoke, men vs. women studies still appear to be sexy enough for media outlets to publish them. And wouldn’t it have been more interesting if Justin Timberlake disrobed to push sales of his own video? (For the record, I think so).

Over several generations, women have had to fight for their equal and rightful place in the world. Advocates for the right to vote, equal pay, civil rights, pro-choice, Title IX, and anti-discrimination, to name but a few history changing platforms, can either roll over in their graves or take a breather, for now. Despite all the strides we’ve made to stand on equal footing with men, as a group, women seem to be continually pushed back to square one.

Sometimes we do it to ourselves. As a gender, we spend a lot of time bitching and moaning about the perceived behaviors of women in the C-suite; women who actually have the power to change things. Other times, the entrenched bias of old boys’ clubs continues to impede enlightened thinking.

It’s a dangerous, snowball effect. It starts with our generation’s perpetuation of stereotypes and filters down to our kids. No matter what gender-neutral principles we try to instill in our kids, the sheer power of mass media will trump all of that.

I know one thing for sure: we need to change the conversation. And we need to change it now.

Contributor PR consultant Elissa Freeman brings more than 25 years of communications experience to the pages of The Broad Side. Named one of Twitters Top 52 PR pros and Top 75 Badass Females, the Toronto-based Freeman is also a contributor to PR Daily/PR Daily Europe and is a guest columnist at You can follow her on Twitter at @elissapr.

Image via iStockphoto

  • How very, very depressing and how right you are. I still think we are way ahead of ourselves though because so many of us want to change the ratio and are no longer standing back. We are all on the front lines.

    • Elissa Freeman

      I couldn’t agree more Holly! As a gender, we take two steps forward and one step back; either by our own doing or that of the media.

  • This all makes me want to bang my head against the wall. You’re so right. For my part I think that the media image of women is far less favorable now, than it was when we were young. Women in popular culture have stepped out of the kitchen – unfortunately in most cases this is to climb onto the pole. The perceived shift in power is an illusion there.

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