I am not an object

Sarah Grier, Pulse Editor

“You belong in the modeling business, not the College of Business.”

I can still picture the smirk of a middle-aged bus driver as he looked me up and down while saying these words to me. I felt violated. I was at the “Women Mean Business” camp this past summer at the University of Minnesota. I was supposed to feel empowered about entering a male-dominated field; this man had, in 11 words, reminded me of the judgment I will face in my future career.

This type of interaction constantly happens around us, brushed off despite any impact on the receiver. I would’ve forgotten these words after the camp ended, but I accidently recorded the entire exchange.

That night, we had a discussion about harassment in the workplace and I showed the video as an example. The video traveled up the administration until the president of the University had seen the video; he was appalled that this man was working for them. He told me a verbal harassment complaint was filed, and this man’s job was terminated because it was directed to a minor.

I felt guilty that I caused this man to lose his job; that was not my intent. But I was not asking for this. No one is asking for it. My conservative business casual clothes argued the exact opposite of his statement. I was being judged on what he viewed below my collared shirt and black suit pants. By definition, I was a victim of verbal harassment.

I am aware that this is historically the best time it’s been to be a woman, but it’s frustrating to witness the insignificant effect from the massive annual Women’s Marches. It’s time for the women’s movement to aim at key issues, not argue over politics. It’s time for women to end the cultural prejudice arguing that girls cannot achieve the same as males. Statements like, “a female president would be too emotional” or “women belong in the home” must stop. From my own experience, I realized the thing holding women back is physical appearance.

Studies show that pornography is one of the biggest factors to this. According to a recent study by the American Psychological Association, 90 percent of children ages 8 to 16 have viewed porn and the largest consumers of porn are 12 to 17-year-old boys. This explicit content is affecting the development of young boys.

A 2015 collaborative study was performed by Indiana University to look at the neurological impact of pornography. One of their conclusions was that consumption of pornographic material is associated with sexual aggression, among males and females. The associations were stronger for verbal than physical sexual aggression, although both were significant.

Perhaps the reason the #MeToo movement is so large is that both males and females view aggressive sexual tendencies as normal. I’m pretty sure a pornographic film does not involve a line actually asking for consent. I’m not here to argue the ban of all porn. I am writing to show the culture being bred in America. It doesn’t make sense to give anyone a free pass for sexual harassment. Calling it human nature is complete BS. We need a health unit on consent and respect for partners rather than tie dying T-shirts or watching “Cool Runnings.”

Time’s up on letting others dictate success based on physical appearances. Time’s up on not respecting others. We need to be the generation that takes a stand to this societal pressure. Girls don’t just belong in the modeling business, they belong in the boardrooms of America and anything else they set their minds to.­