Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On Media, Heterosexism, Misogyny, Racism, and Men's Willful Refusal To Get What Women Experience Daily

image is from here

The image above, and several others: racist, heterosexist, as well as grossly hostile to women, have been discussed for a while at the blog Sociological Images. I was part of a discussion there months ago. And recently some fellow named Lawrence has shown up to offer up one of the more inane and preDICKtable replies to viewing such images as the one above.

He really doesn't get it at all (or, well, he does but is just pretending not to get it) about why men objectifying women is different than women objectifying men--if we're going to even pretend such things happen "equally". For the whole ugly truth, see *here*.

A reply I posted a while ago is this analysis of the image above and others like it. I have edited it a bit, for clarity. Below that is Lawrence's recent comment and my response to him.

Julian 10:18 am on April 19, 2010 | # | Reply

First, if you’re not among the ten to eleven million who have seen this, I welcome you to see this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U (or just Google “Dove Evolution video”)

No matter how thin, no woman wakes up in the morning computer-digitally altered.

I’ll add that these ads perpetuate the most vile forms of contempt for certain “other” women. AS IF women are all extremely pale, thin, young, and very tall. This particular body type, where it does occur “in nature” occurs in Europe among a very few Caucasians. Not commonly in Asia–and Asia goes from China to Indonesia, and from the “Middle East” to Japan! Not so much in Indigenous populations in Asia and the Americas. Not in any part of Africa, unless among a few whites descendants of colonists. And, in case no one has noticed, the Americas, the UK, and Australia, and other places where Elle magazine and Vogue magazine are sold and distributed [--in many cities across the globe] mostly people who [have none] of those attributes live there, including NYC, London, and Perth.

Yes, Laura. I totally agree. Why don’t we men organise and not just speak up when it seems “the women are ignoring our pain”? Why don’t men speak out against what pornographers do to men, what pimps do to males of various ages, and advertising execs get rich doing to mostly white people that negatively impacts all people?

“The fairer” sex also means whiter/lighter, as in “mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all”. (Answer: Snow White… get the racism?) Fair-skinned is allegedly “better” than dark-skinned. So racism against women runs all through these images. And that is horrendously marginalising and alienating to women of color, to non-superthin women, to older women, and one other category as well… can you guess which category?

The “type” of woman that rarely gets discussed when discussing ads about women, and is never seen in media at all, unless to denigrate her terribly, is butch women, non-femme women. These magazines won’t go near any woman who isn’t ultra-femme to the point of having to be painted from head to toe, because NO women look like the women above, ever. (See that famous “Dove Ad” on YouTube to know what I mean, linked to above in this comment.)

So that one man, as mentioned, could be gay, but the women only exist for/draped on the men to do with as they please. They are Barbie dolls. Is he HER accessory, or is she HIS? (Hmmmm: is there a “gay” inference: do naked white-but-tanned men play with Barbie dolls?)

@Matt: almost no white men have hairless upper bodies AND hairy lower bodies. Possibly some “Aryan”/Nordic men. So you do, and another .001 percent of the population. But “nature” doesn’t work that way for most of us, and men’s chests are now moving back towards being hairy on television, which means those actors won’t have to have that hair ripped or shaved off.

If you sense agitation in my posts, it’s because I hear from the people who are profoundly negatively impacted by this and other media. The women and men who believe women are “undesirable” and “ugly” and “ought to stay inside” if they don’t have stick-legs, are not “pretty” as defined by pimps and cosmetics companies, and “fairest of them all”. The lesbian women who never see their desire, their aesthetics, depicted anywhere. Even depictions of “lesbianism” in dominant media is “for heterosexual men” to “enjoy”. Ugh.

These women, above, and men, only exist in relation to one another. For each other. Lesbians and gay men exist too, and we don’t all look like the people in the images above. And NO Black man looks like that polished ebony form above. (Not even him.) If you don’t see the harm, just breathe in the pain and suffering caused by these and all the other images shoved at us 24/7. Feel that pain. Of raw throats from vomiting several times a day. Of not having a clear mind and strong body due to self-starvation for one to twenty years. Of all the girls who don’t have, as Toni Morrison wrote, “The Bluest Eye”.

For my response to Lawrence, read on...


Lawrence 7:37 pm on February 7, 2011 | # | Reply

I agree. women constantly whine about objectification and then insult us and call us immature if we point out their double standard. You cant watch a TV show or movie without all these athletic cut 20 something guys losing their shirts and many times even more. We have had a push of show showing male genitalia and they have been rated down to R. Show a woman’s pubic hair and you automatically get a NC-17, and you haven’t even shown her genitals. And then we get all these experts saying, “a flacid male organ is not erotic”. So, its still indecent and should garner the same treatment as female genitals. The beefcake in ads has gone way over the top and they know it. Women just want to have their beefcake and eat it too.

  • JPLee 12:28 am on February 8, 2011 | # | Reply

    Yes, we all have to contend with exceptionally hot (and touched up) people on TV. But at the same time…..now you know how we feel!

    Women are still objectified far more often than men (just going by the ads I see everyday). And only recently has the number of scantily dressed people in the media started to even out among the two genders…….I have to wonder why you are so pissed, when it is really just an eye for an eye.
    You really have to consider the long history of women being objectified before you can complain about things not being fair.

    PS. Who the hell are these experts telling us what to find erotic? I think we can figure these things out for ourselves. :P

  • Julian Real 1:26 am on February 8, 2011 | # | Reply

    @Lawrence – You seem not to grasp a very basic truth: that the men objectified are still valued for being powerful; the women objectified are valued for being weak. Why? Because however much men are objectified–including the objectification of white rich men as “wealth objects”, wealth, power, control, and force still remains in the hands of white men in the US. There’s no level playing field onto which such images fall. The field is land-mined against women of all colors in ways it never has been for men. It is land-mined against all people of color in ways it never has been for whites.
    If you want to narrow the gaze myopically to this issue of how people are presented in some print ads, that’s your myopic choice. In the real world, however, those images are part of a larger pattern of very threatening and horrific realities which, I would imagine–correct me if I’m wrong–you’ve not had the displeasure to be terrorised by, such as men following you as you walk to a bus station or train stop, or to your car; men pulling their cars over asking you to get inside; men harassing you on the street or at work; men feeling entitled to rape you at home, or to batter your face until bones are broken, or to batter your belly if it carries a fetus; grown men sexually abusing, trafficking, and enslaving thin girls–by the millions. I’ll wager you don’t register these horrors and terrors as “real” at all. And so you can pretend we are only discussing “a few images in some magazines”. You are quite privileged to be able to not make any more connections than that. This is to say, your privilege is showing.