Women's bodies worth $, but not respect

Issue 
There is a new wave of feminists but sexism and misogyny is alive and well.

A survey of 604 Australian youths undertaken by Our Watch has come up with some dismaying findings about their attitudes towards sex and consent.

Of those polled, one in four said it is normal for men to pressure women into sex, and 60% said it was “up to the girl to make it very clear if she does not want to have sex”.

Thirty seven per cent reported that it was hard to respect a female when she was drunk and 27% said it was hard to respect a woman in revealing clothing.

The pervasive idea that women are undeserving of respect if they get drunk or wear revealing clothes is one that needs to be dispelled among the young.

Frighteningly, more than one in 10 said a woman who was drunk, affected by drugs or wearing revealing clothing was “at least partly responsible for unwanted sex”.

These results are appalling, but not entirely surprising.

A new wave of feminists is appearing, but sexism and misogyny in Australia is alive and well and still thrives among the younger generation.

In today's “pornified” culture, the sexualisation of women and girls means the assumption that women are available for sex at all times — unless they expressly state otherwise — actually holds serious currency.

The mainstream media no longer portrays women as virginal, delicate flowers. The serious money-making is in the debasement and commodification of women's bodies.

This is reaffirmed everywhere we look — in music video clips, TV shows, online memes, T-shirts, billboards, pornography and even coffee mugs.

Ideas about women and men having “innate” sexual roles are inculcated in children from a young age, and these attitudes ultimately serve the billionaire class which profits from the oppression of women.

Our Watch chief executive Mary Barry said the research showed that when it comes to sex and consent, youth “are largely left to figure it out for themselves, with their only guides often being dubious and problematic role models, pornography and porn-inspired popular culture”.

These attitudes reflect the serious rates of sexual assaults of women and gender variant people on campus. The National Union of Students surveyed students last year in a study called Talk About It, which collected data on the rates of sexual assault on campus.

The survey found that a whopping 86% of respondents had experienced someone making unwanted sexual comments or noises, 35% had experienced unwanted groping or touching and 17% had experienced rape.

Of the respondents, a majority (68%) did not report the incident. Of those who did report the incident to their university, more were unhappy with how it was dealt than were happy.

These results speak to the reality of a serious problem. The media and their buddies — the 1% — have no interest in fixing the problem anytime soon, though they have the means.

The truth is that under capitalism, we will never truly take down sexism while the system which perpetuates it remains standing.

For this reason, the majority of people, of all genders, need to stand together in solidarity to reject sexism, and build an alternative, with women's liberation as matter of priority.

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