Il Corpo Delle Donne: Beauty and Brains

by Devina Gunawan

Women’s bodies have been used as tools. They have been source of entertainment. They are the icon of beauty. They are the pride and the downfall of women.

I was aghast watching the video of Il Corpo Delle Donne in my Italian class. We were learning about gender issues in Italy, yes, but I never expected the treatment towards women would be this horrid.

My heart cringed whenever the men in the video knocked the heads of the women saying, “Do you even have brains?” or “Oh right, you have no brains.” There were scenes of the women being displays for sexual pleasures in the audience’s eyes, of them being treated as tools or animals, and of them making fools of themselves to fulfill the men’s desires.

Where has the justice gone? Where has our pride gone?

It is as if the women have stripped pride and dignity away from themselves.

Plastic surgery has been spreading like fungi as well. The women prioritize their looks over any other things. Especially now when the world is full of beauty competition, everyone wants to be beautiful and noticed.

The TV shows have women wearing bikinis or low cut dresses acting all dumb and seductive for the sake of entertainment. They either become the object of mockery in the show or the display. There was a show shown in the video where women just stayed next to the host like mannequins, smiling at the camera and winking, as if trying to seduce audience.

Some women in the video protested and complained about the dark sides of showing off polished beauty because it gave wrong impression to the youth groups that they had to follow these women as role models. I agree in many ways, because these women do not show intelligence or pride or dignity, nor do they look like they possess any of those. They simply show off their beautiful bodies and faces and hair and leave their personalities at home.

Nowadays, there are so many girls who go anorexic or bulimic. They have adapted to the society’s perception of beauty. The slender legs, the slim faces, the big hair, the big breasts, and many more. Mothers are concerned, men are more and more contented, and the image of women falls deeper along with misleading nature of unnecessary beauty.

I think this kind of thing is the reason why women are not respected. We tend to become objects of mockery, icons of physical beauties, and models of emotional and full-of-drama queens. We are not regarded as people who can be rational, who can reason with the intellectuals, or those who can be as tough and competitive as executives and professionals. These images of women being dumb and beautiful or irrational and emotional degrade every woman.

Not all women are sensual. Not all women are beauty-obsessed. Not all women are emotionally unstable. Not all women are irrational.

Perhaps this is why like in the movie “Baby Boom”, JC the main protagonist, is seen as a man. She is competitive, tough, practical, and she reasons very well. And it is not womanly to be smart and independent? We have fallen into gendered society, not as individualized one. It is as if the world is saying that once a woman is smart, she can be on the same level as men. Somehow the idea that women are smart never really reaches the world.

Perhaps this is why TV shows like CW’s Nikita are very enjoyable. There is a female lead character who is very strong and powerful. She outsmarts all men and she can fight them. In one of the episodes a leader of an organization finds his men beaten up and asks. “Who did it?” When they respond, “A woman, dark haired, very fast,” their leader comments, “You fought Nikita. That was an unfair fight.” How can women not like this show? A woman character is feared by many men, regarded as the best fighter, and she does not only represent beauty but also brains. I am ultimately obsessed with this show due to the satisfaction of seeing women power in it.

Now why can’t there be more TV shows like this? Why can’t there be more shows that depict women’s ability to rule and be stronger than men? Why is it always men ruling over women and women making fool of themselves to please the male audience?

Why is the world siding with men? Isn’t it strange how almost everything is done in such ways that men are on top of the hierarchy? Those TV shows were just a minor thing. Look at women in the workforce. They handle both career and family. Men do not fight for both, they just go for career because that is the worldly image inflicted upon the gender roles. Men provide, women serve.

When women provide, people forget that they are women or say, “Well, these women are exceptional” or “they are different.” When men pass by in working attires people say, “what a good husband” or “what a hardworking man,” but when women walk by with their children people do not even say anything.

Thank God women understand women. I love hearing comments from other mothers when they compliment each other. “What a smart mother you are!” or “Look at how well you take care of your children!” or “You are one strong mother!”

Women with ‘brains’ or career are not regarded as ‘ordinary women’, and some are even called manly. Is the image of women prioritizing beauty really that deeply planted? Is woman unable of being anything other than beautiful and dumb or unwomanly and smart?

Can they ever get out of this? Can we all?

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