Beyond ‘hot’ and ‘sexy’

Jacklyn Belo
Women are not just 'things' that are good to look at. A woman speaks out about the objectification of both women and men.

If you want to praise a woman, do not use ‘hot and sexy ‘ as a compliment.

Though these words function as positive adjectives, these are not the highest form of admiration for women. Words vary in meaning depending on social context and personal experience.

For me, “hot” is the word I read in Youtube comments when I see a woman taking off her clothes in a music video. When I think of “sexy,” my recent memory is a fan page, collecting photos of Filipino women with provocative poses.

With every photo posted in the wall comes a message: “If you want to see more nude photos of women, follow this link.”

As we embrace a sex-positive world and as we want more people to be aware with reproductive heath, we should also be concerned as how we use a woman’s body as a commodity.

There is nothing wrong with sex but what I find it very problematic is how often we associate women with sex and how much we give emphasis on body parts of women. Sadly, pop culture has been manufacturing women as objects of pleasure. (Read: I am not pretty for your pleasure)

 

Women for entertainment

When a female artist wants to increase her market value in the entertainment industry, she must be “sexy.” (Read: Defining a ‘woman’)

We describe a female artist mature enough when she can strip for a large audience. Most of the top-selling pop artists today have to shed some skin or do a bed scene. We listen to their songs inviting sex.

Let’s not pretend that it is all for cinematography or music sake. When the camera zooms into her breasts and moves down to her butt, this is not about music or artistry.

Women are creative. Dancers know how to be sensual without stripping.

We have to trust that a woman’s talent is enough for entertainment. And we have to assure women that they will be applauded for what they can do and not for how they look.

Instead of giving them inner confidence, we make their bodies vulnerable for evaluation.

OBJECTIFIED. Women are not just 'things' that are good to look at. Both women and men can fall victim to objectification. Graphic by Mara Mercado/Rappler.com, Laptop image from Shutterstock

Women as products

Our values are highly relative on how a woman should be but we can all reflect on how we portray men and women differently in media and advertising.

There are more advertising materials of sexy women compared to muscular men. We sell liquors, gadgets, fuel with barely clothed women but we don’t sell lipstick, ladies drink and perfume with topless men. 

Even if we insist that this can can show how proud women are, it can also also be sexist.

Men wearing suit and tie are displaying confidence. A male TV host wears a nice suit or a polo shirt while his backup dancers are almost wearing nothing.

This does not show gender equality.

False message of empowerment

A female body is beautiful with or without clothes.

There is no question that we should celebrate a woman’s body but it is not all about her body. We want women to be comfortable with their own skin, love their curves but we do not want them to be ornaments or toys.

The culture of objectifying women breeds a false message of empowerment. We don’t want to tell girls: “Be confident if you have big breasts, a bottle-shaped body or sex appeal.”

Instead, we should tell them: “Be confident if you are smart and have the ability to excel.”

Whatever confidence a woman gains from her natural attributes, it will be manifested outside.

As what they say if a man wants a woman for her thigh, legs, and breast, he probably wants a chicken value meal in a fast food chain, not a woman.

Superficial image of men

Aside from portraying women as objects, we are keeping a superficial image of men by describing them as consumers highly motivated by their sex drive.

Is that what we like men to be known for? Is that what all men want? No, we don’t but this is how we market products for men.

We can say that a man browsing a full length page of a nude woman is acceptable and harmless but it is not too different from a group of men observing a girl from a head to foot.

We don’t like catcalls.

We don’t want men to examine body parts of women like body parts of cars. We don’t want men to scan a woman’s body as if he is writing a product review.

Setting measurement for women

Objectifying women also sets measurements for women.

A woman’s body is constantly measured when she learns to wear bra, gains weight, attends a prom, and goes to the beach. Let’s not give additional measurement for her to worry about.

It is not healthy for her self-esteem to see a life-size image of women with protruding breasts, flawless skin, long legs and small waists.

Our society has already trained women to be body conscious. In effect, women already see their bodies as objects too which can be upgraded for a target market.

This is an old topic but it needs to be discussed as long as we see images that misrepresent women. It all boils down how we want women in our lives to be talked about. I don’t want my mother to be known as the woman with big breasts or wide hips for fertility.

I don’t want my sister to be loved for her body size. If I have a daughter, I will not let her aspire to be a marketing material for men.

If we treat every woman like members of our own household, we change how society looks at women.

Women are actors, singers, executives, scholars, entrepreneurs, farmers, storytellers and leaders. They are not just ‘things’ that are good to look at. A woman is not an item, a token, a reward, a fantasy, or a property. – Rappler.com

Jacklyn Belo works as a Client Services Executive in Financial Times Electronic Publishing. Visit her blog: jackiebelo.com.

Girl with laptop image from Shutterstock.