Elizabeth M. Lucas – WNN Opinion
Despite progress in some quarters, the media continues to perpetuate sexism in some outrageous ways. Many radio stations, for instance, offer contests that objectify and sexualize women— offering them up on the high altar of gender inequality. Even worse? No hue and cry for this behavior to end. It’s business as usual in a society that often accepts blatant sexism and misogyny as “normal.”
But how normal is it to “win a wife?” A radio station in Canada is holding a competition in which all those who compete get an opportunity to do just that. A skimpily dressed (mail order) Russian bride, her hands provocatively next to her mouth, is pictured on the station’s website. Beneath it, the words: “We’re not going to give this opportunity to just anybody … to weed out the no-hopers and time-wasters, we’ve developed the application form below. If you’re interested in potential holy matrimony with a hot foreign chick, fill it out to the best of your abilities.”
A radio station in New Zealand held the same contest last year, only this station sent its lucky winner to the Ukraine, not Russia. In this case, the Ukraine Association of New Zealand filed grievances with owners of the radio station and a Ukraine feminist group protested the competition.
This most recent “Win a Wife” contest in Canada should sound alarms. Volga Girl, the mail-order site sponsoring the contest, describes itself as “providing a wide range of services to those men who are interested in finding a compatible Russian wife.” Unfortunately, many vulnerable women from developing countries make themselves available as Internet brides because of poverty and dire economic circumstances. In reality, many don’t have a choice and may end up trafficked into a world of sexual exploitation, or married to men who abuse them.
Sadly, the “Win a Wife” contest is only one of many radio contests that are a societal barometer on the com-modification of women and girls. “The Breast Christmas Ever,” and “The Breast Summer Ever,” for example, offered women a chance at free beast augmentations, or “boob jobs.” Another station had plans for a “thinnest body” contest. Can we truly believe that these promotions help women and girls nurture their self-esteem by allowing them to degrade themselves by posting pictures on the Web so listeners can vote for a winner? What kind of message does this send to women, and more important, young girls?
People who abhor these contests should call the stations and advertisers and complain LOUDLY. Better yet, join with organizations working to change these sexist beliefs and misogynistic practices to create a better tomorrow where all women and girls are valued.
As new Executive Director and CEO of Soroptimist International of the Americas, Elizabeth Lucas is dedicated in focusing on the life, health and well-being of global women and girls. Soroptimist International is an international volunteer organization for business and professional women who work to improve the lives of women and girls in local communities and throughout the world.
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