Feminism is the ideology for equality between men and women. Unfortunately, many people still don’t even know what feminism is and people are still fighting for equality.
What I personally find frustrating is people’s connotations of feminism, because people always think of man hating radical feminists. It’s highly likely that the majority of people who try to imagine what a feminist looks like, will think of someone who lives up to the stereotype of someone like Andrea Dworkin.
However there are so many different types of feminism, that include:
- Cultural/Post Colonial
- Social and Marxist
- I-feminism/New Wave
Feminist Catharine MacKinnon once stated: ‘to be sexually objectified means having a social meaning imposed on your being that defines you as to be sexually used, according to your desired uses, and then using you that way. Doing this is sex in the male system’ (1). This suggests that by sexually objectifying women, it contributes to sustaining a patriarchal society.
Within the media there is a lot of sexual objectification, mainly of women. However men are also objectified in some cases, depending on who the target audience is. I suppose sexual objectification works for media platforms due to the ideology of ‘sex sells’. This idea was first introduced by Edward Bernays, who theorised unconscious desires.
Bernays was the founder of the torches of freedom campaign, which encouraged women to smoke cigarettes. At the time of this campaign women in society were seen as prostitutes if they were seen smoking, therefore the number of women buying cigarettes was very low. Bernays helped the number of cigarette sales rise through propaganda, by making models parade down a street smoking to make it seem more attractive.
The above image sums up the sexual objectification of women in the media. This is an advertisement for Stuart Weitzman Shoes. In most of their advertisements, they sexualise models by making them reveal a lot of their bodies. I can kind of understand why they advertise their shoes in this way, because it presents consumers with the idea (connotations) that if you have these shoes then you are sexy. However, I don’t see the point in showing women who are completely naked and are only wearing shoes because the images don’t even draw you to their shoes.
When looking at newspapers, it’s clear who their target audiences are through the amount of sexually objectifying images. The Sun is the newspaper I instantly think of, due to their famous page 3’s with (what used to be) topless girls. And it’s not just the third pages of The Sun with degrading images on, they can be found on most pages which indicates to me that their target audience is working class men
Overall, as a feminist, I fear that sexual objectification will never be tackled in the journalistic world because it is a very patriarchal industry.
(1) Sexuality, Pornography, and Method: “Pleasure under Patriarchy” by Catherine A. MacKinnon. Jan., 1989. Published by The University of Chicago Press.