Putting the “WO”es in Women

Allegations of unwanted sexual advances from various individuals against the US President Donald Trump, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, television executive Roger Ailes, political commentator Bill O’Reilly, producer Brett Ratner, actor Kevin Spacey, publisher Knight Landesman, director James Toback and many others have sparked a nationwide “ #metoo ” movement and have reminded us the reality of the ongoing oppression of women. Although the media and entertainment have come under scrutiny recently, sexual abuse and harassment are not limited to them or other social platforms in its existence. Unwanted sexual advancement is widespread where no profession, country, or religion is exempt. Its victims include people from all walks of life: maids, servants, and laborers to engineers, lawyers, and doctors. It does not matter what clothes they wear.  In particular, women are not safe from unwanted advancement, public or private: workplace, home, malls, supermarkets, and theaters. The lack of attention, by the male and female population, to the treatment of women is alarming. It is time to globally define the unwanted sexual advancement and criminalize it.
For working women, under no circumstances, should they feel that such unwarranted approaches “are the way it is”, “get used to it”, or “a necessity to climb the corporate ladder”.
Harassing, assaulting, and raping women are globally so common that we have become both consciously and unconsciously insensitive to them, so they get little attention. Historically, women have been subordinated by society, manipulated in power struggles, and used for sexual satisfaction. In conflicts, they are soft targets, assaulted and raped to punish challengers or force them to submit. We must strive toward a world where even fully undressed women would not be subject to any unwanted sexual advancement.   
In advertising, it is common, as far back as the 1950’s and even earlier, that women were projected as only good for sex or homemaking. The ads were often racy, implying sexual innuendos or her dream to clean. Present day, women are still very much used in advertising the same way. This way of thinking is embedded in the media and portrayal of women and has only been projected and manipulated further from there. It goes deeper in movies and the film industry as well. It is widely known that watching movies affects our hobbies, career choices, relationships, and mental status. An example is BMW reportedly paid a few million dollars to the James Bond franchise in 1995 for James Bond to drive BMW, which made the company over $200 million in revenues.
In the movies and the films, most roles where women bare all, are not adding character value to the role or movie itself. Often, female roles are subjected to nudity and sexuality alone. In more recent films and media trending, we see films trying to re-popularize the idea of a submissive woman. This is a very dangerous idea to promote for women, because while Hollywood may romanticize it, the harsh reality is that many of the submissive portrayals of women in film are much closer to abuse than anything romantic or loving at all. By romanticizing ideas of this culture and others in film, i.e. making adultery/infidelity and violence common place, society slowly becomes numb to the reality and cruelty truly associated with some of these actions. It influences men to be more aggressive towards women and women to be more submissive. Men and women should redefine what is acceptable based on the standards they perceive as normal.
So why are we letting this become the norm?
Most importantly, education is the best answer. Children at an early age should be taught ethics that include respecting themselves and others. They should be informed and feel safe as to what constitutes unwanted advancement, verbal or physical. Nevertheless, unwanted sexual advancement must be criminalized.
Dr. Mehdi Alavi, President
Peace Worldwide Organization

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