One of the cornerstones of feminism is a woman’s freedom to choose. From the clothes she wears to the career she chooses to her sex life — the movement calls for her complete autonomy. Feminism retorts forcefully against people who slut-shame women for wearing revealing clothes. It also rejects the idea of demonizing women who choose, on their own, to cover up themselves.
But there is an opposing force that the patriarchy exhibits called objectification. It is in a constant tug-of-war with a woman’s autonomy, making sure that she is no longer a whole human being but parts to be used. Advertising has taken advantage of it; from hamburger commercials using scantily clad women in string bikinis to magazine covers of women wearing little to nothing, it is common knowledge that a woman’s body sells. And the media is well aware of that fact.
In response, many women get angry, and rightly so. It is not right for a woman to be seen as an object in the media while men are seen as whole people. And nearly every time a woman is seen in the media wearing little to nothing and/or contorting her body in ways that are suggestive, we feminists cry objectification.
But, lately, I have been considering women in the entertainment industry, the ones whose performances are not limited to a stage or a movie screen; their modeling work is found in advertising and magazines. A lot of these performers channel their sexual energy in their profession, owning it unapologetically and encouraging other women to do the same. A couple of female artists that come to mind are Beyoncé and Rihanna and when they are on stage, many women praise them for exercising their autonomy. But once they grace magazines in a similar manner, we say that they are being objectified. There are also models who enjoy their jobs and when we find them in magazines, in advertising, or in any form of media wearing little clothing and posing provocatively, we say they are also being objectified.
And that got me thinking…