Objectifying women leads to repression

By: Olivia Martin

The objectification of women, formally defined as treating women as commodities or objects without regard to their personality or dignity, is something that has been happening for a very long time. Dig just below the surface of the history you know or have learned in school and you will find that it is littered with examples.

For a time, images portrayed men and women in similar ways. However, this changed during the Renaissance. During the Renaissance, women began to be depicted in ways different than men. Their distinguishingly female characteristics were focused on more than before, and they were frontally positioned to satisfy the male gaze.

What began during the Renaissance in the 14th century has continued into present day. Too much value is placed on the female body, and even more so on what society believes to be the perfect body. Just pick up any People magazine, watch any advertisement for male deodorant or listen to music on the radio and you will be able to find examples. People magazine constantly has features judging female celebrities on “Who Wore It Best?” Male deodorant commercials use females to act as brainless bodies who are only there to praise a man for his great, musky smell. And, on the radio you can hear the first few lines in Maroon 5’s “This Summer’s Gonna Hurt,” which are “Her body’s hot/ Her body’s like the summer/ I’m in a trance or something/ Her mind is not.” Almost everywhere, we are bombarded with images and descriptions of female body parts, without recognizing that bodies come with brains.

I read a quote recently that really resonated with me:

It is illegal for women to go topless in most cities, yet you can buy a magazine of a woman without her top on at any 7-11 store. So, you can sell breasts, but you cannot wear breasts in America.

I think it explains our society’s problem with objectifying women: that we can sell women’s bodies for everyone to see, but when women try to take ownership of their bodies, they are not allowed to. Obviously, there is controversy about public nudity. However, the quote still makes a very valid point.

Reducing women to just their physical attributes can have severe consequences. By placing value on a woman or girl’s physicality instead of her mind and intelligence, she will learn to believe that the most important things about her are those attributes. This can lead to a multitude of terrible things. According to the American Psychological Association, objectifying women can cause women and girls to feel body shame, develop eating disorders, depression, and even sexual dysfunction. The worst effect, in my opinion, is when girls objectify other girls.

If we want to make women and girls feel comfortable in their own skins, and valued in society, then something has to change. There needs to be a grand realization that women and girls are not just a sum of their body parts. We should strive to create a society where women are represented as people who think and do, because there is so much more to people than only what can be seen from the outside.

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