Writing 121, Group ____
November 26, 2013
Women as Ornaments
Women have spent decades trying to become men’s equal in the United States, instead of being treated as objects. Now, the emphasis that our society has placed on appearance and body image has women yearning to be the prettiest, sexiest ‘objects’ around. As women look around in the world today, it is hard not to see advertisements or videos that suggest ‘beauty is everything’. The media is constantly turning attention onto young women with make-up caked faces and, even sometimes, underweight, unhealthy bodies. Esquire editor Alex Bilmes stated at a panel discussion on feminism “One of the things men like is a picture of pretty girls. So we provide them with pictures of pretty girls. And those pretty girls, for that purpose, are ornamental.” (Hamilton) While many people may not necessarily agree with Mr. Bilmes in those exact words, everyday thoughts and pictures that relate the terms ‘women’ and ‘object’ have probably been connected in their minds more than once, which only normalizes women in the role as objects. However, not only do the media and men constantly portray and think of women as objects, women themselves have come to objectify the female body as well. The media seems to be an almost infinite entity that surrounds you wherever you are to go, which is why many people feel the media may have a negative influence (on all types of people) concerning body image and beauty, especially with women. In even the shortest of advertisements or announcements, the media has the capability to send subliminal messages out into the public without the consumers even realizing they are taking in such information into their brains. With this ability, the media can generate ideas and seeds of doubt with a flick of a switch, or destroy a woman’s self-confidence with a word or phrase. While consumers do fall victim to subliminal messaging, probably the most useful tools the media has are visual aids. Americans tend to feel as if television portrays real life (or at least, they wish it would), meaning it feels normal to the general public. As the media shows buff men and unhealthy and underweight women seemingly all the time on screen, this becomes normal to the American public. Now, because women don’t want to feel singled out or the odd one out in any way, they feel it is necessary to become what they now perceive as being normal, no matter how unhealthy it may be. The media tends to show an unrealistic extreme of beauty; it does not show the average or healthy American woman, as it is not as attractive as the underweight supermodels and actresses that are currently airing. With this comes the consequence of the unrealistic expectation of a normal, healthy woman who now believes she must change to fit the ever slimming standard of beauty.
A large enough majority of men share the same mindset when it comes to women and beauty, which only further encourages the growth of this way of thinking throughout our entire society. Esquire editor Alex Bilmes sums up this mindset with three simple words: “Women are objects.” (Hamilton) While many men most likely do not share Mr. Bilmes’ views to this extreme, they most certainly support and encourage it through their actions, albeit subconsciously. Much of this support stems from the pornography industry, which idolizes women primarily as sex objects. Men are the most common customers when it comes to pornography (men at 72% of the customer base and women at 28%); therefore, men are the primary source of encouragement suggesting that women’s role should be as visually attractive objects. (Pornography Statistics) As men long to see women in real life look as the women do from their pornography, a new standard for beauty is slowly encouraged until it begins to normalize and feel natural to women. Mr. Bilmes also refers to women stating, “It’s a thing you might want to look at.” (Hamilton) Comments such as this...
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