Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Worldwide Wednesdays

Women of 2009

Because we are nearing the end of the year, I thought that this post could be one of reflection on important women of 2009. Since I didn’t think I had the authority to come up with my own list, I decided I would consult the experts...in other words, the Internet.

I simply googled the phrase “women of 2009”. I naively expected to see pages and pages of lists with titles like “women artists of 2009”, “women activists of 2009”, “women scientists of 2009” or ,god forbid, “women politicians of 2009”.

However, this was not the result. The top hit on google was this website: http://ca.askmen.com/specials/top_99_women/. It is a list of the hottest 99 women of 2009 according to voters on askmen.com. Because I know you’re all dying to find out, Eva Mendes was number one. My personal favourite actresses of substance Kate Winslet and Tina Fey were unfortunately ranked 99 and 97 respectively. Among actresses, the list includes models, musicians, athletes and a few questionables who were most likely self described cocktail waitresses/models/actresses/those who slept with Tiger Woods. The closest I got to an actual politician was Carla Bruni, France’s first lady.

These men rated women’s “desirability” and attractiveness solely on their looks. Are we not in a time when beauty goes far deeper than that? What were all those Dove “real beauty” ads for then? Being a journalism student, I hoped to see journalists who made heroic efforts in the world including Laura Ling and Euna Lee who were arrested by North Korean officials because they had been brave enough to report on that area of the world. Were they not influential? What about Aung San Suu Kyi, the elected Prime Minister of Myanmar, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, but has been under house arrest since 1990?

Oh, I’m sorry, it is difficult to look “sexy” and “desirable” while imprisoned by an oppressive regime.

Is this representative of the values in our society? Was 2009 a year like any other where the merit of a woman was based on her cup size? As a woman, looking at a list like this one (the top hit on google in this category), it is disheartening and frustrating. Ad campaigns and health classes try to tell women that their worth goes beyond their physical attributes, but it becomes harder and harder to believe this when we evidence everywhere that this is not the case. Whoever heard of a list of women with the most desirable brains?

But in my Internet search, I decided to forge ahead, be positive, and turn to a publication that is well-respected worldwide, Time magazine. (http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1894028,00.html). In this year’s 100 Most Influential People, there was a wide range of artists, media and business moguls, athletes and politicians. I flipped through the list and found that only about one quarter of them were women. One quarter? I find it hard to believe that Oprah and Angelina Jolie are the only women out there making a difference!

I am someone who tries to be optimistic about the role of women in society and the future for women, but after my little Internet excursion, I am finding this more difficult. Although we can stick by the old phrase “it’s better than it used to be”, we have become complacent. So, although this entry might seem pessimistic, I think we can take this opportunity to look to 2010 with the intention of making a change. Among your new year’s resolutions, why not make a conscious effort to assert yourselves as empowered women making a difference in the world? Make it your goal to kick out all those old, white men from Time magazine. Make 2010 the year of the woman!

Peace and best wishes in the new year,


1 comment:

  1. Hey Yamina,
    While I'm familiar with askmen.com and am not surprised to hear about their sexiest women of 09, I am dismayed that there's was the first result that showed up when you did a google search. While I'd hope that Time Magazine holds more weight in these affairs, their say appeals to a particular demographic. Thanks for the post, I'll check out those Korean journalists, they sound neat!