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September 10, 2010

Womens' Rights Activist, Larry Flynt

"It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union.... Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less."  ~Susan B. Anthony

A recent Huffington Post article, written by Hustler magazine publisher and free speech advocate, Larry Flynt, asks the question, "What ever happened to equal rights for women?"  Many people may look at Mr. Flynt's article and ask how a man who has made his fortune and fame off of the pornography industry can attempt to act as a spokesperson for woman's rights.  The reality is that Mr. Flynt, being honest to a fault, accurately identifies how the woman's rights movement has made minimal progress since securing the right to vote in 1920, and so, he calls for a new push for equal rights for women (or maybe this was just for the sake of reigniting an old rivalry or prepping a sympathy defense for an impending lawsuit).



Specifically, Mr. Flynt discusses the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and (vengefully) asserts that it failed to pass in the 1970s mainly due to the unconvincing rhetoric used by Gloria Steinem in marketing the bill.  Despite his blatant blame game attack on his longtime enemy, Ms. Steinem, Flynt makes a solid point:  "A country that discriminates against half its population cannot be held up as a great democracy."   Flynt also points out that today women, on average, are paid roughly 20% to 25% less than their male counterparts for doing the same job, despite the passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963. Despite the progress that women have made, they are yet to secure equal treatment as demanded by Alice Paul when she drafted the ERA in 1923. 

 In no way is this article trying to glorify Larry Flynt as a feminist or activist for the equal rights of women.  He is a smut peddler that has paved the way for the porn industry to go much farther with scenes exhibiting the degradation of women than many would even think possible decades ago.  Despite that fact, he does bring up an argument worthy of further discussion - Why are women not guaranteed equal treatment by the Constitution?  Why do women have less recourse for discrimination than ethnic or racial minorities?   

Our society has come to expect super-human qualities from women by increasing the pressures on women to be productive members of society at the cost of individualized progression of self.  The cultivation of this new genre of women is plagued by submissive hyper-sexuality and hyper-feminized personas and appearances which must be managed and curtailed, just so, so as to conquer the conflicting hyper-masculinized expectancies of a begrudging society.  To further exasperate this impending doom, societal notions that a woman is a reproductive agent, meant to carry on the human race by popping out multitudes of children has created a whole slew of issues that align with overpopulation which I can't even think about covering at this point in time.  And, all the while, these fem-bots must fulfill the demands necessary to compete with their male counterparts in climbing that corporate ladder while striving to maintain that streamlined "beauty" with capitalist-driven creams and conditioners which are inevitably leading to their demise in the form of cancers, stress and depression.  And yet, women complacently remain subservient to that same self-loathing and deprecation that the sadistic members of society relish in and profit from. 

Today, more than ever, women deserve to be treated with respect and afforded equal rights and treatment.  It's sad enough that a large percentage of men innately view women as sexual objects.  Just consider the ways womens' bodies become objectified by the mass mediaThe pressure put on women through ads, television, film and news media to be sexually attractive and sexually active is profound.

So when pornographer, Larry Flynt, asks, "what ever happened to equal rights for women," don't just dismiss the question because of who the person is that's asking it.  Really, what happened to the feminist movement?  

"Taught from infancy that beauty is woman's sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison."  ~Mary Wollstonecraft