Biologically, competition between organisms is a natural result of evolution. They compete to access a limited number of resources such as food, shelter, or mating partners. Hence, the human tendency to compete with each other as a result of envy, conceit, prejudice, discrimination and other man-made entities might be a natural outgrowth of this biological competition. It becomes especially dangerous when its existence is weaponized by mammoth social structures based on hatred for certain social groups.
It is an old age dilemma of a woman being both intelligent and worthy. Their eyes peek out of the frosty glass windows, skim through the random scribbles on the whiteboard, scan through the overwhelming spreadsheets, shimmer in empathy, steel at laxity, and mesmerize over details while simultaneously watching the baby.
None of it matters if they daze out once in a while whilst mulling over insights. They are viewed with scepticism and in order to peg at their reasonable estimation, they have to go ham in their tasks. After constantly receiving dubieties regarding their skills, validation becomes a necessary part of their diet. Brainwashed by the social dictum, women even in their fiercest form, seem to subconsciously seek validation.
Constant competition between women is birthed to gain more power and male attention in order to fit into the mould of the perfect woman. Noam Shpancer writes in Psychology Today, “As women come to consider being prized by men their ultimate source of strength, worth, achievement and identity, they are compelled to battle other women for the prize.” In short: When our value is tied to attention and validation, we turn on each other.
Growing up, we’ve loved many (not so) fanciful fairy tales. Considering the era we live in, the “damsel in distress” awaiting a “knight in shining armour” to validate her beauty isn’t the best example to inculcate the values of self-love. The worst-kept secret of womanhood is the unrelenting societal pressure to conform to arbitrary, cookie-cutter beauty norms. And while women today face an unprecedented high bar when it comes to appearances, it isn’t a new concept. They date back to 458 B.C.E. when the playwright Aeschylus dreamt up the ultimate embodiment of unattainable beauty: Aphrodite. The patriarchy wired to humanity has yet again tormented the feminine folk with problematic expectations, yet again leaving them with the anxiety to warrant their worth.
One of the biggest industries employing women solely is prostitution. In no manner does this article consider prostitution to be demeaning or morally flawed. However, a study, ‘Sociology in Prostitution’, empirically claims that this profession has never been chosen with free will. Choices are never made in a vacuum— a multitude of factors and characteristics of the society we live in will never cease to impact them. Both (seemingly) voluntary and involuntary involvement is implied in the aforementioned statement.
Voluntary ensnarement encompasses poverty, destitution, lack of resources to treat illness in the family, insolvency, sex for enjoyment, peer association, domestic clashes, drug addiction in husbands, etc. whilst involuntary admittance enfolds, rape, sexual assault, early marriages, trafficking, and deceit by family or lover.
Let’s ponder upon the fact why some women choose to sell their bodies with so-called consent. Clearly, it is the only source of approval they receive for their bodies. Failing to adhere to the standards of unattainable beauty like that of Aphrodite, they tend to hate themselves more than the world ever would. They are more interested in how other social creatures perceive them.
“I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.”
– Charles Horton Cooley.
Mia Khalifa is a 27-year-old social media personality, webcam model, and sports commentator. However, that is not how people know her. She landed a stint in the adult-film world in 2014. She graduated from a reputed university with a respectable background. However, the flood of her insecurities drowned her in a trap. She didn’t intend to gather the fame she has now. However, with such a massive audience, one can’t fathom how hard it must have been to quit. This caused the Streisand effect; and to worsen her state even further, she was disowned by her parents.
“I think what made me go back and do it again was the attention I was receiving. I was afraid it would go away if I didn’t do what I was asked to do. I couldn’t say no to it— it was a clever plot aside from the blatant sacrilege.”
She opened up about her past in an interview and shed a lot of light on the psychology behind her choices.
“Even if I fail to fight for my life back, I will not stop until I can protect every young girl from getting taken advantage of by these predatory contracts.”
In the end, we hope for a better tomorrow.
Written by: Shreya Mittal
Edited by: Ria Shridher