She’s not like other girls. She’s an ethereal, fun-loving, free-spirited, and wide-eyed Zooey Deschanel-esque creature. She laughs when there is no joke, and dances when there is no music. She talks about sea horses and stars, but doesn’t know what a football is. She capitalizes the letters in the middle of words. She plays the ukulele. She has a bizarre name like “Alaska” or “Stargirl” that she chose for herself.
But of course, she’s also almost always white, thin, able-bodied, heterosexual, and conventionally beautiful—therefore making her strange behaviors seem “quirky” and “cute” rather than off-putting and disturbing. She’s every single girl in a John Green novel. She is a girl who “loved mysteries so much that she became one.” She “embodies the Great Perhaps.” She is the “faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl.” She is “bendable light.”
We all know a bitcoin bro. Also called the tech bro or the brogrammer, they can be found trading bitcoin, or some other form of cryptocurrency, and providing regular—and often unsolicited—updates on how much money they’re making. They write long-winded Facebook statuses on entrepreneurship, the power of positivity, and motivation. They idolize Elon Musk, share countless posts about SpaceX, and drool over the prospect of colonizing Mars one day. They love virtual reality, augmented reality, any reality where the Scarlett Johansson-voiced artificial intelligence from “Her” is real. They are constantly forming startups that seek to “disrupt” an industry, or that seek to be “like Uber, but for [groceries/toothbrushes/lint rollers].”
And these are almost always men, working with colleagues or co-founders who are also men, who all pride themselves on being bros who just want to “bro down and crush some code.” Being a bitcoin bro isn’t just defined by your occupation or hobby; it’s a lifestyle, an image, an aesthetic. And this aesthetic is overwhelmingly characterized by a desire to exclude women. Beneath their inspirational TEDtalks and their grand ideas of creating a better future for humanity lies a deep-rooted disdain for women and subconscious belief in male superiority.
What exactly makes a woman “wife material”—someone who is worthy of a man’s lifelong love and commitment? This topic recently came up in a Facebook group of which I’m a member. A woman who was talking to a man she met online posed this question to the group of fellow women: Even though she was extremely sexually attracted to him, should she abstain from having sex with him in order to show that she’s worthy of being his girlfriend, or perhaps even his wife one day?
Many women jumped to answer her question, advising her to wait anywhere from three dates to “as long as you can.” These answers are not unfamiliar to me. Growing up, I had received similar advice from television shows, magazines, and even other women. I was told to wait three dates—or better, five, or even better, eight—before having sex with a man. I was told to make him wait as long as you can, because if you have sex with him too soon, he will lose all respect for you. After all, “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”
We talk a lot about female objectification in the media—how women are constantly sexualized, objectified, and used as nothing more than aesthetically pleasing and sexually arousing props in advertisements, music videos, and movies. The dehumanizing effects of this imagery have been well-documented, with extensive research demonstrating that objectification leads to depression, anxiety, body shame, sexual dysfunction, and eating disorders among women.
Objectification of women’s bodies, however, is nothing new. Throughout history, much of visual art has been about appreciating female beauty and the female form. Less than 4 percent of the artists in the Modern Art section of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are women, but 76 percent of the nudes are female. From the Venus de Milo to the Mona Lisa, women are overwhelmingly the objects, not the subjects, of art. Imagery is catered to the male gaze. Women are not meant to do the looking; they are meant to be looked at.
I don’t keep up with the Kardashians. But millions of people around the world do. Whether you like it or not, what the Kardashians say and do leaves an imprint on our society, and shapes our cultural consciousness.
On Wednesday, July 5, Rob Kardashian posted a series of extremely disturbing photos on his personal Instagram page. He posted naked photos of his ex-girlfriend, Blac Chyna, and accused her of cheating on him. It took Instagram 20 minutes to take down the explicit photos. By that time, it was too late. The whole world had seen.