Written by Perry Pokharel
You see it literally everywhere…magazines, billboards, TV ads, online stores. The female body has become one of the most highly sought after marketing ploys used by businesses. You would think that with all of this exposure, people would be desensitized to it, but everybody is still profiting from the sexualization of a woman’s body.
Growing up as a female, I thought it was normal for girls to be seen as “eye candy.” Nobody said it to me straight up, but it was just an unspoken norm that women were known more for their looks than men were. For females, it wasn’t abnormal to have somebody point out their body or for it to be the center of attention (even when the woman didn’t want it to be.)
Especially in advertisements, women’s bodies are hyper-sexualized to sell cars, clothes, food, you name it. One of the most well known examples of this is from American Apparel a few years ago. They sold lots of clothes marketed towards all genders, but for females, the picture on the website was very provocative, while the male picture was simple and clearly showed the item being sold. The focus was on the clothes, not the body. I have yet to see a man portrayed in the same way that women are for these things.
Even among celebrities, women magazine covers all the time for having a “nip-slip” or “showing too much cleavage.” But can you name a time where a man would be talked about in the same way? Simply put, sex sells, but it is at the price of females who want to be seen as simply people—not a pair of legs or a nice butt.
Why is this worth talking about? Well, when you live in a society where you see women as purely sexual beings, you start to think of them them not as an actual person, but instead as a body. This can contribute to rape culture or slut shaming, because if a female were to act a certain way or wear certain clothes, they would get shamed or even disregarded as a rape/sexual assault victim. In reality, the woman was doing nothing wrong by showing a part of herself, but because society sees the female body as overly sexual, she is deemed a “slut”. Her abuse is now her own fault.
The classic lines, “What were you wearing” and “You were asking for it” are far too common and a result of treating women as sexual beings. This also prevents females from being taken seriously in the workforce or school. Debrahlee Lorenzana is a woman who was employed by a company that later fired her because her body was “too distracting” for co-workers. Before that, she was given her own dress code to make her “less sexy.” This company sexualized her body to the point where they couldn’t even put their attention to her work. Debrahlee’s story is sadly not very uncommon. Just because it’s the norm does not mean it is okay. Sexualization of the female body is a real issue that has real consequences faced by real women.