Objectification of women still exists


Leah Nash/The Cougar

Women continue to be the focus of sexual objectification in our society, and have been for hundreds of years, despite advances of equality between the sexes.

And it’s not just men that are objectifying women, women do it as well.

Throughout history, cultural stereotypes about men and women have placed an important role in shaping scientific theories, which ultimately led to how our society views women today.

“Sexual objectification is not just about lust, is also about assigning roles expecting to be performed by the individual,” said Women Studies Professor and doctoral candidate Maira Alvarez.“It is ‘normal’ to see women worrying about looking sexy, beautiful, attractive or pretty, and there is nothing wrong with looking and feeling your best. The problem is when this is done as an expectation from our patriarchal society.”

The media trains women to focus on their ‘problem areas’ which divides them into pieces, and encourages them to try to obtain the ideal image.

They would have society believe in the illusion of a flawless woman with no blemishes, scars, wrinkles, or anything but perfection.

“I recently cut my hair extremely short and some family members disapprove of it because I didn’t look like a ‘woman,’ which made me laugh so hard,” said Alvarez. “Because I am a woman, I should look a certain way, behave a certain way in order to attract men, I have to look sexy and not give the ‘wrong’ impression.”

Sexual objectification can negatively influence women’s mental health. It causes self-sexualization and is linked to body shame, eating disorders and psychological disorders.

Women learn from a very young age that beauty is important. They grow to see these “perfect” women in ads and feel like they have to compete with those standards.

“As a professor, I often hear female students worrying about their appearance or apologizing for giving their point of view or for expressing negatively about men,” said Alvarez. “Most of the time my female students will feel insecure about their academic performance, something I don’t see as much in my male students.”

Because our society objectifies women in virtually every aspect, we can’t expect to see any kind of change in ideology soon. There are many power structures and modes of institutional oppression that defy change.

Every person needs to educate themselves and others about sexual objectification. Women must learn to accept who they are and not punish themselves for not fulfilling the unreachable standards society holds for them every day.

Young generations need to learn about respect and equality more than anyone else, because we are the ones who can make a change. We are the future society that can generate a movement.

Gender inequality, sexual objectification and sexist attitudes should be a remnant of the past. A person’s worth, to any extent or dimension, should not be determined by their physical being.

Opinion columnist Rebekah Barquero is a print journalism sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]

1 Comment

  • As much as I agree with the points that society and media objectify women, I don’t agree with the notion that it’s (individual) men so much that do the objectifying like the cartoon featured with this article would have you believe.
    Yes, societal standards do maintain this degree of what a woman should be like just like it tells us how men should act or how people should act in general to be perceived as “normal”. How you decide to subscribe to that is well within your own prerogative, and I applaud anyone who chooses to exist outside of those perceptions.
    Where I believe people have failed to place blame are the people who try to shove what is “beautiful” down women’s throats: Makeup, fashion, hair product, etc.; the very industry that stands to profit from ensuring women insecurities. Deny that industry what it is trying to sell you, try your natural look, and I bet you would see a large surge in women’s self-perception and perhaps a rise in women in power for that matter.
    That being said, don’t think I’m blind to misogyny. I know it exists, but I don’t believe it’s as prevalent as one would think.
    On a final note, the Run-Like-A-Girl Campaign from Always is a perfect frame of reference for what I’m talking about in regards to society’s effect on women. If you missed their commercial during the Superbowl earlier this year I would definitely recommend it. Powerful stuff. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/02/always-super-bowl-ad_n_6598328.html

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