Feminist Films Before the 1960s


We often assume that feminism didn’t really take off until the 1960s and before that time, women basically were portrayed as happy housewives, submissive damsels in distress, innocent ingenues or evil women who led their men astray. These are the basic images of women in old movies that tend to come to our mind as well as the notion that gender roles were observed without question before the 1960s. However, these notions are dead wrong since feminism has always been apparent throughout history and there have been people who’ve questioned the notion of gender roles for centuries. Old Hollywood is no exception for many old movies have a great treasure trove of strong female characters as well as featured movies which challenged notions of gender roles and relationships between men and women. Here’s a short list of what I considered to be old movies that even a feminist would approve of:

1. Gone with the Wind

You wouldn’t think I’d put this movie on here since fans tend to watch it for the romance between Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler while critics and detractors would cite the historical inaccuracy, negative racial stereotypes, lack of good male characters, complain that it’s four hours long, or dismiss it as a mere chick flick. Some may not think that Gone with the Wind isn’t a feminist movie since it won a bunch of Oscars, holds the distinction of highest grossing movie of all time, was made in the 1930s, and is regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. Surely a movie with these distinctions and flaws can’t be feminist. Well, that’s where you’re wrong since I would very much regard this movie as a highly feminist film as well as a one of the most ground breaking movies for women. For one, this is a film about the experiences of women in the South during the American Civil War and the early years of Reconstruction and how such events affected their lives. It depicts women playing a role in history at a time when professional historians seldom wrote about women or before the concept of women’s studies even existed. Not only that, but it also shows how the American Civil War was also a woman’s war as much as a man’s whether it be on the home front or on the front lines. And this is back in 1939. Second, it features a strong and well developed female protagonist in Scarlett O’Hara who isn’t entirely a saint but certainly no damsel in distress. Not to mention, she eventually challenges the conventional notions of how a women should act at the time and does morally dubious things, isn’t universally liked, is very much a realistic character for her time, and is actually a strong female character feminists would approve of (even a lot of today’s action girls don’t amount to her rich characterization). I mean despite that she’s selfish, amoral, immature, materialistic, she’s very intelligent and later emerges as a strong and driven young woman ever determined to do what she can to avoid starvation or being a burden to others. Of course, this movie was based on the book by Margaret Mitchell, yet nevertheless, Gone with the Wind is a great feminist film which shows that a movie which features women’s experiences as well as a strong female protagonist with moral ambiguities could break records at the box office, win 8 Academy Awards, and be well regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. Of course, it’s not 100% relevant, but it’s still a timeless classic that holds up in so many ways. If there is a feminist film before 1960 which deserves a spot on this list, then Gone with the Wind is the gold standard.

2. Peyton Place

I place this film on this list since it portrays almost every character as three-dimensional entities who don’t necessarily come off as entirely unsympathetic (with the exception of Lucas Cross but I’ll get to him later). Yet, whatever their flaws, viewers are encouraged not to judge these people no matter but only to understand them as people. It’s also noteworthy to point out of how certain female characters don’t seem to conform to your 1950s standards. For instance, Allison Mackenzie puts her deceased father on a pedestal, mostly finds herself on the receiving end of her mother’s insecurities, and has a lifelong aspiration to be a writer. Her mother Constance (played by Lana Turner) is has managed to succeed both as a mother and businesswoman but can’t really leave her secret past behind which proves detrimental in her relationships with her daughter and new boyfriend Michael Rossi, the new high school principal. Allison’s best friend, Selena Cross is seen as a good girl whose stepfather Lucas makes her life at home the closest thing to hell on earth. Her motivation in the film is to achieve financial independence so she and her brother could escape from their godforsaken home. She’s an interesting case since she’s still seen as a sympathetic character despite having an abortion and later committing murder. Of course, Lucas raped her so who could blame her for killing him but she barely gets off (since the doctor almost didn’t testify). Then we have Betty Anderson who likes dress in sexy clothes, drink alcohol, behave in scandalous ways, and is much more forthcoming about her sexuality but still genuinely loves her boyfriend and does make peace with his father. Peyton Place is also a relevant film which condemns sexual abuse for how should be depicted as well as make Selena’s abortion and murder seem justified. The film always shows Lucas’ conduct to Selena as unwanted and never holds her responsible for Lucas’ actions.

3. I Was a Male War Bride

I put this film on the list since it’s one that specifically addresses sexism with a very interesting twist. Still, unlike most of the movies I have on this list, this one features a male protagonist played by Cary Grant. However, I included this movie on here because it addresses how sexism can negatively affect men. Set in Europe right after World War II, this movie is about a French officer who marries an American servicewoman and decides to spend his married life in the States. However, what him and Ann Sheridan have to go through is a bureaucratic nightmare through the War Brides Act, which is seen clearly as sexist US government policy. To the US only the men took foreign spouses and the military and red tape stacked against American servicewomen marrying men from another country. Of course, being an American servicewoman, it’s Ann Sheridan who’s being discriminated against on account of her sex. However, it’s Cary Grant who has to suffer for it firsthand since he has to endlessly explain that he’s married to an American soldier and entitled to shelter and transportation in a system that doesn’t recognize his gender as compatible with his situation. For one, Grant has to pass as a war bride in order to go back to the United States with his wife since all the spousal regulations seem to be for brides. Of course, he puts through a lot of shit and humiliation being a “war bride” such as having to fill out a form reserved for women, spending most of a night looking for a place to sleep, and having to board a boat in drag. On a further note, this is loosely based on a true story so there probably were a few “war brides” who just happened to be dudes. And they probably had to go through similar shit. Of course, while there may be plenty of movies that address men defying traditional gender roles, I Was a Male War Bride is one of few films that promotes the issue of feminism to a male audience.

4. Mildred Pierce

Of course, I had to include this Oscar-winning film since it’s one of early movies that centers around a successful self-made woman and single mother who despite her hard work and efforts to please her daughter, still gets no respect. It’s a very bleak look at what women can expect if they live and work alone in a man’s world, beset by men who want to exploit them, sexually or otherwise. She starts as an ordinary housewife driven to working as a waitress after her unemployed husband takes off and later starts her own restaurant and chain. Mildred Pierce is a woman is both a victim of circumstance as well as herself as well as a strong female protagonist with real flaws and assets. She is a hard worker with good business sense as well as a devoted mother. Of course, being a devoted mother to Veda is her biggest flaw, not due to bad parenting (she ain’t perfect), but how Veda is just one of the most ungrateful brats in movie history. Still, though she may be a woman in a man’s world, she’s still someone we sympathize with and want to succeed since she kind of reminds women of themselves in many ways. Not only that, but as a businesswoman, she becomes a victim to the same mistakes as any man would. Of course, Mildred met her downfall, but at least she made it to the top despite great odds.

5. A Letter to Three Wives

This is perhaps one of the most relevant films for women since it pertains to an issue that all women face, which is the struggle for perfection. Yet, it also tells women that they don’t have to be superwomen in order to be loved and appreciated by the men in their lives. All three women protagonists are each imperfect in their own way and have very imperfect lives and marriages. All three somehow feel inadequate when compared to their “friend” Addie Ross who their husbands see as a goddess and is probably the closest thing to a superwoman in her time, though she really is a complete bitch. Not to mention, all three think that the the strain on their marriages is their fault. And adding insult to injury, she sends them a letter telling these three women that she ran off with one of their husbands. It’s also interesting to note these women lead very different lives from one another, struggle with very different issues, and are portrayed in non-stereotypical fashion. You got Jeanne Crain who left the farm to serve her country only to come back having a difficult time adjusting to her husband’s world which is so different than the one she left behind. She sees herself as hick who wears cheap mail order clothes worrying that she wouldn’t be able to impress her upper class husband’s friends with her man being completely blind to what she’s dealing with. Ann Sothern is a working mother and breadwinner whose schoolteacher husband (Kirk Douglas) isn’t much thrilled with. It’s not just that she’s earning more money than he is but that she’s earning a living writing for a radio soap opera and how her job interferes with their lives. However, Kirk Douglas knows full well and accepts his situation since Sothern is just as smart as he is and that her status as a breadwinner allows him to have the career he wants without having to worry about the bills. Yet, Sothern doesn’t seem to know what Douglas wants from her. Then we have Linda Darnell who’s from the wrong side of the tracks and sees herself as a gold digger who married her boss just to escape her working class light. But Darnell and Paul Douglas’ marriage gives the two of them exactly what they need. Yet, she wonders whether she’d miss her husband if he was gone. Of course, the ending is rather ambiguous but  we can be sure that at least Sothern and Darnell have husbands who surely care for them despite their own flaws and that whether Crain’s husband left her or not, she’s willing to survive without him and at least has friends.

6. Adam’s Rib

Of course, this is another comedy which is said to feature a battle of the sexes between Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Yet, unlike most movies that feature a battle of the sexes, this one doesn’t insult the intelligence and rationality of either party. And in some respects Hepburn and Tracy both make valid points about sexism and treatment of those in the criminal justice system, particularly when a crime of passion is involved. Of course, Hepburn is the feminist who thinks men and women are equal, notes the double standard that exists for women and men regarding adultery, and humiliates Tracy in court in order to prove that he’s not immune to sexism as any man. Of course, Hepburn may have her sympathies with Judy Holliday who’s accused of shooting her asshole husband after catching him having an affair, but she knows it since she’s also a woman and sees why her client would snap. Furthermore, she’s very aware on how women were treated by society at the time and strives to make sure her client gets as fair a treatment as any man would in her place. On the other hand, though Hepburn is right to acknowledge sexism, this doesn’t mean that Tracy is completely in the wrong. Rather, though Tracy may have his own biases, he’s certainly no male chauvinist pig nor does he have anything against women, but quite the contrary. Actually, he’s a more progressive man for his time who’s perfectly fine with his wife’s force and ambition. He’s just not happy about her using the case for her own selfish purposes. To him, Judy Holliday’s gender and situation are practically irrelevant is as far as his job as a prosecutor goes. In Tracy’s eyes, Judy Holliday is guilty of attempted murder and showed disregard for the law as there should never be an excuse for such behavior regardless of gender. If Judy Holliday had been a man, it would be very clear that Tracy would’ve judged her no differently. Unfortunately for Tracy, though he may be on the side of the law and have no special affection for Holliday’s husband, he’s nevertheless working in his interests. And we’re very much instructed to sympathize with Judy Holliday since her husband is a man with no redeemable qualities and should never have custody of the kids.

7. All About Eve

Of course, this film may have it’s flaws but it’s an essential feminist film nonetheless because it shows the sexual bias and the entertainment industry and how such makes women become rivals instead of friends. Of course, it says that a woman isn’t complete without her man, but so did many Hollywood films at the time. Still, Margo Channing is an aging actress who plays roles of younger women and is insecure about growing older and settling down with her boyfriend Bill Sampson. She sees newcomer Eve Harrington as a threat to her career and goes through a diva meltdown which is dismissed as an overreaction until Eve tries to seduce Bill. However, the reality is that though aging, Margo is a highly talented actress at the height of her career as well as a star with legendary status who’s probably in a more secure position than many of her peers. Not to mention, she’s still very pretty and is dating a man who’s eight years younger than her who loves and respects her for who she is. However, Margo’s flaw is that she views her career as the most important thing in her life and knows all too well that her line of work where aging can be career killer. Yet, though Eve Harrington is a genuine threat, it’s age that triumphs over youth in this one and in some ways is a better female role model because of it. Margo may be a bitch but sometimes her whining can be seen as perfectly justified. Even though Margo learns to accept getting older, settles down with Bill, and decides not to play younger women, she loses nothing letting Eve play Cora and become a star. Sure Eve Harrington may be young, pretty, and talented, but she’s a sociopath who will do whatever it takes to get whatever she wants. And she manages to fool almost everyone in the cast except Birdie and Addison. Margo is a woman of integrity with supportive and sincere friends and has some genuine humanity in her. Eve is just a cold and manipulative bitch willing to use people as tools and cares only for herself. And since Margo’s willing to accept the direction of her career and start having a life outside of the theater, she survives Eve Harrington as well as many of the young actresses who come after her. Eve submits to critic Addison DeWitt, selling her soul to all her fans and the media since she has nothing but her career.

8. The Barefoot Contessa

This is more of a cautionary tale pertaining to the objectification of women and the price they pay for it. The film unfolds as a fairy tale turned tragedy as we see Ava Gardner as a person like Humphrey Bogart does, but is viewed by the rest of the male cast as an object to be exploited for their benefit without any account for her whether it be by looks, talent, status, or what not. In some way, this is what objectification really is and Ava Gardner ultimately suffers for it. Ava Gardner is a woman who is smart as she is beautiful whose main motivation is to enjoy the challenge and escape that a Hollywood career might offer a woman who will nevertheless value the simpler things in life. However, she’s also a woman who’s known to have sex with multiple men (known as her “cousins”) and has a mind of her own. And in every fairy tale there has to be a Prince Charming as in the Count Favrini or so Gardner assumes he is. Yet, once she marries him, you realize he’s just willing to use her as much as most of the other male characters. But in this case, it’s because she’s a glamorous celebrity whose marriage to her will work in his plans to bring his family to a memorable end. And it doesn’t end well for Gardner.

9. Roman Holiday

Of course, this is a romantic comedy, but it’s one that encourages women to do what’s best for themselves for a change. Of course, the man who’s stifling Audrey Hepburn’s life in the beginning isn’t a romantic interest but her dad who’s a king, which makes her a princess. And as a princess, she has royal duties which consists of going on diplomatic trips as well as having her schedule filled with PR activities all day long. Soon all the stress catches up with Hepburn that she takes off in the middle of the night and spends the next day doing whatever she wants such as living a day without her crushing responsibilities. And she does this only to the benefit of herself. Of course, Hepburn eventually has to return to her life as a princess but she does as a more assertive young woman who’s willing to accommodate her own needs alongside her duties and more able to think for herself.

10. Now, Voyager

Kind of has a similar message to Roman Holiday yet, Charlotte Vale’s path to empowerment and learning to think for herself doesn’t completely solve her problems. However, the domineering force in her life is her emotionally abusive mother who tried to control her all her life and lets her know that she is unwanted and unloved. Not to mention, Mrs. Vale doesn’t want her daughter to have much of a life either and does all the decision making for her. That is until Charlotte suffers a nervous breakdown and is confined to a sanitarium and later emerges out of her shell, goes on a cruise where she meet the unhappily married Jerry, and falls in love with him. Though adulterous, their relationship would have a positive impact on both their lives. When she returns, she confronts her mother and finds that she’s no longer scared of living for herself. After her mother dies, Charlotte returns to the sanitarium where she becomes a surrogate mother to Jerry’s daughter Tina. Also, unlike many women in old movies, Charlotte is perfectly all right to live without a man, doesn’t need to settle down for just anyone, and is willing to be happy with what she has, which is a lot but still.

11. Giant

Of course, this doesn’t start out as a feminist film since it begins with Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor’s whirlwind courtship and marriage. However, once they start their married life in Texas, Taylor starts turning Hudson’s world upside down. For one, she treats the  Mexican workers on Reata as human beings, doesn’t see anything unfeminine with discussing politics, and has no qualms about defying tradition. Still, I think what makes this movie as a feminist film is how it depicts femininity. This is expressed through Elizabeth Taylor  in relation to Mercedes McCambridge. Taylor is perfectly comfortable with being a woman and isn’t ashamed of her femininity. Yet, she’s still a strong woman who isn’t afraid to do what she thinks is right or speak her mind whenever she feels like it. She may be a woman but she’s also her own person and refuses to conform to her gender’s expectations. In the end, her life with Hudson helps change him into a better man though it takes a long time. On the other hand, McCambridge sees her femininity as something to be ashamed of and denies it in order to be one of the boys in order to feel dominant. She’s a misogynist and hates Taylor with an instant passion. She is butch and violent and thinks that only these two traits can be a show of strength. Of course, her harshness and violent demeanor are what causes her downfall after falling off Taylor’s horse that she treated so badly. In some ways, these two women show the difference between being a strong female character and being a female character just acting macho.

12. The Three Faces of Eve

This is a film that depicts a woman with multiple personalities superbly played by Joanne Woodward (best known for her marriage to Paul Newman) who received an Oscar for her performance that year. Of course, the afflicted woman is a quiet, mousy, and unassuming housewife named Eve White who suffers from headaches and occasional blackouts, from which emerges the wild party girl Eve Black. However, though Eve had this problem since childhood, this mental illness persists as a way for her to act out in an unhappy marriage with a man who doesn’t understand her condition nor cares to. In many respects, he’s an abusive jerk who later dumps her and later abandons their daughter. And Eve begins to recover as a third personality of the stable Jane emerges who gathers strength once Eve starts living as a single woman. In some ways, Eve’s personality disorder fed off of her unhappiness in a life she was reluctant to leave. Yet, when she does, Jane becomes stronger since she’s the most healthy personality as two Eves decline and starts leading a new life better than the one she left. May not be a feminist film, but it works out like one as far as I’m concerned.

13. Pinky

I know this one is the least known movies on the list about a black girl who can pass for white but don’t ask why she’s played by white girl Jeanne Crain. Then again, the Jeanne Crain portrayal makes sense. Anyway, she comes home from nursing school with a white boyfriend who she’s all set to marry and start a new life with him in Colorado. However, her grandmother isn’t too happy and asks her to take care of former boss Ethel Barrymore who’s on her deathbed. Crain reluctantly abides but thinks Barrymore is an unpleasant old woman to work for. Yet, when she dies, Crain finds out that this woman left everything to her in order that her estate would serve as a black clinic and nursing school (this is in the South during segregation). And when Barrymore’s will becomes contested by family members, she decides to fight and wins. May seem like a career vs. man story but is far more complex since the issue of race in involved. For Crain, marriage not only means being with the man of her dreams yet this would mean she’d have to live as a white woman for the rest of her life. Yet, she chooses to risk her relationship so she can fulfill the old lady’s wishes and help her community as well as brave the rampant climate of racism. It may not be the easiest choice to make but it was one that would make Crain a much happier woman because of it. And in a time when women were being encouraged to be happy homemakers, this movie is a breath of fresh air.

Why Modesty Doesn’t Prevent Being Objectified

As a young woman, I’m thoroughly aware that people are going to notice me by the way I dress as well as be told how I should dress in public in order to divert unwanted attention from the opposite sex whose lustful feelings I may entice which might put me in a terrible situation. Still, I’m also aware of the way the media objectifies women in the way that is unhealthy for young girls which I highly object to. Sure I’m aware how the media tells girls that wearing scantily outfits makes them look attractive but I know that the media’s agenda is to make money but portraying women in the media is an entirely different story. Besides, I never really follow fashion trends nor place my appearance as a high priority, at least not above my brains, health, or personality. I may want people to respect me but I want them to do so because I’m a human being regardless what I wear or how I look in public. However, though I think the way women are shown in the media is a great concern, many of these conservative groups blame the 1960s as to why we keep showing women as objects and so provocatively as well. Not to mention, they tell girls that if they cover up, people will respect them and they will not draw unwanted attention from guys who want nothing to do with them. Yet, though modesty does have a place in society, it’s not going to prevent women and girls being objectified which is the result of some bigger problem of society as a whole which has roots way before 1960s ever swept the world.

1. Objectification of women has been prevalent throughout history-When conservatives talk about the objectification of women, they usually use the 1960s as a starting point since that the era of the Sexual Revolution, feminism, rock n’ roll, and the miniskirt. However, like most aspects of life during the 1960s, objectification of women didn’t start in the 1960s, it was just the time when people noticed the trend and saw it as problematic.  Even so, while many people link objectification of women as an unfortunate side affect of women’s liberation, it is not and never has. Namely the reason why we start seeing this is that people in the media just used feminism and the Sexual Revolution as an excuse to depict women as more scantily clad and sexual in ways they couldn’t do otherwise. And this was all for money since sex has always sold and many guys thought that portraying women this way would make them look like they were supporting female empowerment when in fact, they weren’t. Also note that the people behind these kind of ideas were men. Feminism doesn’t just mean women having sexual freedom, but also freedom to be treated as human beings to the same degree as men are, despite their flaws or other unlikeable qualities. Still, the notion of depicting women as objects while prevalent as ever today didn’t start with feminism, but rather is a notion as old as perhaps civilization itself, maybe even earlier than that. Throughout history, women have not only been treated as objects to be bought and sold but also used to fulfill men’s needs. In stories they were seen as prizes to be won, as ornaments to be adorned, as idols to be worshiped, and even as decoration to entice people to buy some sort of product. Yes, women have been objectified throughout history, always being told to concentrate on their looks in order to be attractive as well as respectable and be good to their loved ones unconditionally, while their voices, needs, and desires don’t matter. And what these women wore didn’t make any difference since being objectified doesn’t require a person to be scantily clad. Still, there were also plenty of people who spoke out on it then as well, including women.

2. Appearance doesn’t always affect chances of getting attention- Sure it’s a given that everyone is going to judge a person by their appearance, especially a woman. And it’s also a given that we will all draw unwanted attention to ourselves in one way or another, sometimes based on what we wear, but most of the time not. Sometimes a woman would receive unwanted attention because guys simply find her attractive or whatever. Sure she may turn men’s heads while prancing around in a miniskirt but she’s just as likely to do the same in sweatpants but while some may get distracted, most of them probably won’t go any further than ogle or mildly harass her until she’s out of their sight or at least try to concentrate on what they’re doing. Some men may think about asking her out but  few would ever think of actually doing anything to her that she didn’t want. If any of those guys did try to harass or assault her, then it’s their fault not hers. Some people think that women’s clothing choices are dependent on the chances of receiving unwanted attention, while in reality, there’s no correlation between the two whatsoever. To say so is an insult to men as well since they are said to be unable to control their sexual urges as well as an insult to say that women are responsible for them and must cover up to protect themselves. If that notion was true then the Middle East would have a low rate of rape incidents and marital fidelity would be almost nonexistent. Men certainly can control their sexual urges and do so all the time regardless of how women dress or behave themselves. The prevalence of many happily marriages serve as living proof that men can be responsible for their sexual behavior and certainly do say no and not because of impotence either. The reason why some men say they can’t because they don’t want to take responsibility, just don’t want to resist the temptation, or want to have their way regardless of what the other person says. Still, because there are men who don’t want to take responsibility for their sexual behavior, it’s women who get blamed for tempting them even though they had no desire to draw that kind of attention as well as repeatedly said no. Still, that doesn’t stop other men from blaming women for their own rapes and use any excuse to try to justify why she’s responsible such as dressing provocatively, being a slut, or being drunk which they say is sort of “asking for it.” However, regardless of how slutty a woman may appear, if she was asking for it, she wouldn’t be raped and therefore, isn’t responsible for the rape itself.

However, a woman doesn’t always have to be attractive to attract unwanted attention, sexual or otherwise. For one, not every man has the same criteria of beauty standards and might find one woman attractive that others may find disgusting. Second, you may have women being harassed and gawked at for simply being ugly or wearing something that’s utterly ridiculous. Then in some areas a woman might receive unwanted attention just for simply being one in an area where there are mostly men, like in North Dakota.

3. Modesty standards are defined by culture and vary through history- Whenever conservatives use the term “modesty” it’s usually by their standards whether they be in the US or anywhere else in the world. And modesty standards will always be dictated according to culture and customs. What may be inappropriate in one culture might be perfectly fine in another. For instance, many conservative groups may not think women should wear a bikini in this country, an African Bushman may see a woman with her bikini on as way overdressed. And of course, a woman in a Christmas sweater and pajama bottoms would look too much like a slut, according to the Taliban who wish their women wear burqas. At another time in history, anyone within means would cause a scandal if they went around in public dressed in something comfortable and weather permitting in the Western world (if you ever go tour the Confederate White House in Richmond during the summer, you’ll see why). Every culture has a different standards on what’s decent and what’s not and can be subject to change depending on climate, economy, social norms, religion in some cases, or other factors. Significant events in history can also alter our perception of decency standards like wars, social movements, and aesthetic trends.

4. Modesty only enforces the importance of appearance- Since objectification of women is rather dependent on a woman’s looks modesty doesn’t at all prevent a woman from being seen as an object since it only reinforces the notion of women being judged by their outward personal appearance, which is no help to make women more human or develop a healthy body image. And for the longest time, society has always taught women that their appearance is important which has made many women and girls insecure about their body image. Still, modesty isn’t necessarily a bad thing nor is lecturing about the importance of one’s own appearance either. I fully understand that appearances are important when living in society and that people should always try to look respectable. We can all agree that no one wants to see anyone out in public in their birthday suit and that there’s nothing wrong with store owners putting signs out  that read “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service.” Public nudity is always a distraction no matter what the person looks like or what feelings he or she projects on other people, everyone is going to assume that the nudist is a freak if he or she’s old enough to know better. Not to mention, public nudity is illegal in most areas so any nudist showing his tallywhacker will surely be arrested for indecent exposure. This is where modesty standards are okay since a taboo against public nudity is applied to everyone in which their only expectation is that they at least cover their privates in a public setting.

However, modesty can be used in harmful ways, especially when it’s unfairly applied and contributes to a negative body image or personal shame. And women have been the brunt of this kind of negative appearance reinforcement since modesty has not only been used to control them but also to judge them by their appearance as well. And the more people judge women on their appearance the more they tend to see them as objects and treat them that  way as well. Not to mention, it doesn’t help that countless women have been taught to value their physical appearance above all their personal attributes as well as that their looks are key to their success in life. Modesty may teach people to judge others by the way they dress, but it can also judge people by the way they look as well and not always fairly. For instance, a woman in a skimpy outfit would be seen as slutty but while an attractive woman in the same clothes would come off as distracting to the guys in the room, a woman who’s not so attractive, overweight, and/or over the age of 40 would be judged as disgusting wearing the same thing. Being seen as distracting to others because of your outfit may not be a good thing or cultivate a healthy body image as well as contribute to some degree of humiliation, but to some girls being criticized for wearing a skimpy outfit might be a compliment to them since it might give them an affirmation that they’re attractive. Being seen as ugly and disgusting, on the other hand, is hurtful for a woman to hear and further encourages her to develop a negative body image which could lead to further problems. Covering up because of oogling eyes is one thing, covering up because there’s something unsightly about your body is another. If we want to encourage people not to treat women as objects, we need to humanize them and see them as people first, not tell them to cover up when they’re in a skimpy outfit.

5. Objectification comes in many forms and is not always sexual- When we talk about objectification, we talk about women being seen and used as sexual objects for men’s wishes and needs, we also don’t talk about how else we treat people as objects to do what we ask them while placing very little value on them as human beings. For instance, slavery is a classic example of people being treated as less than human since slaves were forced to work each and every day with little benefit to themselves and were seen as easily disposable as well as had to do whatever their bosses wanted since he or she owned them. Paid labor has also suffered from this kind of objectification as well, especially in the days when people had to work twelve hour days six days a week while getting very little for it in return for bosses who had no regard for their well being. Things might have changed since then but even in this country we still have people being exploited by their work places whenever the upper management can get away with it, particularly in places that prohibit their workers from forming a union (which I think is unconstitutional) but still treats them as if they were a commodity which will work cheaply because he or she can’t get it anywhere else and can be disposed at will. This is increasingly evident in today’s economy where benefits are being cut and layoffs are just a fact of life. People may not always like unions but even so, unions serve a purpose in society by making employers see workers as human beings whose contribution to the economy should be recognized and valued since they are just as responsible for a company’s profits as the CEO. Business and politics tend to have habits of using people as pawns all for the money and power, but that’s another story.