Thursday, July 31, 2008

This is a Man's World: So, Women, Give In

Feminists spent many years fighting for equal rights in the past; now that they achieved this legal impartiality, just how equal are men and women? On the surface, today’s society may seem as though men and women are treated uniformly, for women are now working at many different jobs. Just turn on the TV or browse the advertisements in a magazine for a closer look. The vast majority of commercials and advertisements flow with visions of sex. Any product, whether it is shoes or deodorant, can be sold by using erotic images, and most of these images focus on women’s bodies. These images have become so commonplace in the media that people do not question them, so people do not realize what this is doing to our culture. In a man’s world, women are not human rather they are objects of pleasure that can be and should be shaped into whatever is defined as “beautiful” by our society.

In fear of women becoming just as powerful and successful as them, men have found a new way to suppress women. Most of the “sexy” ads that are displayed throughout the media typically depict men as dominant and women as inferior, the Urbanflo advertisement above is an example of this. The man is shown on top of the woman, whose legs are bent in a way to show passivity. The Puma, Skyy, and Radiator ads depict this concept, as well. Not only are women shown as meek and submissive, but they also are objectified; this objectification takes away from the fact that women are actually human beings too. Instead, they are shown as display shelves to show off Nike sneakers. Objectification also includes the idea of only using certain parts of the woman’s body in an image to market a product. For instance, Durex only used a woman’s mouth to get their point across, and Francesco Biasia used only the back of a woman. Women have been commodified further by being used to advertise products for men only, such as men’s underwear, deodorant or razors. When have you seen men being used to advertise razors for women or women’s lingerie? Women are even on the covers of most men’s magazines like Maxim and Macho-Man. The bottom line is that women take these images and believe they have to be half-naked with the perfect body for men to be attracted to them. All these tactics that favor men are used to bring down women so men can still feel powerful; Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth, asserts, “We are in the midst of a violent backlash against feminism that uses images of female beauty as a political weapon against women’s advancement: the beauty myth” (120).

Feminism has become weaker in today’s society because many women are giving in to male dominance. Because these images of sex and half-naked women are so immersed in our culture, women feel that they must look like those images to get a man. In order to become “beautiful”, women and even girls turn to women’s magazines for advice. All these magazines are filled with skinny women with perfect bodies, hair, and makeup. What people do not realize is that most of the time these pictures are airbrushed creating an unattainable standard of beauty. Women and girls, however, are trying so hard to become this ideal that it is detrimental to their physical and emotional health. Looking at all the skinny women sometimes brings women’s self-esteem to extremely low levels. They constantly do not feel pretty enough because there are reminders everywhere that they do not look like the catalogue women. Furthermore, in order to get the best butt, best beach body, or feel great naked entails women to be skinny. Many women and girls develop eating disorders because they do not feel comfortable with their body. The author of The Cult of Thinness, Sharlene Hesse-Biber, has done the research, and she found, “Conservative estimates put the number of young women and girls with eating disorders between 5 and 10 million. Estimates of body dissatisfaction among women range upward to 56%. Younger kids are joining the diet craze: An estimated 40% of 9- and 10-year-old kids say they “sometimes” or “very often” diet” (15). The fact that so many women are giving in to these ridiculous ideals of our society and are even encouraging them, makes it that much easier for our culture to go on producing these demeaning images.


Works Cited

Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy. The Cult of Thinness. 2nd Ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Wolf, Naomi. "The Beauty Myth." Chapter III: Gender and Women's Bodies (1991): 120-125.