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Posts Tagged ‘objectification’

hey ppl!!!!!!!!!!! it’s may!! may is upon us! and the last post was in feb. woah.

looka this: slutwalk

in other news, i used to be this awesome person. WHAT HAPPENED??!??! i have a super corporate jobbbbbb wowowow. and i feel like i can’t even call myself a feminist because i don’t think about feminism. or anything. i, like, struggle to have thoughts about anything. yesterday went to a used sorta radical-benty bookstore w/ bejai and realized there was not a single topic in which i was interested. yikes…

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Or, alternatively titled: “Making the Brown Sex Week 2010 Poster”

(This is a cross-post from the SHEEC blog/my blog)

My goals were that the poster:

  • Wouldn’t imply a certain relationship status
  • Wouldn’t be objectifying and just like any other ad on TV
  • Wouldn’t be heteronormative (and ideally not homonormative, either, which is…not easy to do–most images out there are very either/or)
  • Would simultaneously bring something “non-traditional” to the fore but NOT in a “LOOK HOW RADICAL I AM!” way or in a “LOOK HOW FREAKY THIS IS!” way
  • Would focus on sexuality and sensuality, but in a fun, not intimidating, fashion
  • Re: above, would also not be too explicit or obviously and “traditionally” sexual, so that it could have more interpretations (including “platonic” ones?)
  • Would reflect an air of inclusiveness
  • Would not represent people from just one ethnic group (and this was the hardest to achieve while still trying to keep to the other points; I resolved this issue by making the skin tones a rainbow)
  • Would not glorify a particular body type, especially one that corresponds to the dominant ideas of beauty in the media
  • Would be welcoming and attractive
  • Would hold all the text necessary!

The RESULT:

Thoughts?

Do you encounter similar situations when you have to do the promotional material for events? How do you feel about the world of advertising/promo in college and/or specifically at your institution of “higher learning”?

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Everyone seems to be talking about Crystal Renn these days. The New York Times claims she’s “The Triumph of the Size 12s.” Jezebel says she’s not. And commenters think that having Crystal Renn in 8 page photoshoots is encouraging obesity. So here’s my take.

Photographers and Designers told Crystal Renn she was too fat, now they tell her she’s too skinny. I don’t understand why we feel the need to regulate Crystal Renn’s weight. If they’re looking for a different look, why not find a different person? People are constantly surprised that Crystal Renn doesn’t look fat, but why are we so surprised? According to the measurements I’ve found on the internet it would appear Renn’s BMI puts her in the “normal range” not “overweight” and no not “obese” and no not “morbidly obese,” and we already know BMI is kinda bullshit. So what’s with this freak-out-she’s-encouraging-obesity bullshit?

This to me speaks a lot to the way we think about fat. We tend to think in extremely polarized terms. A person is either fat and thus lazy, ugly, gross, insert-negative-adjective-here, or they are not fat, and thus not those things. This to me is pretty apparent in how clothes are organized. I’m an in-betweenie of sorts on the fat spectrum of clothing sizes. I can range anywhere from a 12 to a 16, depending on the make and cut and what part of my body we are fitting. What’s interesting of course is that the 12s are sold in “normal stores” and the 16s are sold in “plus size stores.”  The clothes that are sold in a size 12 are still flattering, they’re “in,” but the second you get into the 16s you go to ponchos and moo-moos and weird drape-y things in horrible giant prints. I don’t really understand why designers seem to give up the second you get above a 14. Folks just need an inch here or there, and excuse me for being so blunt by why the hell is 14 the size in between “normal clothes” and “plus size clothes” when that is the size the average American woman wears? 14 should be the size we design all clothes around and should be the samples runway models wear–not supposed “plus size models.”

Another thing I’m sort of disturbed by is this whole sexualization and fetishization over the white skin of some “plus sized” models like in Renn’s 8 page spread in Glamour, “You’d Look Even Better Naked” or in the recent “plus size issue” of V magazine. I don’t claim to know why plus size models always have to have white skin and lose their clothes for their photoshoots, but it’s making me wonder. Jezebel tries to put a finger on it in their “So, Why Are Plus-Size Models So Often Naked, Anyway?

…This is as good a time as any to address the fact that a large number of plus-size shoots feature nudity. Of course, so do many fashion shoots with straight-size models: but because as a culture we associate larger women’s bodies with different meanings than smaller women’s bodies, photographing a plus-size model naked can have very different connotations. Eroticizing a plus-size model is a pretty easy, and in some ways predictable, choice. Do the images rely on the old trope of the voluptuous woman as sexually salacious? Is it just that the stylist couldn’t (or couldn’t be bothered) to pull clothes in the right sizes?

Personally, I’m guessing there are probably many reasons for this focus on naked white plus size models. One is that I don’t think there are enough awesome clothes made and sold for women of a certain size for which the models can model which I’ve already addressed. And secondly, I think when we add the fact that these women are larger than most models, I think photographers don’t know what to do. We’ve already polarized folks into fat and not fat, good and not good. So inorder to demonstrate that “hey she’s not all those bad things we associate with fat”, they rely more heavily on her female-ness, and her white-ness. Instead of showing actual diverse images of beauty, we just amp up old ideas of about Snow White being the fairest lady of them all who spends her life waiting for strange men in the woods.

If you’re looking for actual diversity in fashion, check out the fatshionista community which describes itself as ” a diverse fat-positive, anti-racist, disabled-friendly, multi-gendered, queer-flavored, politically-engaged community, open to everyone” They’re pretty rad and frankly more useful than any fashion mag I’ve ever seen since it’s real clothes worn by real folks.

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'cuz corsets have everything to do with animal rights

Peta did it again. For those who can’t read the fine print, this ad is apparently advertising for “Animal Birth Control”–so simple even playboy cover-girl Dita Von Teese understands how sexy it is. I’m all for preventing deaths of dogs and cats in shelters, but I don’t understand why we need to objectify women to explain why it’s important to do so.

Here’s my list of issues with this ad campaign:

1. Just generally, what do playboy cover-girls have to do with animal rights?

2. Why glorify this completely irrelevant image of a school girl and professor. Why does female education have to become sexualized? When was the last time you wore stilettos and corset thing to class? When was the last time an adult woman opened up a book with the cover of “ABC”. Oh, and it’s heteronormative.

3. What’s with this call back to ’50s fashion? This is a bigger problem than just this ad, but I get kinda creeped out over this fetish for the 1950s white housewives in big polka dot dresses, and bubblegum pink.

4. If you watch the video on the site, in between/during all of Dita Von Teese’s talking about pets, we see her getting her picture taken in various poses. Are we supposed to be listening to her, considering her voice to be important? Or are we just supposed to be drooling at her body? oi.

5. Oh and what a boring typical idea of sexy. Way to perpetuate stereotypical ideas of beauty with body size, race, and gender. woot.

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PETA Save the Whales Obesity Billboard

Dear PETA:

Sometimes you have pretty cool campaigns.

Sometimes you miss the mark entirely and produce crap like this.

I don’t know who thought “YES, this is a great idea! Let’s use one of the most derogatory words for fat women and put it on a HUGE billboard and imply that women are whales that need to be saved from their gross obesity through vegetarianism (because only meat-eating women are obese)! This will entice people to become vegetarians! GENIUS!”

No. You fail.

And “trying to hide your thunder thighs and balloon belly is no day at the beach”?

Really? Really, PETA?

I’m not even going to go into their implications that ceasing consumption of meat equal healthiness (because that’s just not true) and that the differences between skinny/fat and vegetarian/omnivore are all caused by the meat or lack thereof in people’s diets. Jeez.

————–

PETA’s press release:

Jacksonville, Fla. — A new PETA billboard campaign that was just launched in Jacksonville reminds people who are struggling to lose weight — and who want to have enough energy to chase a beach ball — that going vegetarian can be an effective way to shed those extra pounds that keep them from looking good in a bikini. The ad shows a woman whose “blubber” is spilling over the sides of her swimsuit bottom and features the tagline “Save the Whales. Lose the Blubber: Go Vegetarian. PETA.”

Anyone wishing to achieve a hot “beach bod” is reminded that studies show that vegetarians are, on average, about 10 to 20 pounds lighter than meat-eaters. The meat habit can ruin the fun in other ways too. Consuming meat and dairy products is conclusively linked to heart disease, diabetes, and several kinds of cancer — not to mention higher rates of infertility in women and impotence in men. And not only is following a healthy plant-based diet good for the environment, it is also the best thing that anyone can do to help stop the routine abuse of animals raised and killed for food. Animals on factory farms are subjected to mutilations like debeaking, tail-docking, and branding (without any painkillers) and are often slaughtered and dismembered while still conscious.

“Trying to hide your thunder thighs and balloon belly is no day at the beach,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA has a free ‘Vegetarian Starter Kit’ for people who want to lose pounds while eating as much as they like.

This makes me cry inside. Actually, it mostly just really fucking pisses me off because this body-shaming shit really needs to stop. Implying fat women are whales and that they’re covered in blubber and just…augh! I’m tired of people producing trash like this, especially after hearing stories (or witnessing them) about women whose in-laws didn’t accept them and even tried to sabotage their marriage because they (the women) were obese and “unworthy of [the in-laws’] son.” I’m tired of seeing girls whose diaries constantly talk about their weight and how they need to lose 20 pounds NO MATTER WHAT THEIR ACTUAL WEIGHT. I’m tired of the food-diaries with “today I ate 10 grapes, 2 Fig-Newtons, and a Jell-O cup.” I’m tired of the girls who are unhappy because they never manage to be “skinny.” I’m tired of people talking SHIT about others because they’re fat, speaking like they have a right to insult them just because of their weight and body shape. It’s not fucking okay.

And I realize all these examples were female-oriented, and I acknowledge that obesity and body-shame affect everyone to some degree, but I’m just speaking for myself and what I’ve been seeing lately. And, to clarify, I’m not tired that these situations exist–more like the REASONS WHY they exist. I’m not blaming the victims of fatphobia. The opposite, actually. I’m tired that people are made to feel unworthy, unlovable, unattractive, and ashamed. THAT’S why I’m tired of seeing these situations repeat themselves constantly.

I originally posted this on my personal blog, but everything after the PETA press-release is new text. This ranting is a result of looking through my journals from when I was younger (1996-2003) and being appalled at how much I mentioned weight. I spoke to a friend about it and she had the same issue, but a hundred times worse. I at least was fairly happy with myself most of the time? Ugh. I’ll probably post about the “findings” from reading all these journals. They’re really weird, considering the person I am now.

Anyway. I blogged more extensively about my thoughts on PETA and their advertising campaigns. Feel free to check it out here and comment if you wish. I posted this entry because it was much shorter and less pic-spammy than the one I’m directing you towards. ^_^

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twixThank God for Mars Candy!  Their commercials have really tapped into an emerging social problem: women with self respect.  More and more women are attempting to engage with men about political issues.  Don’t they know how detrimental this is to their attractiveness? And when a man suggests, very reasonably, that they should shut those moving dick depositories and scoot on over to his place, they ACTUALLY take offense!  Luckily, Mars is teaching men how to handle these spunky gals with their Twix commercials:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yePKUKcWCeU&feature=related

Because Mars knows that behind every female intellectual there’s a dumb broad, waiting, even wanting, to be fooled by  your false enthusiasm.

Now I know what the fellas are thinking.  “But Mars–what if she catches in a blatant act of womanizing?”  No worries!  You see, women are like dogs.  They respond more to tone than to human logic.  If she catches you reading a misogynistic book, simply make a disapproving face.  The fact that she JUST SAW YOU READING IT AND SMILING won’t tip her off and she’ll immediately fall for you.  Because,  women, you see, want men to fuck them by DEFAULT.  If she doesn’t hate you, you can bet that she wants your body:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyBGRhbdfsU

But don’t think Mars is indifferent to female suffering.  No!  Mars created Twix to protect you from your greatest insecurity…your ass:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8eR4mDKH_c

Is it mean to lie to women?  To trick them into sleeping with you with false sensitivity? With false interest?  Well…yes.  But of course you’ll still do it.  You are a man aren’t you?

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Sexist Lionso today i went on a walk. i was dressed in a long flowy patterned skirt, a black tank top, flip flops, a long necklace made of shells, two rings, and a bracelet, with my hair in a long braid. FYI my skin is brown and my hair is black and people say that i look “indian” whatever that means. im 5’4″. and i have a long-term boyfriend (which is relevant to this story) and i love him and he is super nice and devoted to me and he is a feminist and he is like one of the few men in the world im comfortable being around.

so on my way home from my walk, i was sweating up a storm because it was hot and humid outside. but i must have looked approachable despite my eclectic appearance, for this 40-something man comes up to me, 15 feet near my house (i hope he didn’t know that that was my house), and says, “hi, i saw you in tarrytown, and its nervous to talk to someone you dont know. and i just think you are really pretty, and you must be a nice person.”

at this point i was still flattered. i had seen this guy walking out of town as i walked into town. i dont remember if i smiled at him or just ignored him. i have this huge problem when i walk in populated places. i dont know where my eyes should go. first of all, im nearsighted, so its awkward to sqiunt at someone who might be someone i know. i dont remember though, if i had this problem since before i became nearsighted a few years ago. so i walk and walk, and there are plenty of people, walking around, or sitting around, or talking to each other. i dont know if it would be aggressive to look at them, and my natural impulse is to look at the ground a few feet ahead of me. it feels safer, since i dont know what people me to do with my eyes, atleast i wont have to watch them be awkward around my own awkwardness. but then, i feel like im being passive and submissive. so i try to look ahead of me at eye level, sometimes smiling at people with babies and pets, but usually not smiling because many people tend to look straight ahead of them and not smile back, and then i feel sheepish for having made the effort of smiling at them. also i worry, what if someone saw me smile at them and them not smiling back, and thought i was a fool?

damn, it sucks to be me? idk.

so i dont remember if this 40-something man, who has a mustache and beard, mostly black, peppered with some white, and misaligned teeth (not too bad, many people have misaligned teeth and they are not altogether unappealing to look at), maybe 5’7″, wearing a faded teal t-shirt and probably jeans and i think dark sneakers…was someone i smiled at the first time he saw me. probably i tried to look at him to send him the message that i wasnt afraid of him (even though i kinda was, im afraid of mainstream looking white people, as well as white men with a weird/cautious gait, which he had). but i tried and looked at the faces of many people i met, so that i wouldnt seem/feel scared of them.

so here i am, on my way back home, pretty much there already. the guy is walking towards me, as though he were on his own walk out of town and then was walking back into town. i looked at his face again and then diverted my eyes to look straight ahead in front of me as soon as i saw that he was nervously meeting my eye. do not want to get into a conversation with this stranger. he says, “hi, i saw you in tarrytown, and i just think you are really pretty, and you must be a nice person.” so i feel like he’s just being a nice person, like my friend alene, who says nice things like that randomly to people, and then is offended when theyre weirded out. i dont want to offend people who are random kind strangers. so i take off my headphones and i say, “oh thanks,” chuckling appreciatively. oh lord. i wish i hadnt. then he says, “if sometime, youre free, i would like to talk to you,” and im like oh shit i shouldnt have let my guard down, but im still optimistic that he means he wants to hang out as friends. im like maybe he just wants to meet someone to be friends with because maybe he is hopelessly depressed and suicidal and maybe a kind word from me would detract him (this reminds me of lucie’s stand-up comedy piece about a similar, though probably fictional situation). but theres a lot of weird tension and i think he is looking at my chest. so i go, “well that would be good, but i already kind of have a boyfriend, if that’s what you mean,” and he’s like “yeah, youre probably too young for me anyway,” and im like “yeah” (i wish really badly that i had said, “youre probably too old for me” dammit. i want to be more assertive and less “sure id totally fuck you, and ofc you can be on top obviously, if only it werent for my pesky boyfriend!” ew ew ew ew this is really grossing me out but thats how i feel, like i might as well have said that instead.)

and then he’s like “how old are you, twenties?” and im like “mhm,” cuz all this is happening too fast for me to formulate how im going to tell him to go fuck off, and he’s like “youre from india, right?” and im like “yeah” and he’s like “and your parents are from india?” and im like “yeah” and i feel really mad that i was so conciliatory and let him get away with asking me personal questions. he’s like “so are you religious in any way?” and im like “that’s a complicated question” and he’s like “yeah, i feel a real affinity with indian culture something blabla spiritual” and im like “mhm,” and he’s like “what’s your name” and this is what im most mad about, that i didnt say “ramona” which is my fake name for creepers who might be stalkers, and tell him what my real name is. and he goes “im jim” and he hands me his hand and i shake it and i ingratiatingly say “nice to meet you” because at this point the choice is between telling him off and potentially getting stalked/killed, or being nice to him and hoping he doesnt bother me anymore due to the nice impression i left on him, at least in my mind anyway. im afraid of this guy and i hope he lets me leave this conversation soon. and then he’s like “have a nice day” and im like “you have a nice day too and thanks for saying those nice things about me, im sure youre a nice person too” and then he walks off in the direction he came from. and im like did he walk all the way back from his walk towards the other direction, to say this to me???? so instead of walking straight to my house i kinda make a little detour and then walk to my house, looking behind me in case he wants to know where i live, and he’s not there so i go home.

well, fuck. was this guy a total creeper? ofc he embodies everything i hate about male-dominated rape culture, he intrudes into my life, probably because he feels (rightly) that i wont tell him to fuck off because im this passive indian woman who is wearing flowy south-asian inspired clothes and jewelry, and he thinks he has the right to comment on what i look like and what kind of person i must be (“a nice person”) and then he asks me out even though that is inappropriate because he is more than twice my age.

so how much should one be scared of a person like this? in general, im scared of most males, even if they dont do anything wrong to me, because i always feel like if things came to a certain climax, they would be mean to me and do something wrong to me. and this is not paranoia, because this is the pattern that has led to much of my alienation with males to begin with, even my little brother, who is not so little anymore. and plus so many of my female friends have to deal with patriarchal bullshit but feel like they cant say anything and then they continue to be kind, though maybe the slightest bit more distant, with these male friends who have hurt them. because women are taught to be graceful about being insulted or intruded upon or used or abused.

fuck this shit. i want to scream through a loudspeaker. i dont want to be graceful or elegant like i was with this man, sad and weird though he might have been. even someone so meek-looking and non-mainstream like him has the ability to make me worried about what he is going to do to me. not to mention his abhorrent rudeness and assumptions about my culture, life, family, religion, and personality. he thinks he has me figured out. he tricks me into shaking his hand. he leaves me unsettled about whether he knows where i live and whether he is going to follow me in the future or if he has already followed me to the point where we talked today. he tricks me into being nice to him when im actually afraid and want to back out of this conversation. im glad though that he turned around and left, instead of waiting for me to leave. though i dont think he understood to extent to which he had been making me uncomfortable. and even though he was somewhat courteous about it, nothing like “you have a hot body” or anything so overt as “i love indian women, they are so exotic, like you!”, everything he said amounts to the expression of a feeling of entitlement to talk to me, to know about me, to ask me out.

ew. im home safe and i took a shower. now im wearing men’s clothes. i feel better about this relatively small event. but i remain worried about the bigger implications of all this. and i worry that he lives in this town and i worry that my rejection made him feel bad and i worry that he may be suicidal and i worry that he will look up my name and follow me around and possibly kill me, like that man who killed the wesleyan student who had rejected his advances.

damn.

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