Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Innocence is Sexier Than You Think

As Belle said in her presentation with Kings, objectification involves removing morality and humanity. According to Jean Kilbourne, dehumanization leads to violence...one thing we did not discuss very much/if at all during the presentation. "Innocence is sexier than you think" read one of the ads in Killing Us Softly 4. It both appalls and disgusts me that it is socially acceptable to eroticize violence to this degree and that there still is not adequate protection for sexual harassment/assault/violence victims in certain parts of the world (or even just this nation!) What I found particularly interesting in Kilbourne's analysis was the fact that when women are objectified, they are converted into vulnerable images, whereas men are converted into strong and powerful images. These images are easily distinguished with body language and artistic license: contraction, black and white filter, no face versus standing with a wide stance, an image with color and high saturation and eye contact. It's crazy to me that masculinity is consistently linked with violence and that a guy isn't "man enough" if he can't maintain his strength in a fight or something of the sort. It equally upsets me that femininity is devalued by the individual and cumulative society.

Along with this discussion of sexiness...I thought it was interesting and funny when Kilbourne pointed out the contradictions in "wants" of the male gaze. Especially the gaze of white, heterosexual males (sound familiar?) Sexy but innocent. Experienced but virginal. Yet women are often depicted in one of three ways as Belle told us: a sexual object, earth mother or virgin. Despite their beauty, women cannot do everything...and they especially cannot/will not do it for someone else! These unrealistic expectations for women lead to self questioning and issues of self esteem as Kings said, "Am I smart enough? Pretty enough?" etc. She also said that advertisements are especially effective because they are quick, cumulative and subconscious. We don't even immediately realize what messages we're taking in...but with 91% of cosmetic procedures (Killing Us Softly 4) being done on women, the effect is immense.

I realize my thoughts are all over the place, but I could write on each facet of this topic in great depth. My last immediate thought is about this coveted white, heterosexual male gaze. Winners and white people, but not women. So much of our society is built on this foundation of praising and honoring white men over any one else...And the majority of the time, the privileged patriarchy does not even recognize its privilege! There is not a week that goes by where I read/hear/see an insensitive comment made by a white man who needs to check his own privilege. If someone were to ask me for a solution to the problems I've enumerated...and the hundreds which stem off of these topics, the first step would to be to check privilege and acknowledge bias. Not everyone can empathize with everyone and that's because of our innate differences. The only way to combat these problems is to understand that we all come from different places, and how the problem individually effects us as an individual or a people determines the value of our say towards a solution.

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