Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Objectification and Victimization of Women in Modern Advertising

I had to write an English paper on this, and figured I'd share it with you all. Hope you like it!



            Women are nothing more than victims and objects. That’s a pretty surprising statement for 2012. Sure, women can vote and get jobs now. However, open up a magazine and you will be bombarded with lifeless, nude bodies advertising anything from clothes to cheeseburgers.
            Women are rarely afforded the luxury of clothing in advertising. In a Michael Kors advertisement, a man and woman are walking hand-in-hand down the street. The man is in a three-piece suit. The woman? In a swimsuit that looks like little more than a ribbon wrapped around her torso. This is atrocious enough, until you realize that Kors is famous for watches and apparel. The man gets less that 1/4th of the advertisement, and his watch is half-covered.
            Carl’s Jr. has a commercial advertising their barbecue burger. The ad lasts for thirty-one seconds, but the majority is overtly sexual images of two young women. Eight seconds are fully food, but most of it is close-up shots of the young women’s bodies. They don’t speak at all. If it weren’t for the last six seconds telling what the advertisement is about, one would leave with the impression that it was an ad for an adult film.
            The popular clothing store American Apparel titles their advertisements as “risquĂ©.” However, mostly nude women in either skin tights jeans or underwear with double entendres emblazoned above them leaps over the line of “verging on impropriety.” Not to mention, it’s hard to advertise clothing when your models don’t wear clothing.
            All three of these examples just highlight the fact that women are little more than sexual objects. It makes sense for Victoria’s Secret to have models in lingerie, because they advertise lingerie. Neither a barbecue burger nor a watch designer have anything to do with lingerie, so why use them in advertising?
            It’s well-known that Photoshop is used in all advertisements. It has been documented in many, many, many Photoshop disasters. Nevertheless, it is used without fail. White-washing, pore-erasing, cellulite-obliterating, “flaw”-removing, and buffing women into plastic-looking dolls is one of their specialties.
Rihanna, BeyoncĂ©, Queen Latifah, Sofia Vergara, and Aishwarya Rai have all been victims of white-washing. (White-washing is the over-retouching of a non-Western European woman until she looks white.) Freckles and moles are rare occurrences in advertisements, even though many people have them. Tina Fey and Lana Parilla have distinguishing facial scars, but most pictures of them will Photoshop their “imperfections” out. A quick Google search of “Photoshop before and after” will turn up multiple photos of beautiful people. And their heavily retouched published personas.
Finally, the positioning of the models bodies suggests a recent violent encounter. A Calvin Klein ad features a young woman on the ground. It looks like she has just been pushed out of a car, which is evident by the man’s legs standing over her. Her face is contorted in pain, and her body language suggests fear or pain. Calvin Klein makes clothes, but the main theme here is the suggestion of violence.
An ad for Marc Jacobs features a young model looking timid, and trying to hide. Her face is a mask of fear and timidity. Marc Jacobs is also a clothing designer, but her clothes are barely visible.
Calvin Klein, yet again, has two more advertisements for jeans. One involves a young woman on a beach. She looks like she’s drowned, and been washed up on the shore. Her jeans are mostly cut out of the advertisement. Her lifeless body takes up more of the ad than what the ad is advertising. In the second ad, the young woman isn’t even wearing jeans. Instead, she is fallen in a field. Again, her unresponsive body is contorted in a way that doesn’t show off her clothing.
Why is violence against women an effective way of advertising? How is objectifying them an effective way to sell to them? Women need to stand up for their rights. They need to stop purchasing things from sexist advertisers that only advertise the victimization and objectification of women. We are not objects. And we certainly are not victims. And, in 2012, we certainly do not have to stand for this.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Bagged Milk?

So, I recently learned about bagged milk. It is seriously a gallon's worth of milk in a bag. My brain can not understand this phenomenon.

I have never, in my entire life, heard of bagged milk. Up until now. My parents act like it’s this totally normal thing. But, I just CAN NOT UNDERSTAND IT! Can y’all explain this to me? Please? Because, my milk has only ever come in plastic jugs or waxed cardboard. NEVER HAVE I EVER HAD A BAGGED DRINK! 
Like, how do they drink it? Keep it? Because, it looks like a gallon of milk, in a bag. But, I don’t drink a gallon of milk on my cereal. (Well, I don’t drink milk anyway. I’m a soy milk person. But, I digress.) How do they keep it? Transport it? Don’t the bags burst? 
I just… And how have Americans NEVER made fun of that? Like, we’ll be all, “Oh, ‘ello, mate! Want to go watch the telly, eat fish ‘n chips, grab a pint, and drink tea? GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!” and "Want some maple syrup, eh? I'm a Mountie, eh. Canadian bacon, eh!" BUT HOW ARE WE OBLIVIOUS TO BAGGED MILK?

And, I'm totally not the only person that feels this way. If you search "bagged milk" on Tumblr, it's completely normal. In other countries. They're actually making fun of Americans for not understanding it. I'm sure we have things that they don't understand. However, some very kind Canadian made a video explaining bagged milk for all Americans. It must be like Harry Potter explaining the function of a rubber duck. Like, it's something that's painfully obvious for them, but insanely fascinating for us. So, thank you, kind Canadian. I owe you my sanity.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Is it a choice?

You know, the stereotype that all gay men are flamboyant really got me thinking. Obviously, not every homosexual man is in-your-face. However, are the ones that ARE flamboyant because that's who they are, or because that's what society tells them what they should be?
I mean, just look at almost every pop culture representation of a gay male. They're very in-your-face, flamboyant, and almost harass every male they deem attractive. It's parodying an entire group of people, but I digress.
Women, in pop culture, are told that we need to be slim, shapely, cook, clean, be modest, raise children, whiten our teeth, apply flawless makeup, try slews of diets, etc. Women in real-life, after being bombarded by this messaging, begin to act the way that society deems proper and feminine.
So, if gay males are constantly being bombarded with messages that, to be a true homosexual, you must be flamboyant, open, constantly cheerful, in-your-face, all these things that we constantly see, wouldn't they do the same thing?
There's nothing wrong with being who you are! But pop culture and the media are known for their brain washing abilities. Could women be the only people affected? I don't think so. I think that society puts down strict social codes for every ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and age range. And I find that to be revolting.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Whoreoween!

Slut shaming is running rampant in today's society. For those of you who don't know, slut shaming is insulting, looking down on, abusing, harassing, etc. a woman that is seen as "too sexual." If you've ever looked at any woman's mass produced Halloween costume made in the past five years, they are growing more and more sexual, with shorter hemlines, lower necks, and tighter fits.
Lots of people love to get their panties in a wad over this. They see it as trashy, a call for attention, being too openly sexual, and all of these terrible things. But, they're people, too.
First of all, it's their body. You wouldn't like it if I told you what to wear. Why does it become acceptable when you're telling a grown woman what she can wear? We shouldn't ostracize the majority of our population just because they don't dress according to our taste. If you don't approve of the way they dress, then don't dress that way yourself.
The human body is already taboo enough. Movies with violence, blood, gore, mass killings, explosions, missiles, guns, knives, and all sorts of murderous imagery are given PG-13 ratings. Movies with nudity, and sexual themes? They're given R-ratings.
There's also a huge amount of sexism when clothes become involved. Men are often shown shirtless, or in just their boxers. That's fine, accepted by both genders as perfectly A-OK! However, if a woman wears a shirt that is "too low-cut," she's labelled as a slut, whore, tramp, floozy, and other vicious words. Among first sight, not even a conversation, women are dumb, ditzy, willing to sleep with anybody, and never going anywhere in life because their skirts don't reach their ankles.
"It's demoralizing to become sexy." No, it isn't. I can not control what other people think. I wish I could, because I would end slut shaming, but I can't. So, for somebody else to see a fully grown woman as sexy? It's fine. Our thoughts can't be controlled, much less the thoughts of others. And a simple thought of "Oh, that woman looks attractive" doesn't hurt anybody. Only the actions do. And, as long as you feel attractive in what you are wearing, your morals are perfectly fine.
So, folks, stop tearing each other apart. Stop slut shaming. Stop this outdated, misogynistic, close-minded way of thinking! We need to work on equality, but we aren't going anywhere if we don't knock it off! I'm going to leave you with Laci Green to reinforce my message. Maybe you'll listen to a college graduate.

Happy Halloween!

Well, technically it's the day after Halloween (and the start of my birthday month!), but this message will work for whenever.

Halloween is a fun time of year when you get to dress up as somebody/something else, party, and get free candy. However, it's rife with sexism, slut-shaming, racism, and culture appropriation.
Let's start with the racism and cultural appropriation.
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Despite the obvious racial issues with the third costume, these are all guilty of racism and cultural appropriation. Native American head dresses nowadays are cool, hipster, and iconic-- of Lana Del Rey. However, they're very important, and not to be worn by the average Joe. They're reserved for the most powerful and influential tribe members. 
The problems with Native American costumes: We're erasing their culture and taking an important show of bravery away, so that we can be so cool. Then again, we're really good at erasing Native American history. I mean, open up a US History book. We're constantly moving them off of their holy land, massacring them when they don't obey us, and robbing them of everything they own. 
And don't you dare give me the "Well, I'm 1/64th Native American, so it's OK." You can't speak for all of one culture when you are one person. And, if you really are Native American, you should have more respect for your culture, history, and ancestors than to tout an important part of their lives so you can look like Lana. You are also not "borrowing" their culture. Why? Well, let's say that you are Christian. I take a very important cross necklace that your grandmother gave to you. But I'm just "borrowing" your culture. Even if I have no respect for it (I do respect all religions, by the way), it means something to you. 
Now onto the classic definition of racism: African American culture. Afro wigs are not appropriate to be wearing. You are taking a beautiful, confident woman that chooses to wear her natural hair, and turning it into a mockery. Dreadlocks, too. Since, you know, all "proper" stoner/70's/hippie outfits have either an afro or dreadlocks. So, essentially, you're taking natural hair, turning it into a great big joke, while adding a stigma.
To put it into layman's terms, imagine that I put on a blonde wig. I begin to act ditzy, self-centered, and shallow. You know, because all blondes are dumb and shallow. Oh, wait? I'm being unfair? Sorry, it's just a costume!
I shouldn't even have to talk about parodying people of color. It's not acceptable to be Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, or anybody else. You're parodying an entire culture. Yes, you're incredibly witty (dripping sarcasm, of course) when you dress up as Diana Ross and begin to scream at the top of your lungs, and get over-emotional about some things. Oh wait, you're not. You're being stereotypical and racist.
Muslim culture is not filled with terrorists. In fact, according to an Islamic website, there's no violence at all. Surprising, right? I mean, a religion whose practices are as violent as a declaration of faith, prayer, charity, fasting, and pilgrimage.... Wait, what? That sounds a lot like Christianity... Hm, well, Christians must be savage, too, then. But, I know a lot of Christians and they aren't savage at all. Get my point, guys?
I'm going to leave you with a video on cultural appropriation and Halloween racism. I'll return to slutty costumes at a later time! Bye, guys!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My Feelings Are Legitimate

"Young Love" "Puppy Love" "It won't last" "You don't know what love is"
We've all heard this, right? In one of our first relationships, we were told that we didn't know what love was by our elders. I really, really, really hate when people say this.
It's their first relationship, of course they don't know what you think love is! They're young! However, what they are feeling right now, is the closest to love that they have ever felt. No, it probably isn't the love you feel for your husband. But, they don't know what that love is, because they've never been married before. They've only been thirteen-year-olds with their first partners. They've never had a fiancee or a long-term relationship. They've never lived with anybody. The only love they know is the platonic love for their relatives and friends, and the love in that first relationship. And that love is just as legitimate as yours is. Why? Because life is filled with stepping stones. Nobody goes from nothing to soul mates. They build, grow, and develop over time.
Just because you're older does not mean that you get to make them feel inadequate about what they're feeling. For the longest time, I was afraid to announce that I loved my partners. Why? Not because I wasn't sure of how I felt, I knew that I was feeling love, at least in its early stages. It was because I didn't want to be patronized. People think that, because they were born twenty years earlier that that gives them the right to tell young teenagers what they're feeling.
It doesn't. It just makes us self-conscious. Trust me. Stop telling kids that their feelings aren't real. Instead, teach them what love is supposed to feel like. Stop telling them that it's puppy love and won't last. Teach them how to be equal partners that contribute to healthy relationships.
This leads me into something else, about feelings not being legitimate.
I'm turning 16 soon. It worries me, because I feel that it's a monumental age. However, I can't voice my concerns to anybody. They laugh at me, and tell me that "16 isn't that big of a deal. Wait until you get to be my age."
I've never been your age. The oldest I've ever been is 15. From the time I was old enough to understand the concept of age until now, 16 has been HUGE. I still feel that way.
I know that, twenty years from now, 16 will just be a drop in the bucket. However, my bucket only has 15 drops in it! Each drop really counts, and 16 is a really big drop.
So stop. My feelings are the most legitimate I've ever felt. It's up to me, and only me to decide what is "real" and what is "not that big of a deal." Just because you've lived for a longer time doesn't mean that you know what I'm feeling.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Disney Princess Challenge Part TWO

So, yesterday, I did part one. Tonight, I am going to finish what I started.

11) I wish I had Snow White's voice. I just love the voices in vintage movies. I have no clue why, but I totally do. Voices today just don't have the same cadences.
12) The two princesses I think would be best friends are Aurora and Cinderella. They're both vintage and classic characters. They're so sweet and little girls look up to them so much.
13) I think Tiana and Ariel would detest each other. Tiana is so good at working hard for what she wants, and Ariel just gets it all handed to her. Tiana is selfless, and Ariel is selfish.
14) I think Mushu and Ol' Ray would get along so well. They're both sassy, funny, and outgoing.
15) Naveen and Beast have a lot in common, so I think they would mesh well. Both were selfish, but changed for their lady loves.
16) I cry in pretty much every Disney movie. I mean, The Lion King just leaves me bawling. However, this is the princess scene that makes me cry the most
17) I cry when I'm happy. So I guess that scene also makes me cheer. But I'm going with a new one, so as not to seem cheap.
18) I can't think of any scenes that make me cringe. So, here's another scene that makes me cry.
19) The Disney princesses all have pretty tragic stories. I guess I'm going to have to go with Belle, since hers is the least tragic.
20) I'm breaking the rules in this. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite princess movie, but The Lion King is totally my favorite movie. I can watch that movie all day, every day. And I often times do. I know every word in the first scene, and most of the rest of the movie.