You are right that at first I said sexualized photos "cause" rape which is actually not what I meant. But I corrected myself later and told you what I meant.
Superkatie said she disagreed with my comments about rape and since I said that I think a sexuality based on objectifying and fetishizing people's body parts and reducing them to body parts to have....is dangerous and patriarchal. She said that I was "trivializing" rape. I interpreted her to mean that she thinks there needs to be a lot of violence or force to be rape. But I never said it WAS rape. I said is sounded a lot like it to me...meaning, if that's the sort of sexuality we encourage in our culture, then sexual violence will be more prevalent.
As Catharine MacKinnon's has argued, under conditions of sex inequality, it is very difficult to tell sex and rape apart from each other. That's because our culture has become increasingly pornographic and fetishizing and objectifying are normalized. This is not to "trivialize" rape as you suggest but rather to broaden the term of rape to include coercive circumstances.
Objectify - to make impersonal or present as an object
If making people impersonal and seeing them as objects rather than people is a "healthy" sexuality, then we have a lot of work to do. Rapists see their victims as 'things to have' and depersonalize them to make it easier.
The key question here is this: What kind of a society do we live in that sexuality based on seeing people as dismembered body parts and pieces of flesh to have, is deemed normal and healthy??? My guess is the patriarchal one we live in.
"sex where one person sees the other person as less than human, as a mere body part." If THIS is normal and healthy...then we've got a lot of work to do. And actually I think it's dangerous to pretend like rape only occurs with intense violence and force. Actually, women often times are too scared or timid (understandably so) to do anything, but will still indicate with body language they don't want to have sex. THIS is rape so please stop acting like it has to be forceful and violent in order to be rape. That's a dangerous myth and you're perpetuating it.
And let's please be a little more mature and stop the name-calling.
Oops, I meant to say at the end of the last post..."Don't you think it's significant that men aren't socialized to display their bodies as much as women are?"
And I do appreciate the kind email I got from the moderator. I also wish there were more folks out there who had a feminist and sociological understanding of sexual violence and how media and images contribute to it.
If I have neglected to put responsibility on men for violence against women, I apologize for this as well. I wholeheartedly agree that the key to stopping violence against women is for us to stop raising boys and men to be violent and rough. I think we need man-to-man anti-sexual violence workshops on campus and our ideal images of manhood shouldn't be hypermasculine violent men in movies.
However, women can and do internalize their own oppression (sexism). As a result, they may do things that reinforce it. Like voting for anti-choice politicians, purposely crying in order to get out of a speeding ticket, etc. And so women will have to be mindful of their actions as well, though they aren't responsible for sexism.
I never said anything about laws or rules against what women can wear and how they can express themselves. My goal isn't to outlaw short skirts or prohibit women from wearing plunging necklines. I believe women should have this freedom...but along with this freedom comes responsibility. Women (and certainly men as well) need to consider what they are reinforcing when they behave or dress certain ways. People react to each other based on how they're dressed. While this may seem like a trivial way to "judge" somebody, when we interact with people, clothing is one of the things from which we draw meanings and messages, regardless of whether they are intended or not.
When women in universities and workplaces wear scantily-clad clothing, they are reinforcing the idea that women want to be thought of primarily as sex-objects. We get the message that women are always "sexualized" and choose to be, regardless of where they are and what they are doing.
Is it fair that women should have to carry this burden? Absolutely not. But we are living in a sexist culture and whether we like it or not, we either resist or reinforce ideas of the dominant culture. So all I'm calling for is for women be a little more mindful about what they are reinforcing about all women as a group, when they get dressed. Make no mistake, I'm also calling for men to dissent from violent masculinity.
Also, I'm quite well aware of the 2 or 3 studies that recently came out that say porn and violence in the media supposedly reduce violence. I noticed a lot of pro-porn folks readily accepted the data and research offered in this study after years of rejecting research and data that demonstrated that porn and sexualized images lead to sexual violence.
Unfortunately, there is a mountain of evidence that directly contradicts this handful of studies...you know, with data. Are you familiar with the work of Diana Russell? Edward Donnerstein?
Did you hear about this? Apparently, sexualized media images of women harms young girls.
And furthermore, a lot of these revelations about sexualized and sexist portrayals of women in pop culture...came from qualitative research (accounts from victims, interviews with rapists and men who batter, in-depth interviews with people in the porn industry, etc.) Because numbers don't tell the whole story.
I am certainly not anti-sex. But I do object to patriarchal sexuality that is based on fetishizing and objectifying people's body parts. I am against the sort of sex where one person sees the other person as less than human, as a mere body part. To me that's masturbating on someone's body, w/o respect for that person...sounds a lot like rape to me. That is dehumanizing. That said, please spare me the details of your sex life.
And you seem to think the only options for women are EITHER short, tight skirts and push-up bras OR veils and burqas. What about regular ordinary shirts and jeans? What's so bad about these clothes? Are you suggesting they are off-limits to women? And don't you think it's significant that men are pressured and socialized to show off their bodies like women are?
No, actually men who hurt women are not exceptional and they aren't just warped individuals. A great deal of social science research as well as victim's accounts back me up on this. The men who sexually assault and batter women are everyday men that we come in contact with everyday.
Violence against women is a symptom of a larger cultural phenomenon where objectifying women on the covers of magazines and sexualizing their body parts is acceptable. I said it before and I'll say it again...If we start thinking about people as things or body parts, rather than full humans with thoughts and feelings, it is much easier to hurt these people.
Furthermore, I think there are a lot of ways women can be beautiful, without referring to their bodies. Why do we have to associate beauty and attractiveness with people's body parts? Why don't we consider people's thoughts and emotions and efforts as the things that make them beautiful????
And a lot of activism social justice work that occurred during the seventies and early eighties is still VERY relevant and useful to us today.
Several sociologists refer to sexualized images of women, pornography, and the commodification of women's bodies in advertising and elsewhere....as "enabling conditions" for violence. In other words, although they do not cause violence to occur, they create an environment where sexual violence is significantly more likely to occur. They have an effect.
I apologize for not making myself more clear. Let me clarify. I am not blaming the victim at all. I am saying that women can and often do reinforce their own oppression, by being complicit in it. Just like some Black people and some queer people are complicit in racism and heterosexism. Is the revealing clothing itself oppressive? Of course not. But unfortunately you need to acknowledge that we live under a system of sex inequality. Men are privileged as men, at the expense of women. Women, as a group, are systematically disadvantaged as women. Men, as a group, benefit from this. And because of all, men and women face very different consequences for similar behaviors. So no, it would not be the same if a man had been shown eating oyster with his shirt off. I think objectifying anybody is wrong and unhealthy so I would object to that as well. However, such a photograph would not reinforce the idea that men are only valued for their bodiesbecause we dont have that idea about men. Men are not sexually harassed NEARLY as much as women are and men are not ogled and whistled at NEARLY as much as women, so NO, it wouldnt be the same.
Now that we got that out of the way, let me continue. I never meant to suggest that the picture would cause violence. But we are living in a culture where womens bodies are commodified and dismembered in advertisingwhere one part of a womans body is used to sell a product (breasts, legs, buttocks)where men buy and sell womens bodies (prostitution, stripping, pornography)where women are routinely ogled and whistled at as they walk down the street. The net effect of these things is to reinforce the idea that women should be valued by the way they look and that the only thing about them that matters is their bodies/appearance. It is easiest to hurt a person if you dont see that person as a human being, but rather an object. Thats why the Nazis pumped out the propaganda about Jews and gypsies being less than human, as being cockroaches to be exterminated. Yes this is an extreme example, but I think it makes the point.
I have done some anti-sexual assault work in my time and what I hear from many women and men (both victims and people who study sexual assault) is that rapists and men who sexually harass women a) usually make it clear that they thing of women as sex objects and b) often consume pornography, where womens bodies are explicitly commodified and objectified.
So what Im saying is that when we are constantly bombarded by images of women in revealing clothing, emphasizing their breasts or legs or buttocks, this has an effect on the culture at large. It has an effect on people. I am most certainly not arguing that women should be cloaked and veiled and this is a complete distortion of my point, probably invoked in order to discredit me. Otherwise, Im not sure how you made that leap. I am arguing that we stop using womens bodies as sex appeal and putting womens bodies out on display in order to sell a product. Look at the picture. What does eating oysters have to do with womens breasts?? Perhaps they wanted to invoke the idea of sex b/c oysters are supposedly aphrodisiacs. There are a million other ways to do that without objectifying a womans body. And when we think about sex with a woman, why are breasts the first thing we think about? Not her mind or thoughts or feelingsbut a body part.
And the comment about the woman wanting to be in the picture and getting paid for it is really beside the point. The image is still reinforcing the idea that women should be valued by their bodies. Her body is still being commodified, being used to sell a product (Squids in Chapel Hill), whether or not she wanted to be in the picture or not. And you also ignore the thousands of women who REALLY ARE coerced and exploited into posing and performing in front of a camera. The pornography and stripping industries are notorious for buying young women in Asia and Eastern Europe, for luring them with promises of stardom and then coercing them into continuing to stay in the business when they realize the promise was false. But I digress.
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