The Female Body: An Agent for Exploitation

The main way that men and women are treated differently in the world is because of their human sexuality. Every person’s role in sex greatly influences his or her position in society. A woman’s body can be viewed as biologically superior as a result of her sexuality, for example, because it has the ability to bear children where a male’s cannot. This ability is extremely important because if women did not give birth then there would be no future generations and thereby no future for the world. This appears to give women an assurance and confidence in their body because they are given a crucial role. Males, not females, however, have long dominated in leadership positions and this fact continued into the 1980s America as well. If males are in power then any sense of empowerment for females can be seen as a threat to male authority and if childbirth gives women a great power then this appears to make men weak and God forbid men appear weaker than women. Leading males, therefore, compensated for their inability by exploiting the female capacity to give birth for their own personal and sexual gain. Eisenstein explains that it is in this way that a culture has more influence in defining a woman than biology does because if members of a society choose to determine and control a woman’s destiny then it is that control that shapes what it means to be a woman. Men believed that if women were isolated as only child bearers and not given the ability to explore other options, then they could be more easily manipulated and their potential for power would be stifled. These attempts to control women’s sexuality and the female body were seen through cases of arranged marriage, sexual assault, human trafficking, slavery, and rape. The issue of rape in the 1980s was a key way in which men attempted to control the female body other than just isolating them to childbearing roles. Because rape victims are valued only for their bodies and viewed only as sexual pawns, these women experience extreme forms of physical, psychological, and sociological distress after they are abused. Rape cases also often lead to situations of unwanted pregnancy where women are forced into childbearing roles because of their fertile rather than maternal ability. The abundance of rape cases in the 1980s did not shed light on these horrors but instead allowed for a continued oppression of women as those who fell victim to rape were ignored and silenced. The isolation of women as child bearers and the abuse of women through rape both allow for the continuation of male power through the exploitation of women to create them as solely biological agents of their society. The abuses of childbirth and rape created an extreme dystopia for women in the 1980s as they transformed a woman’s biology and sexuality from a gift to a burden.

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