Sexualizing women’s bodies is the bread and butter of most American media and commercial advertising. No, really.
Sexual objectification is complex, but usually detectable through these seven signs:
1. The image only shows parts of a (sexualized) person’s body
2. Sexualized person presented as “stand in” for an object
3. Sexualized person shown as interchangeable with other(s)
4. Image affirms the sexiness of violating the body of someone who cannot consent
5. Sexual availability is the defining characteristic of a person (emphasis mine)
6. Sexualized person is shown as a commodity – something that can be bought or sold
7. Sexualized body used as a canvas
(Activity: go through any magazine, and you’ll see 99% of it is sexualized bodies, mostly female bodies. I dare you.)
Pregnant bodies are traditionally viewed as “other“, as un-sexual, as something we must not find sexy. This is also a reasoning used to scorn and degrade fat bodies; the only two kinds of bodies we’re not allowed to find sexy are big and bigger.
A fascinating study from a few years ago posits this position comes out of a fundamental rejection of female bodies taking up too much space – to be feminine is to be small, delicate, chaste, virginal, juvenile. Plus, pregnant women are women who have (gasp) had sex, obviously, which is also a rebellious act. We looooooove small, skinny, wealthy white women – just look at celebrity magazines touting easy ways to lose your baby weight FAST, showing (white, rich) women whose only weight is in their belly. The fuck?
Whatever your feelings toward pregnancy, I’m confident we can agree about the overarching sexualization of women and girls has negative effects on our culture (and produces lazy, shitty music and media). With this in mind, I present this balls-awful Joe Boxer ad I saw yesterday (I don’t watch a lot of TV, don’t judge).
What the fuck is this shit? You’re sexualizing female pregnancy to sell me a shitty pair of pajama pants?
Women have a right to feel however they want in whatever bodies they have. The media needs to stop telling us what to do and how to do it. STOP!