Women Seeing Women as Sexier than Men
In the bedroom, this can make women’s sexuality a bit convoluted, which I’ll discuss later.
But consider my students:
“Women’s bodies are just naturally sexier than men’s,” my class tells me when I ask why women are portrayed as sex objects.
In this belief, my students are not alone.
A few years back Lisa Kudrow, of Friends fame, told Jay Leno that female nudity is displayed more in movies because, “Who wants to look at a guy?”
Hugh Hefner thinks women are natural sex objects, “If women weren’t sex objects, there wouldn’t be another generation.”
Growing up, girls are bombarded with visions of women as sexy, with skin selectively hidden and revealed, the camera focused on those intriguingly concealed parts.
When I was little my mom took me to the Ice Capades. After noticing that the women were half dressed while the men were fully clothed, I asked why. Mom told me that women just have better legs.
Do they? One warm summer day an adult from my church youth group commented, “It’s too bad the guys have the best legs.” (Thanks!) But what is our cultural ideal? Longer, leaner. Young men typically have longer legs, and they don’t have the extra layer of fat that women do. So most young men’s legs come closer to our ideal. Yet we say women have better legs? When I think about it, I actually think men have pretty nice looking legs. But nothing and no one directs our attention to them.
On Dancing With The Stars, women are half-dressed and men are fully-clothed. During an advertisement, the camera lingers on women’s breasts and legs in a Victoria’s Secret display. Next, a commercial for shoes focuses on women’s behinds: See this Rebook ad for EasyTone. Try to imagine the same focus on men’s butts (which actually are pretty attractive)!
Watch a football game and see big, fully-dressed, aggressive guys playing on the field, while scantily clad cheerleaders show off their stuff from the sidelines. In the Bikini Open men sport golf wear while women dawn bikinis. When does Sports Illustrated most focus on women? In the swimsuit edition.
Through it all, the camera gazes at women’s body parts, but not men’s. Telling us what’s important to notice. What’s sexy and what’s not.
Men’s bodies are rarely sexualized outside infrequent underwear ads.
Historically, men have had control of media, and they’ve portrayed what they see as sexy.
Bombarded with these images, girls come to see women as sexier than men. As I’ve said before, when I tell my class that I find a Playboy pinup sexier than a Playgirl pinup, women’s heads nod in agreement.
Meanwhile, when women answer surveys about what they find sexy they say “men.” But when they are wired up, blood flow to the vagina is stronger when viewing an image of a nude woman than a nude man – conscious responses and bodily responses not agreeing.
Oddly, and yet logically, women come to see women through male eyes.
So women come to see themselves as the sexy half of the species. Being sexy has some advantages. It can just be fun, it’s easier to attract mates (consider the success of women versus men in singles bars), and sexiness is a source of power.
But there’s a downside, too, including the narrow construct that leaves so many women feeling they exist outside the “sexy” box, with a drop in self esteem kicking in.
Taken to extreme, some women can become sex objects, taking an unhealthy one-dimensional focus on themselves, feeling that how they look is all that matters. And some men may see them as objects whose sole purpose is to be used for their pleasure.
It ain’t so great to be, or be seen, as mere object.
Posted on April 2, 2012, in body image, feminism, gender, men, objectification, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged body image, culture, feminism, gender, men, objectification, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, women. Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.