We’re Kidding Ourselves: Self-Objectification is not Self-Empowerment

WGS 2225: Women in Popular Culture

by Giselle Hengst

The line between whether representations of female sexuality in the media amount to female empowerment or objectification is a blurry one. There is a very real need for normalizing displays of women’s sexuality, yet a lot of images in the media that claim to do so heavily cater to the male pornographic gaze. This creates a paradox wherein it is easy to condemn any representation of female sexuality as a product of the male pornographic gaze. It’s easy to feel as though this oppressive conundrum has no solution. One solution supported by liberal feminists is that we should disregard the concept of the male gaze, otherwise it would be impossible to ever represent female sexuality.

However, just because we choose to participate in a dominating system doesn’t mean it ceases to be oppressive. In the words of Black feminist thinker Audre Lorde, “the master’s tools will never…

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“You’re showing too much skin”

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Vedika's blog

How many times have you been told that you’re showing “too much skin”? Or that your outfit is “too deep”? Or “too revealing”? Or how many times have you been told that “people will see you like this, it’s inappropriate”? Or that “it’s only for me to see”? Or how many times have you been asked “who are you dressing up sexy for”? As if being attractive is a bad thing. As if being with someone implies that you can’t look hot in public.
I’m not actually a proud supporter of the #freethenipple “movement” (which is banned by instagram by the way). I’m not suggesting that topless pictures or “inappropriate”, in your words, are a breakthrough towards feminism.
Feminism is about letting women comfortable in their own way without sexualizing them from head to toe.
Feminism is about knowing that you deserve respect and you don’t need to ask for…

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