For centuries religion, culture and society have been dictating how women should be treated. We are told how to behave, how to dress, how to communicate, what weight we should be. How we should submit and listen to our husbands in marriage and then let them also dictate our status in society. We are basically told we are not good enough without having a man in our lives to make things better.
The influence of Media
Media comes in the form of radio, television, newspaper, magazines, movie theatres and now the internet and social media. These mediums play a huge role in how we are influenced because often their messages are very subtle and seen only by the subconscious mind. Human behaviour studies have proved that repeated messages in different forms instill beliefs especially in your formative years. I also know from being an online marketer that your target market needs to see something on average 7 times before they make a buying decision.
A perfect example of this is the movie “50 Shades of Grey”. Mothers were up in arms about this movie because it sends out the wrong message to young girls of what an ideal relationship is. But what about boys? What message does it send out to them? It is easy to see it in a movie targeted at relationships but have you thought about what media looks like as a whole and the messages being sent out:
Have you thought about how music is presented to boys and girls? We all know how powerful music is. “Look at us in the media!” “This is how you do it!” It’s okay to be treated like a sex object. Conveying a message as to how boys should view and treat girls and how girls should behave.
The constant messages being repeated over and over through media, religion, education, communities, families and government communicates how women should be treated by both male and female, and how we should behave towards each other. The message is clear, you are the perfect woman if you:
- Improve your self image and look like model X. The ideal woman.
- Find a good man to belong to if you do not want to be seen as a failure.
- Keep your man happy and raise the children. If there is a problem in your marriage it’s your fault!
- You cannot be paid the same as men because they are more superior.
- If you have sex outside of marriage you are a whore and not good enough for society or for a good man.
- If you have your own mind, stand up for yourself, you are a stuck up bitch.
The result of these messages is that women live with low self esteem, fear, and a constant feeling of “I’m not good enough”. Women constantly compare themselves to each other. Women compete with each other – competing with each other to the point where things can get nasty. Women throw themselves at men, seeking constant validation. Women allow themselves to be abused by everyone at home.
There is this underlying expectation. Because you are a woman you must be paid less than a man. Because you are a woman, you are not entitled to the same benefits as men. Because you are a woman you are not allowed to voice your opinions or make decisions. Because you are a woman you must do almost everything in the house and work on top of that. Because you are a woman you are not important. One has to ask the question, who created these rules?
To seal our fates, women also allow themselves and each other to be treated this way by what we allow people to say in conversations and by what we allow our children and ourselves to view, read and listen to in media. We stay silent when men whistle at us and talk dirty to us while walking down the street. If we don’t, we are labelled as bitches or stuck-up or you are told something is wrong with you. We put up with pushy drunk men in bars who won’t leave us alone. We put up with jokes about women at work an flirtations in the workplace for fear of losing our jobs.
How we behave towards each other as man and wife in our conversations and in our actions, constantly sends out messages to young boys and girls as to how things work. What and who you surround yourself with is what your children will think is acceptable. We lead by examples.
How does this thinking, this indoctrination, this conditioning impact us as women?
You continuously have to fight the self-limiting belief of “I’m not good enough”. You do things that indicates to bullies and abusers that it’s okay to take advantage of you, that it’s okay to run you down and to hurt you. Or worse, to protect yourself, you become the bully or the abuser and you become the tyrant, a hardcore bitch no one wants to be around. You take on more than you can carry trying to please everyone at your expense. You live life living someone else’s rules at the cost of your own happiness. You constantly feel the need for validation from someone else. It impacts your career and your business.
In a society where it still seems acceptable to treat women this way, how do you cope? How do you being the recovering process to become the person God intended you to be?
- Have a strong support system in place. Where you actually feel that no matter what you do, or have done or how you may have behaved, there are people who care about you. That you are accepted for who you are, both the good and the bad. This helps you gain confidence in yourself and it gives you the strength to face life.
- Stop listening to what society dictates. To have a better life you have to change old habits and break away from systems that keep you prisoner. You cannot go on doing things as they’ve always been done and expect change. Stop believing in everything at face value and check the facts, a lack of knowledge is what is destroying you. Turn inward, ask for guidance, direction and support, God will always have help ready when you need it.
- Change the way you think. You need to change the way you feel about life and this begins in your mind. What you think about becomes your reality. Right now you are most likely sitting with repeated thoughts in your head of “I’m not good enough,” “I can’t do this,” “What will people think” and so on. You need to re invent yourself and align with the person God intended you to be. Make personal development a way of life.
- Get the help you need. The education system is an institution founded on social conditioning with the sole purpose of creating a workforce that corporations could control. By the time you leave school or varsity you have accumulated a lot of conditional thinking that does not serve you but keeps you trapped. Whether it be NLP, hypnosis, spiritual healing, life alignment or whatever – Do what it takes to work through fears, especially the deep rooted ones. By the time we’ve left school we are sitting with a lot of unnecessary stuff we need to get rid of. Having a third party shine the light in these areas helps you to let go and to move on.
- Turn to someone and tell them what’s going on. Choose someone you trust and feel comfortable talking to. Let this person be your support and be there for you, or give you guidance or help to get you out of your situation. This builds your hope and gives you that sense of relief that someone stronger than you is helping you fight the battle you don’t feel you have the strength to fight.
- Empower the women around you. Make the women in your life feel special, make them feel important and valued. Recognise their contributions, recognise their abilities and constantly tell them how wonderful they are. I cannot begin to tell you just how much this can change a woman’s life. How much you empower someone by doing this. By doing this, you give them strength and hope and makes them feel good about themselves, that they are worth something and it makes them feel valued.
- Speak out. Let’s start speaking up more about the way we feel. You do not need to attack or be offensive. When you speak from the heart and speak your truth, the truth sets you free. It’s not easy standing up for yourself because we always think we are alone but we aren’t.
Ladies, I hate to say it but it’s up to you. You are the closest to your children. Change begins with you. The way you allow yourself to be treated in the home, is how your children will treat others. If you accept crude and condescending jokes about women around the braai/BBQ, then don’t expect any less of your children. I can go on but I’m not going to. Actions speak louder than words and if we want to see change in how you or any other women are being treated then you need to begin that change.