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Posts Tagged ‘sexualization’

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If you’re a Marvel fan – be it comics, movies, or television shows – and you’ve been active on the internet in the past few months, you may have noticed a new feminist phenomenon sweeping through your newsfeeds and dashboards. As you may have already read in this post about comic book women, breasts and bums are often the focus of entire panels and covers. The Hawkeye Initiative takes offense at that, and is fighting back, one illustration at a time.

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Images such as these pervade comic book character art. Women are normally in sexy, revealing outfits; and, their bodies are often doing some pretty impossible things. A blog called Boobs Don’t Work That Way brings awareness to how ridiculously women are portrayed in comic books. The picture of Wonder Woman displayed here is not unique. Attempting to make her sexier, she is drawn into this impossible pose where her breasts and behind are shown at the same time. Also, her breasts are extremely large, and there is no way that her costume could logically support them. The commentary on the blog regarding this picture is as follows:

“It always freaks me out when boobs are drawn as almost a separate entity. This one looks like it’s about to pop off and and start a solo career.”

Other interesting points the blogger makes include the way fabric unrealistically stretches over breasts in some costumes, suctioning itself to each breast individually, the fact that nipples rarely have areolas in comics, and that breasts are not always perky and perfectly spherical.

I find it interesting that beauty for women in comic books is literally impossible for us as humans. The beauty standard is completely unrealistic. Do comic book artists feel that women will not be sexy without their impossible breasts? Or do they enjoy creating a fantasy woman? I’m not personally sure which reason correctly demonstrate how artists feel, or if there are other reasons. The blog is not being updated, but the pictures and commentary are excellent. Check it out!

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So I’ll definitely put myself out there I am a virgin and I am 22 years old. And yes I am waiting till marriage. That being said I am tired of the, what seems to me, random depictions of virgins. In the movies usually the virgin is one prophetess or religious deity like in the movies Immortal and Conan the Barbarian. Or people in generally think that all virgins are prudish, stuck up, extra conservative, and hyper religious. It’s as if within the push for the feminist movement that means that have as much sex as you please and make the choice to have sex. What if you do not make that choice are you then against feminism. I thought the whole point of feminism is to respect women and the choices they make with their bodies (themselves). But more so it is lets show the men we can have as much sex as they can. I personally am not interested. It is as self there are two different secs the women who chose to wait and rock purity rings and the women who engage in sexual intercourse looking down on those that don’t. Of course I know that this goes both ways. But I feel as if women need to know that both options are viable and for this to happen sexual education needs to occur. Sex is everywhere and women are constantly being pressured to engage in something they might not be ready to yet. So where is the dialogue for those who want to wait and those who do not.

I think it is equally annoying to have certain body movements legitimatized by bodies who have sex and those that don’t. Just because I can wind and swirl my hips a certain way doesn’t then mean I have sex. Or if I can’t dance for anything doesn’t mean I am a prude. We create so many binary for ourselves that it is difficult to claim to be a feminist is daunting if as a part of that it means you have a body that participates in sexual intercourse. And to add on to that if you are any other ‘color’ than white your body is then hyper sexualized and expected to participate in sex. And if you are not that you are linked to being a prude. And fyi a prude means “a person who is excessively proper or modest in speech, conduct, dress, etc.” It comes from the french word meaning “worthy or respectable women”. But we take words and add our own derogation connotation to them and look down on the people that fit the altered rhetoric of the word. Lets change our words and connotations or words. In thus doing we change the frame of our world.

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Facebook is deleting personal pictures of Mom’s breastfeeding and calling them obscene.

Moms are being ordered to cover up in malls and Target if they are breastfeeding.

Isn’t breastfeeding what women are encouraged to do?  Hasn’t the healthy party line been to breastfeed for at least the first few months to build immunity in babies?  Some communities are encouraging women to breastfeed to help curb childhood obesity.  There are proven health benefits for both the child and mother.  So, women are being told to breastfeed on the one hand and then told they can’t do it anywhere but in their homes on the other.  If they want to breastfeed in public, they must hide themselves away in a bathroom.  How dare they offend anyone with the view of their children breastfeeding!

Maggie Gyllenhaal breastfeeding

Women spend their entire lives held up as sexual beings, as objects.  But where does that end when a woman becomes a mother and wants to breastfeed her child?  Hasn’t the image of “the mother” become one that is without sexuality?  Maybe breastfeeding blurs that line for some.  We see this attitude in breast cancer awareness campaigns crying to “Save the boobies!” as well.  Women’s worth is in their sexuality and if they use their breasts to feed their children (some might say the breasts most primal and “natural” purpose) they are being viewed under that same sexual gaze.  Is our society so sexually repressed (and obsessed) that we can’t separate breasts from being sexual objects?

Part of the British campaign to encourage breastfeeding

Many breastfeeding moms are taking to activism to try and bring awareness to the issue.  Recently on etsy, an innovative breastfeeding mom created a crocheted “boobie beanie.”  They can be made in any skin tone and nipple shade, to match your own.

The Boobie Beanie!

Other mom’s are holding “breastfeed-in’s,” at facebook’s corporate headquarters or at local malls.  Celebrities have also taken to the cause, breastfeeding in public and allowing the paparazzi to take pictures of them with their children.  In Britain, they even had a celebrity campaign to encourage breastfeeding.  Unfortunately, until we as a society can move past this constant sexualization of breasts, I fear things will still be difficult for breastfeeding mommies.

Mayim Bailik breastfeeding on the subway in NYC.

 

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Over the summer I was an intern in the gardens at an intentional community called Heathcote. Intentional communities are essentially communes but the members do not have a shared income or business, so the members have outside jobs.  I instantly felt at home with the members, a group of older radicals and hairy second-wave feminists. One Saturday evening  the community was hosting a hot tub party in their handmade cob hot tub that sits over a fire. Although I was not interested in getting in, considering it was the middle of the summer and extremely hot, I was interested in attending the party to enjoy some conversation and vegan marshmallows. The party was taking place about a 10 minute walk through the woods from where my room was. As I approached I started to notice something was odd, everyone in the hot tub was naked.         I was stunned. These people I had gotten to know so well through everyday interactions were now baring it all in front of me. Going into this internship I was not expecting to see my boss, the intern coordinator, naked. My own reaction to the nudity of the community members was surprising to me. I needed to analyze why I felt so uncomfortable about this.
My first thought was that I felt uncomfortable because no one has warned me in advance that clothing was optional, and perhaps they should have. But, what was the real reason for my discomfort? The human body itself is simply raw material, however it is also packed with meaning given by society. The body is sexualized; society has created a framework in which certain body parts are not to be shown to the public. Even in more enclosed and safe environments, like the one I was in, to many is thought to be eccentric. Sexualized body parts are labeled with words like “private” and are expected to stay that way unless that are being used for arousal.
Something many young people rarely see is a naked average-sized body, imperfections, cellulite, and all. When “plus-sized” women are shown in the media, like in the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty,  the images of the body are distorted with airbrushing, thus creating a false idea of what a “real” body looks like. Because of my instilled sexualized associations and my lack of experience in seeing what real naked bodies look like, my experience at the hot tub party was an awkward one.

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