Inspiration, Hypersexualization, & Formation

I asked my powerful, informative, opinionated friend Cristel T. to answer a few questions on women since she is a woman who contributes to the fight for women’s rights on the daily. Read below! 
Think about a woman who inspires you, what makes her an inspiration?
Courtesy of Google.
The women that inspire me (because it just hit me how many there are) are inspirational to me because of their drive to persevere. You know, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had a lot of really strong women play a role in raising me. My mother, my grade school teachers, neighbors, my babysitter – for the most part they were all women who I would later learn were going through a lot during the years of my childhood. Til this day, I admire these women because despite the obstacles in their lives, they manage to be foward-thinkers. Not looking at the past and wondering what went wrong, not worrying about tiny issues that are easily amplified in the present. I’m inspired by their ability to remain grounded when life tries to pull them up by the roots. I mean this not to be cliche and say, “they inspire me never to give up,”  but to say they showed me just how much it takes to succeed. Anyone can tell you not to give up – rhetoric itself can be extremely inspirational, but when people show you how to stay balanced through it all – that’s special. That’s what these inspirational women have been showing me all my life.
What is the largest issue you have with society and how it deals with/addresses/oppresses women?
Courtesy of Google.
I’d say the hypersexualization of a women’s body has and will continue to be extremely detrimental to women.
a.  We’re living in a culture where women are shunned (by both men and women at times) for breastfeeding their child in public. Lack of knowledge may play a role. Lactation can be painful if it doesn’t happen right then and there, and after a woman gives birth, the purpose of her breasts is to to secrete milk.  Many people have this notion that breasts are sexual objects and breastfeeding, which happens to be a natural process, is somehow gross (the fuck?).
b. this hypersexualization of the female body leads to an extremely uncomfortable objectification of women. From catcalling to stares, our culture – guided in large by our fucked up media and industries that profit from this ideal body image – dehumanize women. I’m not saying you can’t/shouldn’t admire a person if you find them physically attractive, I’m saying our society, again, both men and women alike, has been conditioned to view and demand more of the female body. To focus on the hypersexualization of breasts and butts places a burden on women to want idealized body proportions instead of appreciating the natural shape and form their bodies were meant to support
c. this really fucks with the way women interact with one another. When society hypersexualizes the female body, we start to divide women into two categories: 1) women who appreciate their bodies and prefer to wear clothing that accentuate their features, and 2) women who appreciate their bodies and prefer more conservative attire. Note – I included “appreciate their bodies” in both, but society often excludes this and choses to pit women against one another over their preferred appearances. This isn’t because people are into what clothing designer the ladies are wearing nowadays, it’s because they’re focused more on their perception of how the female body ought to be presented.
Do you think there is enough support amongst women, do we empower each other enough?
OKAY LADIES NOW LET’S GET IN FORMATION (cause we slay). I think women do a lot to empower each other, but I don’t think it happens nearly as much as it could. I don’t have all the solutions for how we can move forward, but it’d be great to see women empathize (not just sympathize) more with one another. As women, there are certain things we can relate to and too often, at least from my experience, I’ve witnessed women compete or put another down in order to get ahead. Overall, I feel like confident women are headed in the right direction and women’s empowerment will only continue to advance. I guess it’s just about individually catching ourselves each time we’re about to say or do something that may have a negative effect.
I heard someone discussing Rihanna and Beyonce and how Rihanna really “tried it” with her tour, but queen Bey just swooped down, announced Formation, and snatched Rih’s soul. I thought, we rarely ever say that about two men in the industry. We don’t go saying, “oh shit, Kanye dropped an album, ain’t nobody going to Drake’s concert.” It’s one thing if you prefer one artist over the other, but to force female artists into this subtle competition rather than acknowledging that both of these women of color are topping the charts (ranking higher than their male counterparts)- that’s got to stop. I’ve seen it often. I think it’s the reason there are far fewer women in the rap game! Because once a woman comes on the scene, she’s instantly compared to someone who’s been around for longer. Not that it doesn’t happen to men too, but we shouldn’t be working to reinforce a glass ceiling, we should be working towards breaking through it.
How do you all feel about inspirational female figures, society’s expectations and treatment of women, and supporting each other? 

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