Wanted: better role models

Published 7:24 am Thursday, February 21, 2013

Women’s History Month is just around the corner. And being of many in a now female dominated Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald office, I think it’s about time I do my duty and step up on to the old feminism soapbox.

When I was a teenager my mom took me to Seneca Falls, NY, home of the first Women’s Rights Convention held in 1848.  We spent the whole day learning about women’s history and the suffragettes involved with the women’s movement like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and, of course, Susan B. Anthony.

It was a life lesson for me, to actually stand in a place where thoughts were shared and action was taken to right one of the many wrongs that have happened in this world.

Life in the 19th century was a lot worse for women. They couldn’t vote, attend universities, hold an elective office, earn an income, own property, divorce their husband and the most frightening of all; they didn’t have rights to their children.

All of those listed above are rights women now days take for granted. Back then women were fighting to not only obtain those rights, but receive respect from their male counterparts.

Now days it seems we’ve earned that respect, but have some how lost the respect for ourselves along the way.

Degrading and unreal images of women are splattered all over the media, implanting a likeness in young girls’ heads that they have to be what they see.

No woman is immune to the body image issue.

We are the soul of the fashion industry as we buy into the latest trends and designers.

It’s a market we’ve come to own and you’d think women would be able to wrangle it in some how.

Wanting to present yourself as best as you possibly can is not a crime, but when we start to lose the control of what images, especially extreme images, are placed in the media is when it crosses the line.

There is a serious problem with whom young girls choose as their role models now days. Albeit because of mothers not spending time with their children or it’s just the nature of the American society.

Instead of choosing women that are around them to look up to, they turn to the colorful pages of a magazine or what they watch on television.

As an alternative the young girls look upon popular actresses, pop stars and models for guidance. Some of which should not be considered role models at all.

Over the years feminism has split into several sub types. These cracks in the foundation of feminism actually started in the 19th century with the suffragettes.

While most of them were Christian housewives pushing for basic rights, the rumbles of “radical feminism” were starting to be heard.

Of course, back then, wanting to wear pants instead of cumbersome skirts was considered radical.

In the 1960s, after the oppressive 1950s, many liberal feminists adopted radicalism as the Women’s Movement and Civil Rights Movement began to pick up speed.

Now it seems what kind of feminist you are depends on your politics and personal beliefs.

No matter the differences, the fact that the younger generation of women in this country are on the verge of destroying their own self-worth is a daunting reality.

It’s a subject that all feminists, minus a few Hollywood ones, can agree on.

The shoe is on our runway and why the images our children and society consume have not been changed is completely baffling to me.

Perhaps it needs to start at home.

If a woman is interested in teaching her daughter what it truly means to be a woman, she’ll keep those negative influences at bay and do the job herself.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: amanda.vanderbroek@r-cnews.com or call (252) 332-7209.