Who Run The World
Madonna has crossed boundaries and broken taboos on sexuality and self-identity by reinventing herself every time, showing us that it is possible to change if you want to. Charlotte Raven (The Guardian, 2010) talks about the queenly aspect of the modern woman who thinks she is meant for better things and terms it as Madonnaesque. So how obvious can it be staring us in the face: we are the change we want be in the world!
Female empowerment is manifesting itself in different ways. Women are not sitting on the sidelines anymore: all over the world they are getting in the game, not only in pop culture but also in current affairs. We are seeing more female leaders and political organizations fighting for equal rights.
In Ukraine, for example, there is a protest group called FEMEN which tries to raise awareness of women's current issues such as sex tourism and prostitution in their country. They do this by organizing (often topless) rallies and protests, using provocative methods to draw attention stating that “Ukraine is male-oriented and women have a passive role in society; this way they draw attention for change.”
Madonna has broken taboos on sexuality and self-identity (Photo by Mastrangelo Reino)
Coincidentally, I recently had a conversation on the rising trend of women showing more skin nowadays and embracing the female anatomy. It is a cross-cultural trend: from the Dove campaign telling women to embrace their bodies and curves to Bajan soca artist Alison Hinds empowering women and telling them to embrace their sensual bodies. In her hit 'Roll It’1, Alison reclaimed the male-oriented world of soca and its dance by addressing the position women are in and turning a 'wuk up' into something to be respected and reckoned with:
“Roll it gyal, roll it gyal,
If yuh know yuh smart and yuh sexy
Never let dem abuse yuh body
Show it gyal and let de world see
Roll it gyal”
At the same time assumptions are made every day and it seems as though we must be able to do it all: “Act like a lady but think like a man.” But in reality if you are a determined individual you are soon enough considered dominating and unflatteringly manly. Whatever happened to encouraging young women to be strong and going for their dreams while remaining sexy and beautiful?
This made me wonder what women think about these inequalities and the answers (though differently expressed) show a pattern: of course, women all over do feel they are treated differently than men; whether it is at work, school or in social gatherings, there is still some sort of prejudice when you are a woman. Men are treated with more regard among other men and it is remarkable to see that sometimes even women have this presumption.
On the question of what it means to be independent, the answers differed somewhat. To some it might mean financial independence or bringing home the bacon. To others it means being emotionally as well as financially independent, not depending on any man to make them happy.
I personally think independence is summed up in three notions I got from my mom:
1. Knowledge is power (study and work hard to reach your goals)
2. Keep everything in balance (work hard but also play hard)
3. Don’t judge yourself too harshly (the world is hard enough as it is)
It eventually all comes down to empowering ourselves: confident, reinventing ourselves constantly. If in the 1960s James Brown’s song 'It Is A Man's Man’s World’ set the tone, nowadays Beyoncé’s ‘Who Run The World’ might be more accurate: though there are still women’s inequalities around the world, we are no longer sitting on the sidelines.
1‘Roll it’ was no. 1 for weeks in several top charts across the Caribbean.