There is nothing empowering in being sexualized and objectified. Common sense will tell us that. But because the influence of mainstream media seems to be stronger than common sense nowadays, women are made to believe that undressing themselves is liberating.
I used to think that this is all the fault of men’s magazines that feature scantily clad women. But this video made me realize that women’s fashion magazines that encourage women to dress up “sexily” are to blame, too. In the process of objectification, there is a subject and an object. Clearly, in our society where women’s bodies are employed to sell everything, the object here is the woman, and the subject (the one who acts upon the object) is the man. In other words, mainstream media sells desirability to women and power to men. And whenever we buy into this “sexy lie,” it is us women who become disempowered.
Women are gracious, intelligent, gentle, nurturing, and beautiful in so many ways. Mainstream media should highlight these characteristics of ours that truly matter and stop focusing on our body parts. But women and men should do their parts, too. In this TEDTalk, Dr. Caroline Heldman, chair of the politics department of Occidential College in Los Angeles, enumerates ways to put an end to the sexualization and objectification of women:
-Stop consuming damaging materials [e.g. fashion magazines]
-Stop competing with other women/girls
-Stop seeking attention for your body
-Be a supportive ally
-Don’t evaluate girls/women based on appearance
-Speak out against objectification
What I especially like about this video is how Dr. Heldman calls for the liberation of women without stripping them of responsibility. She even gives us a concrete plan to “demolish the paradigm” that limits us and reduces us to less than who we really are. And in our world where more and more unsuspecting women are falling quickly into the sexual objectification trap, it is high time we put this plan into action.