Feeds:
Entradas
Comentarios

Archive for the ‘Feminismo’ Category

Miss America

El periodo que transcurre entre los años 1960 y 1969 es uno de los más complejos en la historia estadounidense. Durante esos años, los Estados Unidos se embarcaron en una serie de procesos sociales, políticos y culturales que transformaron a la sociedad norteamericana. Los afro-americanos exigieron la igualdad social y política, los jóvenes se rebelaron contra las normas sociales, emergió una contracultura crítica del conformismo y de la sociedad de consumo, los homosexuales se organizaron en defensa de sus derechos, y los latinos y amerindios cuestionaron la marginación de que eran objeto.

PCOSW

La Presidential Commission on the Status of Women estaba presidida por Eleonor Roosevelt

Las mujeres se unieron a la ola de insatisfacción social que caracterizó a la década de 1960, reviviendo así el movimiento feminista.  Varios factores abonaron a ese renacer. Primero, en 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy  nombró una comisión presidencial para que estudiase la situación de las mujeres en los Estados Unidos. En su informe, la Presidential Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), documentó que las mujeres enfrentaban las mismas injusticias que las minorías raciales. Las estadounidenses recibían una paga inferior que la de los hombre por tareas y trabajos similares, y tenían menos oportunidad de acceder a carrera profesional o gerencial. Según la comisión, sólo el 7% de los médicos eran mujeres y menos del 4% eran abogados. Los miembros de la Comisión sugirieron, con éxito, que la Ley de Derechos Civiles de 1964 prohibiera la discriminación por género. A pesar de ello, la Comisión de Igualdad en la Oportunidad en el Empleo se mostró reacia a hacer respetar la prohibición de la discriminación por sexo, lo que provocó que un grupo de mujeres fundaran, en 1966, la National Organization for Woman (NOW).  Esta agrupación buscaba cambiar la situación de las féminas a través de la presión en grupo, las demandas legales y la movilización de la opinión pública a favor de su causa.

The Feminine MystiqueEn 1963, Betty Friedan ­–una de las fundadoras de NOW– publicó un libro titulado The Feminine Mystique que ayudó a dar a conocer a la organización.  En su obra, Friedan cuestionó la domesticidad suburbana al criticar la idea generalizada de que la mayor realización a las que podían aspirar las mujeres era ser madres y esposas. La autora quería que las mujeres desarrollaran carreras profesionales que les permitieran encontrar su identidad como seres humanos. The Feminine Mystique ejerció una gran influencia entre las mujeres estadounidenses, pues hizo ver a muchas de ellas que no estaban solas, que su inconformidad era compartida por miles de congéneres y les dotó de un vocabulario para expresar su desazón.

La guerra de Vietnam y la lucha por los derechos civiles también influyeron el desarrollo del movimiento feminista estadounidense. Miles de mujeres jóvenes estadounidenses se involucraron en los movimientos en contra de la guerra y de la discriminación racial. Ello les ayudó a ganar confianza y a desarrollar una ideología en contra de la opresión de que eran víctimas. En otras palabras, desarrollaron conciencia de su condición de ciudadanos de segunda clase y de la explotación sexual de que eran objeto por una sociedad controlada por los hombres. Además, entraron en contacto con estrategias y tácticas de protesta, que luego aplicaron en su lucha por la igualdad de los géneros.

 

Para 1968, las feministas militantes adoptaron una estrategia de concientización para cambiar la imagen que las mujeres tenían de sí mismas y de su sociedad. Para ello recurrieron a la celebración de pequeñas asambleas donde las mujeres compartían sus experiencias y exponían sus quejas, y entendían que su insatisfacción era compartida por otras mujeres. En otras palabras, las norteamericanas comenzaron a comprender que lo que ellas consideraban problemas personales eran realmente problemas de su género, que requerían soluciones sociales y políticas. Esta toma de conciencia llevó a muchas féminas desarrollar un sentido de hermandad y un compromiso de lucha en contra del sexismo.  Es así como se desarrollan grupos de liberación femenina a todo lo largo y ancho de los Estados Unidos. Éstos adoptaron tácticas de confrontación que llamaran la atención pública, como irrumpir en el certamen de Miss America en 1968 para denunciar lo que estos grupos consideraban la degradación que sufrían las mujeres en los concursos de belleza. Los grupos de liberación femenina también crearon zafacones donde las mujeres podían arrojar los zapatos de tacón alto, fajas y otros “símbolos de la explotación femenina”. De igual forma, exigieron igualdad en la educación y en lugar de trabajo, crearon programas de salud y refugios para mujeres maltratadas y combatieron la imagen que los medios de comunicación reproducían de las mujeres.

El 26 de agosto de 1970 se llevó a cabo la mayor manifestación feminista de la historia en conmemoración de los cincuenta años de la aprobación del voto femenino. Ese día, miles de mujeres marcharon por las calles de diversas ciudades de los Estados en defensa de la igualdad en el empleo y el derecho al aborto.

Equal pay.png

Para principios de la década de 1970, las feministas habían conseguido que los bancos otorgaran crédito a mujeres solteras y a nombre de mujeres casadas, y que muchas universidades aumentasen en el sueldo de cientos de profesoras universitarias. La presión femenina llevó al gobierno a vigilar la discriminación laboral en corporaciones que recibían fondos federales.

safe-legal-abortion-3293539-1-58b74f095f9b58808057367e

Las feministas también abordaron el tema de la sexualidad femenina.  Para ellas, las mujeres debían tener control sobre su capacidad reproductiva y de ahí que recibieran con los brazos abiertos la llegada de la píldora anticonceptiva en 1960, pues ésta les permitía una mayor libertad sexual sin tener que enfrentar el riesgo de un embarazo. Muchas mujeres también presionaron favor de la legalización del aborto como un medio para evitar los riesgos asociados a la práctica ilegal de éste.

Norberto Barreto Velázquez

7 de marzo de 2018

 

Read Full Post »

When Cigarettes Were Good for Women

by Blain Roberts

HNN  March 17, 2014

A recent advertisement in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition for blu eCigs, a popular brand of electronic cigarettes, hit what one public health expert has called “a new high in terms of chutzpah.” It is audacious, though a more literal description might be that the ad hit a new low: it’s a crotch shot, showing a woman’s body cropped from just above her pierced belly button to her mid-thighs. A miniscule black bikini bottom, adorned with the company’s logo, barely covers what’s underneath.  Posed provocatively around the bikini, the woman’s hands appear ready to remove the item of clothing, if you can call it that. The caption reads, “Slim. Charged. Ready to Go.”

Doctors and public health advocates worry about ads like these, which associate e-cigarettes with female sexuality in a bid to attract male consumers, especially teenage boys, who may be tempted to take up vaping and thus put themselves at risk for nicotine addiction.

Beyond the health consequences of such marketing tactics, anyone who cares about the effects of exploiting and sexualizing women’s bodies has obvious reason for concern, too. After all, the blu eCig model seems as much the commodity as the e-cigarette. She is objectified by the ad’s producers, as she will be, presumably, by its consumers as well.

Tobacco and women’s bodies have a long history, to which e-cigarettes (technically tobacco-less) are indebted. Yet this ad belies the complexity of this past. Surprisingly, the sexual sell in the tobacco market—and tobacco use itself—provided modern American women a way to lay claim to their desires, sexual and otherwise.

For years, Americans frowned upon both female tobacco use and female sexuality. Throughout the nineteenth century, the Victorian understanding of separate spheres, which deemed women morally superior and sexually passive, proscribed a variety of activities, like sex (outside of procreation), drinking, business, and politics. These pursuits and pleasures were for men, as was enjoying tobacco—whether it was by chewing it or smoking it in a pipe or cigar, all sensual activities that bordered on the sexual. Tobacco use was simply off-limits to respectable, middle-class women, white and black. Only prostitutes, actresses, and bohemians indulged in the tobacco habit, which sealed its association with a lack of womanly virtue.

Change came fitfully.  In the 1880s and ‘90s, the American Tobacco Company, the Durham, North Carolina, manufacturer that pioneered the selling of cigarettes, bucked traditional standards. It wasn’t that the company targeted potential female smokers; rather, it introduced salacious trade cards into cigarette packs to appeal to men. The cards featured pictures of women scantily dressed, at least by the conventions of the day. Uncovered arms and legs were in abundance, as were stockings, ribbons, and fringe. The cards were brazen acknowledgements of women’s sexuality. Respectable Americans were not ready, and critics pounced.

Image via Duke University Library.

Yet by the 1910s and ‘20s, a full-blown challenge to Victorianism was underway, with young women leading the charge. They demanded the right to bob their hair, wear cosmetics and short skirts, and, like their male peers, dance, drink alcohol, have sex, and, of course, smoke cigarettes. As Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, a precocious teenage smoker and quintessential Jazz Age figure put it, flappers altered everything about their behavior and appearance and “went into the battle.”  The battle to break free from restrictive norms and assert their individuality was waged, and largely won, in cities and on college campuses, in cars and in nightclubs, and in tobacco advertising campaigns, which increasingly supported women’s new desires. Liggett and Myers, maker of Chesterfields, released a magazine ad in 1926 with the tag line “Blow Some My Way.” The illustration featured a woman gazing longingly at her cigarette-smoking companion.

Several years later, a woman in a Chesterfield spot, shown lighting her partner’s cigarette, said coyly,  “Somehow, I just like to give you a light.”  The Chesterfield slogan, “They Satisfy,” drove home the message: female sexuality and tobacco use were now celebrated.”

By the 1930s and ‘40s, the use of female sexuality to promote tobacco had even migrated to the tobacco farms of the Southeast. This region grew much of the tobacco sold in the United States, and during the lean years of the Depression, it needed to pump up demand. Trade boards sponsored beauty pageants for rural women (all white, given Jim Crow customs), who vied for the title of tobacco queen and sometimes competed in skimpy two-piece outfits made out of dried tobacco leaves. Hardly asked to shun the product, women and tobacco were one and the same.

This fact alone made the photographs taken of the beauties arresting, but the images were also suffused with sexual innuendo and phallic images. These photos show contestants and queens putting themselves up for evaluation and auction, like tobacco brought to market for sale. They leisurely puff on foot-long cigarettes and smoke corncob pipes as men, standing in intimate proximity, look on with rapt attention.  What these men were thinking was an open question. In one photograph from the mid-1940s, a North Carolina tobacco queen held a tobacco leaf over her breasts. It was obvious that with one movement she could have been topless.

Image via North Carolina Department of Archives.

Used for marketing purposes, these images were intended for tobacco consumers everywhere, but it’s worth emphasizing that this unusual iconography was intended, in part, to chip away at deep-rooted objections to female smoking in rural areas, where only 8 per cent of women smoked, compared to about 40 percent in cities. The photographs glamorized the sensuous pleasures of tobacco use, suggesting to farm women that smoking, and freer expressions of sexuality, were theirs to claim. Women in more conservative parts of America who subsequently picked up the tobacco habit thus redefined what it meant to be female in their communities.  In the South especially, where a Gordian knot of patriarchy and white supremacy depended upon the sexual subordination of women, this was not an inconsequential development.

All of this culminated in the famous Virginia Slims campaign, launched by the Richmond, Virginia-based Phillip Morris Company in 1968, to promote the new, slimmer cigarette made just for women. Capitalizing on the modern women’s movement, Phillip Morris embraced the language of feminism to demonstrate, as the tag line proclaimed, “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.” Ads contrasted the contemporary, sexually liberated woman, Virginia Slims in hand, with her oppressed female forebears. In one magazine spot, images of a turn-of-the century housewife suffering from the drudgery of household chores—like churning butter!—were paired with the tongue-in-cheek rhyme, “I want a girl, just like the girl that married Dear Old Dad. She’ll wash the floors, polish up the doors, and never make me mad. She won’t smoke or be a suffragette, she will always be my loving pet.” Underneath, the Virginia Slims smoker smiled knowingly at the reader.

The modern woman had come a long way, and tobacco, as this history demonstrates, had helped get her there. Still, there were clearly pitfalls in this strategy of advancing women’s emancipation. Lung disease and death seem a poor trade-off for not having to wash the floors.

Moreover, the line between sexual empowerment and sexual objectification was a thin one, easily transgressed. Sometimes it was difficult to determine who controlled the sexuality on display. The recent blu eCigs advertisement highlights this problem in a striking way: it’s hard to argue that the bikini-clad woman is empowered when you can’t even see her face. This ad, in short, provides a cautionary reminder. When it comes to fighting for women’s liberation, we must be careful in selecting our weapons.

Blain Roberts is associate professor of history at California State University, Fresno. She is the author of Pageants, Parlors, and Pretty Women:  Race and Beauty in the Twentieth-Century South

Read Full Post »