Monthly Archives: May 2011
Researchers at Indiana University have completed the most comprehensive sex survey since 1994. It yielded some surprising results:
- Young women were more likely than young men to report having had sex in the last year
- Young women are increasingly likely to report masturbating
- 85% of men report that their partner had an orgasm the last time they had sex; but only 64% of women said they had reached orgasm. Hmmmmm
- Men were more likely to reach orgasm if they were in a relationship than with a casual sex partner
When I ask my students if they can think of anything good about being a sex object they think there must be something positive, since so many women put a lot of effort into being sexy, with some aspiring to “sex symbolness.” Here’s what they say:
- Sexy women get attention. They feel attractive and admired, so it’s a source of self-esteem.
- It’s nice to feel wanted and desired. It’s easier to attract mates or just get sex.
- It can be fun to feel sexy.
- Sex is a historic source of power for women. Sexiness can gain women resources, whether through marriage or getting men to do favors. It puts women in control over men.
Then I ask if there’s a downside. More comments:
- It can be uncomfortable being gawked at. You can feel like you’re only a sex object – and that’s all, like you’re not worth a lot.
- You can feel disrespected. Guys just want one thing. You get used.
- When women are seen as all about sex, and they don’t want to put out, they’re seen as bitches.
- You aren’t seen as intelligent. You aren’t taken seriously.
- Your personality disappears.
- It can feel inauthentic, feeling pressured from friends or society to look sexy.
- Sexual objectification leads to sex trafficking. Treating young women and girls like they are nothing but objects that exist to pleasure men. They have no lives. They’re all about sex and nothing else. And they’re not given an opportunity to be anything else.
But there are problems when you don’t meet sex-object standards, too:
- You feel like you’re constantly being judged, and not coming out well.
- You may starve. Or get implants and die (that does happen). You have false hope, and when you don’t meet the standard you lose self-esteem.
So much contradiction. Is there any way to get some of the positive upside without all the downside? I’ll admit to feeling the world would be a bit dull without any spice of sexiness.
How about distinguishing between sexy and sex object. And broadening our notion of what “sexy” means?
Objects are treated as little more than a means to others’ pleasure. They are not people with lives, goals, thoughts or emotions. It’s one-dimensional. A limited box. And who cares how you treat an object?
So if a woman does have – and is seen as having – a life, goals, emotions and intelligence, and sexiness is one part of all that, then she can be a full person – who is also sexy.
But still, can we move outside the narrow notions? Who’s sexy to me? Women and men who are classy, smart, talented, confident, and who make a difference in the world.
Nancy Pelosi, Thandie Newton, French politician Marie-Ségolène Royal, Helen Mirren, Angelina Jolie, Jackie O, Jennifer Lopez, Toni Morrison, Queen Rania of Jordan, Barbara Walters, Sandra Bullock, Zhang Ziyi, America Ferrera, Diane Sawyer, Jennifer Aniston, Queen Latifah, Gloria Steinem, Julia Roberts, and Maria Shriver.
And men? My list includes:
Ezra Klein, Benico del Torro, Ed Harris, New York Times columnist, Princeton professor and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, CNN anchor T.J. Holmes, Tom Brokaw, Brad Pitt, Barack Obama, Stephen Colbert, Gabriel Byrne, Japan’s former Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro, JFK Jr., Antonio Banderas, Sidney Poitier, Javier Bardem, and White House corresspondent, Jake Tapper.
Yeah, sexiness can be fun and alluring, when moving outside narrow limits. But sex objects are just trapped.
The perfect Islamic state was Osama Bin Laden’s stated goal. The Taliban’s too.
In the name of Islam, women under the Taliban (who still control large parts of Afghanistan) are forced to cover themselves, head to toe, mesh hiding their eyes. Women may be punished even for laughing or walking too loudly and drawing attention to themselves. In the home, windows may be painted over to protect men from unwittingly catching sight of an unveiled woman.
All this to keep men pure.
And now we learn that Osama Bin Laden had a porn stash.
In like hypocrisy, a U.N. report says the Taliban has forced women into prostitution.
So is the concern really that women will trample all over men’s purity? Or do Bin Laden and the Taliban just want to control women? And feel empowered, themselves?
The so-called Islamic state the Taliban fashioned when fully in power didn’t seem to have much to do with Islam. The Quran gives women the right to work. Not the Taliban. The Quran gives women the right to consent to marriage. And yet young girls were (and still are) married off before they had even begun to menstruate.
Meanwhile, the Taliban forbade all sorts of things without any scriptural backing: educating girls, television, radio, movies, or even the keeping of birds, whose chirping is unduly musical.
Most people don’t know that the only thing the Quran tells women to cover are their bosoms. Something Bin Laden went out of his way to see uncovered. Perfect Islamic Bin Laden? I think not.
It had not occurred to me that that wasn’t a possibility. It’s what my culture said I was supposed to look like. What I needed to look like to be truly valued.
Full of contradictions, I began my supermodel project. But in a healthy sort of way, I told myself. Wasn’t going to starve. No anorexia or bulimia for me.
I later came to see that I did end up with an eating disorder.
I became obsessed with food. How much had I eaten that day? Constantly counting calories. My worth depended upon how well I had eaten.
At times I swung between overeating and starving. Very little starving – I wasn’t good at it.
I next developed an exercise obsession. You can’t get too much exercise, right? After developing a knee injury from jogging, I tried Nordic Track. Another knee injury. Next, I began walking three miles a day at a brisk pace. Yet another knee injury. Apparently, you can rub your cartilage too much from over-exercise and lack of rest. My physical therapist told me to start biking instead – and don’t overdo it! No more than four days a week, and no hills.
After all the food and exercise mania, I still looked nothing like a supermodel. One day standing in line at a grocery store I picked up People Magazine and read a story on how supermodels did it. I finally understood why I didn’t look like them, and never would.
Kim Alexis had tried every fad diet and at one point starved herself for four days straight.
Carol Alt went on a fruit-only diet. Later, she drank eight cups of coffee a day, and ate salad for dinner.
Andie Macdowell said many models took drugs to deal with the stress of starving.
What struck me most was when Kim Alexis said,
When I first started out, I was rooming in a New York City hotel with (supermodel) Kelly Emberg. One night I came home, and I was eating only a head of lettuce for dinner. Kelly walked in and said, “You’re eating a whole head of lettuce? How could you?” I cried and said, “But it’s all I’ve had all day. It’s not even 50 calories!”
To which I say, “Are you freaking kidding me?!” That big “cheat” would be insane dieting in my book. In anyone’s book, one would hope.
That’s when my hopes for supermodel slim were dashed.
Yes, I had been insane. But not that insane.
And it’s not just me. It’s society. What kind of crazy culture says women must feel guilty about eating nothing but a head of lettuce to “look good”?
So I determined to gain my mental and physical health back. I’ve had ups and downs, but so far so good.
Related Posts on BroadBlogs
How to Look Like a Victoria’s Secret Angel
Beautiful Women’s Hips Are Thinner Than Their Heads?
Spoon Fed Barbie