"Gender: To Be Determined" is collaborative, interactive blog brought to you by University of Denver students in Lindsey Feitz's "Introduction to Gender and Women's Studies" class.

If you are interested in gender, sexuality, and popular culture, this is the blog for you.

There's some incredibly smart, sassy, and saavy analyses that cover a range of topics we're discussing in class. Please feel free peruse our archive and join the conversation.

We'd love to hear your comments and questions!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The over sexualization of women, by women.(I)

"Girls realized that the only way to be taken seriously in their scenes was to make a ruckus of their own"(Girl, Unreconstructed Rachel Fudge). The issues that are seen in today's society is that women are still fighting for equal rights but using their sexuality to do so. Their idea of "making a ruckus" is to prove to men that they do have as much power as they do, by using their bodies. This idea contradicts all the "work" women have been doing since the first wave of feminism in 1848 began. Sexuality is a huge part of what defines a women. Our bodies have been seen as objects for men to use and objectify. Look at art in the late 1800s. Most impressionists painted naked women for the audience of the male gaze. The idea that all art was painted for the pleasure of men by men of women. Another example is restaurants like Hooters. The whole point is to use the women's bodies to sell food and drinks. Their job is to be sex objects to the people they serve. The reason I bring up these examples is because women let their sexuality get what they want. I am posting two music videos that show examples of women using their bodies to sell their songs. The first is by Ciara called Ride It. The second is Shakira's She Wolf. Both women are seen as empowering in the music industry but their videos are completely overly sexualized and even detract from the music. You can watch and see what you focus more on, their musical talent or their bodies?

These different videos and examples of sexuality can be seen as "popular culture screens as mirrors"(Ladies and Gentlemen L.J). Sometimes we need to look at what the media is portraying to make us realize that all this fighting women have been doing for decades to gain equal rights does not change the idea of the gender identity of women. We subject and use our bodies to gain what we want and know that the stereotype of men doing anything for a women for her body is seen all over the media. These powerful women in the music industry are suppose to be role models to young girls around the world. But what are they teaching them? That their bodies are what sell? A scene in Mean Girls perfectly shows the idea of the media affecting young girls. Regina George's sister is seen twice emulating what she sees on TV. She pretends to be on Girls Gone Wild and then she is seen dancing very provocatively to a music video. Women, know matter what excuses they say, use their bodies to get what they want. You may disagree but I am a women and know that sexuality works to my benefit. I know this because it see it all over popular culture.

The reality of the situation is, women use their bodies to gain the respect and equality that they want. First wave feminist would role over in their graves if they knew what women were doing today. A popular slang phrase in society is "use what yo mama gave you". So if that means shaking our asses and dressing in slutty clothes to sell records or get that promotion or a free drink at the bar, women are going to do it.

Mollie Braen


  1. I feel you are very much touching on a view of third wave feminism. Though I would like to know if you are agreeing with using your body to get what you want or that we should not use out bodies to achieve a goal? While they may be bad role models have they made strives towards any goal feminist have been pushing for?

  2. I totally believe that woman should use their bodies to get what we want. Yeah it may be degrading but it works. Men are always using whatever they can to get what they want, so why not women too? I know a hardcore feminist would say no, we must not do that, but I am not that way. It may be bad role models for young kids but everyone knows, sex sells.

  3. I feel your view point would be accurate to what is shown. I feel that women should be allowed to use their bodies as they want like you have stated. Men do get to use what they have, be it their overly aggressive behavior or being intimidating. Women simply have to use what they are good at and sadly that means they must bend to the will of what society wants.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I do agree with you when you say there is no denying “Women, know matter what excuses they say, use their bodies to get what they want.” But where I disagree is when women think this is acceptable. Women who use their looks or sexuality to get what they want are just asking to be used as objects for men. Isn’t that what feminists were fighting for not to happen?

    Also, Nudity in art is not for men; it is because that was the style of art
    during impressionism. The ideas behind impressionist art was that the artists “rejected attempts to portray ideal beauty, and instead sought the NATURAL beauty of their surroundings…” ("Impressionism - Styles & Movements - Art in the Picture.com." Art in the Picture. Web. 07 Oct. 2011. .
    Hence, natural beauty was depicted through nudity.

    Secondly, I disagree with the ideals behind Hooters. I disagree with a business whose point is for women to use their bodies to sell their product (food). I think it degrades women and that good-looking women with nice breasts can get a job anywhere else that pays just as much without having to wear a uniform that is equivalent to the coverage of lingerie.

    I do not think it is ever acceptable for “women [to] use their bodies to gain the respect and equality that they want?” I think women can’t gain respect, without respecting themselves and their bodies first.

    The situation/question I propose for women who support using their body and sexuality to get what they want is this: First off, right now, somewhere in the world is your soul mate/significant other whom you will one day fall in love with, become best friends with, or even marry. What would this person think of your actions right now? What would your future girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife think if they saw you wearing a Hooters uniform with your butt and cleavage hanging out for all strangers to see? What would he/she think of dressing slutty to simply get that free drink at a bar?

    sorry I wrote a lot moll, I was on a roll haha :)

  6. I agree that it is unacceptable to use our sexuality to get what we want. Like Natalie said, it won't help you gain any respect although it will get you what you want. It should be acceptable because men use their sexuality to their advantage, but since we are women, it is unacceptable. This is slightly hypocritical because I know that although many people would agree with this idea in theory, women still use their sexuality to get what they want. It's evident in day to day life. A common example is a women, scantly dressed, leaning over the bar so the bartender can see down her shirt, so he will give her a free drink. Although it works, that doesn't mean it should be done because then how can you respect yourself? If the tactic works then you might be excited for a little while, but when you stop and think about it, you just showed that you are nothing more than an object made for men's satisfaction, an idea that feminists have been trying to counter for years.

  7. Your argument is something that is constantly on my mind while in this class, so thanks for acknowledging it ahah. I completely agree with you that women use their sexuality to get what they want. Women were given this natural sexuality and I for one think it is fine to use it in certain cases to get what you want. It's unfortunate at times, and it can easily turn into demeaning quality at times. It's a touchy subject. I think many women do use their bodies to get what they want without any remorse; they don't see it as a bad thing and they still respect themselves because they are, as you said, "using what their mother gave them." I think it is wrong for us to look down on people who use their sexuality to get what they want because ultimately it's a personal choice and it might be easy to say they have no respect for themselves, but I think it's up to the person. Being in the entertainment industry, I know for a fact several actors receive the part they auditioned for because they "dressed" the part and if that means wearing a low-cut shirt or a short skirt, then so be it. Sometimes that is what it takes to get the part. I'm not saying it's right, but people do gain success from using these tactics and I think the whole respect aspect of it is up to the individual. Also, I agree with Natalie that the human body wasn't necessarily sexualized in the late 1800s, it was just a form of art. In many areas of the world today, the naked human body isn't always sexualized. America and the media made it that way. It's all a matter of perspective ultimately and I felt your blog was very well written and I enjoyed how precise and to-the-point it was. Awesome job! =)

  8. It's sad that women have to use their bodies to get ahead or get what they want in the world. Men never have to use their bodies like women do. You show how unfair it is for women now because of how conditioned we are due to pop culture. Everywhere you look women are being used or seen as objects but at the same time it gets them ahead and makes them powerful in their own right. The constant focus on women's bodies is making the generations view of women very narrow and I guess you could say unrealistic.

  9. I would have to agree with the notion that women are sexually objectified alot in the media, and probably at hooters too. I just would like to know how you, mollie, personally feel about your last sentence - 'So if that means shaking our asses and dressing in slutty clothes to sell records or get that promotion or a free drink at the bar, women are going to do it.'

    In addition, I would like to disagree with campbell meister's comment above stating, 'Men never have to use their bodies like women do.' I'd like to give a personal example - I moved here to Denver at the beginning of September, and during the first week, went out to a gay nightclub downtown with my roommates and their friends. It was really hot in the place and somehow, my shirt ended up coming off - okay, okay so I was a bit saucy. I ended up chatting to a security guard working at the club mentioning I was new in town and looking for a job. He introduced me to management and three days later, I had a job working as a bar back - a generally shirtless bar back, that is.
    What I'm getting at is, within the gay community, I feel men are certainly just as objectified - its just not as well known because gay men aren't exactly sexually objectified in popular media, at least not yet anyway.

  10. Tyler your comment just made me actually laugh out loud.

    On another note, I cannot stress enough how no matter what women will do to gain respect, I truly believe every girl and women, even if they are confident in themselves, will use their sexuality to get things. When going out to bars, I never feel bad when a guy buys me a drink. I accept it because he may not know me and may be just using it to try and sleep with me, but hey I got a free drink. Maybe you talk to them and it's great or maybe they are a total creep but it's nice sometimes to just have chivalry take over, even if it is because of my body. Also being an art history major and actually concentrating in impressionist art I actually know for a fact when they created works of art involving naked women, it was for the sole purpose of the male gaze. My favorite example is Olympia by Manet. She is completely nude, lounging either (this is debated) waiting for a lover or has just been with a lover. This portrait is almost a form of pornography and was actually at first not allowed to be in galleries because of the highly sexual content. Women have and I believe always will use their bodies because that is what was given to us. I have an ass and I am not afraid to use it. I have self respect and know that I am smart and have more to me then just what I look like, but I want to get ahead in the world and have a fulfilling life and if using my body (aka the tools I was naturally given) then damn straight I will. We may not always agree and most women (especially feminist) would say this is degrading and down right wrong but let's get real here, what woman hasn't ever put on make-up and a slutty dress to attract men? (or in the case of lesbians, attract other women) Most girls will admit that they dress for men's attention. It's just how society is.

  11. This blog entry, however short compared to some of the others, contains a massive amount of information when it is applied to the world around us when it comes to billboards on the street or music and television. When I clicked on the link after reading "Do you see more music or more body," I saw a challenge to not look at their bodies. However, I was greatly disappointed to realize that there is no musical talent to appreciate, and instead there is only the image of some half naked and half brained rich girl parading around and touching herself. While I could only last around 1 minute before my patience wore out, it was all the time I needed to see about a hundred innuendoes from each of the singers. Because their musical ability is atrocious, if you read the comments on Shakira's video, the only reason people listen to her music is because she can thrust her hips and chest. At the beginning of the video, when there is no music, I began bracing myself for the worst, as the only thing I heard was heavy feminine breathing that implies that she is sexy in a literal sense.

    As for the little girl imitating that scene, I think this image will solidify just how influenced these kids are: http://www.yourfunnystuff.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Want-To-Be-Like-Mommy.jpg

  12. I agree that women do use their bodies to get what they want or to get somewhere, but I think that there still are women who don't only use their bodies to get ahead. For example maybe ladies who go to school and get good grades and get a job becuase of their qualifications not what they look like. Some women are still being represed in the work place, but I really dont think every single women uses her body to get what she wants.

  13. I agree with what Paige said. I do think that not all women use their bodies to get ahead in life or to get what they want. However that being said although I don't always agree with women using their bodies to get what they want it is their personal choice. If using their bodies gets them to where they want to be in life then so be it. I personally would never do that but I believe that girls are going to do it regardless.

  14. @Unknown. Okay, I'm sorry, but I have quite a few problems with your position. When you say that "I'm going to use my ass because that's what was given to me," you are supporting the sexual objectification of women. While this may not seem like a problem to you, it is the core of creating rape culture in our society. You are giving men the power to objectify female bodies, and soon "meaningless" catcalls, ass-grabs, and inappropriate comments turn into more dangerous scenarios, i.e. taking advantage of a drunk girl and physically/sexually abusing her. You write that "women have their bodies because that's what was given to us." Well, men have bodies too, and I don't think that gives us the right to abuse or rape women. Women are also born with a brain, and a body that is nearly identical genetically to that of a males. Sure it is fine to accept a drink from a guy every once in a while, but wouldn't it be more rewarding to earn the same amount of money as a man, and be able to buy your own drink, or even a drink for a guy? There's a thought.

  15. I completely agree with everything in this blog. It is sad to see that this is an aspect of third wave feminism. I think that this way of acting can also be used in social situations. Whichever girl dresses and acts the most provocative gets the most attention from the boys, therefore making the rest of the girls jealous. It's so disappointing to see that girls (including those at DU) think this is a good way to receive attention, and it's even more disappointing that girls are jealous of this artificial and shallow attention.
    It is sad, and somewhat pathetic, that women still need to use their bodies sexually to get what they want. Women, as we know, are just as smart, talented, and driven as men. So why are some women so afraid they won't measure up that they resort to "using what their momma gave them?"
    Third wave feminism should be working against this concept, not fighting for it.