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Sara Tejada
John Kubler
English 115
4 December 2014
The War Between the Sexes is Over
How does it feel to know that everyday, strangers are making private judgments of you in
public? How does it feel to know that these strangers make their judgments solely based on your
body and appearance? How does it feel to know that this behavior is stripping people from their
self-perception as a worthy human being? The American society has experienced a growing
hyper-sexulaization of culture, which includes a steady increase of sexually explicit images in
entertainment, media advertising, fashion, and human public behaviors. This hyper-sexualized
society is heading in a negative direction because the impact of this type of culture is affecting
people in all areas including modern romance and the power dynamics in male and female
gender relationships. According to the American Psychological Association sexualization is
defined as: "when a person's value comes only from her/his sexual appeal or behavior... and
when a person is sexually objectified and made into a thing for another's sexual use. Rosalind
Gill, author of Media, Empowerment and the Sexualization of Culture Debates notes that In
the last decade, the sexualization of culture has become a major topic of concern(Gill 736).
Todays society frequently exposes men and women to sexual objectification from the opposite
genders, which is commonly influenced by the media and their perceptions of what it takes to be
sexy. Hyper-sexualization impacts societys perceptions about the power dynamics between
genders in real life relationships, which often results in harsh consequences on a persons selfesteem.

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There is a wide range of negative effects concerning the physical and verbal violence that
is commonly made about a persons body due to the hyper-sexualization and degradation of men
and women when it comes to their sexuality in the American culture. Thomas Keith, philosophy
professor at California State University of Long Beach, exposes misogyny and sexism in popular
American media in his documentary, Generation M: Misogyny in Media and Culture. Keith uses
porn and music videos as two primary examples that have a significant impact about gender
power dynamics and its effect on self-esteem. He exposes how the hyper-sexualization of women
in media and culture causes men to view women as sexual objects, which often results in the
mistreatment of women. By sexually objectifying females, men have the ability to justify any
violent or abusive actions they commit towards women. Thomas Keith uses a popular rap artist,
Eminem, to uncover the ways in which the media and current culture is sexist and misogynist.
The song titled Superman by Eminem, has a line in which he expresses his hatred towards
women when he comments put anthrax on a tampax and slap you till you can't stand. He has
another song with lyrics that say Slut, you think I wont choke no whore / Til the vocal cords
dont work in her throat no more?!(Metrolyrics.com). Lyrics like these are prime examples of
how the objectification of women is used to legitimize violence and hurtful attitudes towards
women because it teaches men that in order to be masculine, they have to be aggressive,
authoritative, and violent. Eminem is a widely known artist, and his music plays a key role in
influencing society about how to portray and treat women. Jackson Katz, a man who was
interviewed in Generation M, comments that we live in a culture in which the level of mens
violence against women is pandemic(Keith). These examples show how common it is for men
to justify the violence that they enact against women. According to
DomesticViolenceStatistics.org, every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. Not

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only can these actions result in serious physical harm, but it also teaches women to lower their
self-worth.
Thomas Keith also uses pornogaphy as an example of how the media participates in
degrading sexuality. He shows how the sexualized portrayals of women form a persons sexual
knowledge and depicts sex in unrealistic exaggerated ways, which causes men to have
impractical expectations from women, including looking like and acting similar to the women in
these pornographic films. The images in pornography have proved to increase the lack of self
esteem and eating disorders among men and women. Another person that exposes pornography
for its misogynistic purpose is Sharon Lamb, a Professor of Counseling Psychology at UMass
Boston where she is also Chair of the department, wrote an article titled, Porn as a Pathway to
Empowerment? A Response to Petersons Commentary, where she argued that The use of
womens and girls bodies for male pleasure is antithetical to equity and mutuality in sex(Lamb
316). Lamb reveals how women are taught by all forms of media, including pornography, that
their bodies only purpose of pleasing men. Unfortunately this means that Sexual trafficking,
child sexual abuse, rape [and] harassment are all dangers for girls and women here in this
country and abroad, and are tied to the porn industry not only in symbolic ways but also in
explicit ways(Lamb 316). The hyper-sexalization of culture is teaching society to see their value
as a mere measure of how their body looks and how they can use it to please others, rather than
their full potential as a worthy human being. According to the organization Confidence Coalition
on Women, one out of four college-age women have an eating disorder and three-fourths of girls
with low self-esteem engage in negative activities, such as disordered eating, bullying, smoking
or drinking. It is vital the the American society change these statistics, by showing women that
they are much more than just a body.

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In her award winning novel, Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi reveals how society has
degraded women in several ways by taking away each woman's right to their own sexual desires
and freedom. Persepolis shows the privations faced by a young girl who discovers her own
identity, along with a new outlook on life that was often denounced during the Islamic
revolution. Marji grows up during the Islamic revolution, spends her adolescence in Austria, and
then returns to Iran as an adult. After moving to Austria to continue her education, Marji had to
confront the confusion of adolescence alone, while trying to stay true to her Iranian heritage but
also trying to gain acceptance within the European culture. During the Islamic Revolution,
women in Iran were forced to wear a veil in attempt to hide their body from the public. This
made women feel shameful and guilty about their body and their sexuality. Marji dislikes
wearing the veil, and disagrees with the Islamic regime when she speaks out against them when
she argues You say that our head-scarves are short, that our pants are indecent, that we make
ourselves up, etcbut our brothers present here have all shapes and size of haircuts and
clothes. Sometimes they wear clothes so tight that we can see everything. Why is it that I, as a
woman, am expected to feel nothing when watching these men with their clothes sculpted on but
they, as men, can get excited by two inches less of my head-scarf?(279). Marji questions why
others are telling her how she should handle her sexuality. She does not like when her life is
being controlled by men who tell her how she can dress, who she can talk too, and how she has
to behave. Marji has her own feelings about her physical appearance, and she is not content with
letting another person take control over her own body. Being forced to cover your entire body,
from head-to-toe, can cause someone to be just as insecure as being forced to walk outside
without any clothing. Societies across the world are putting a huge emphasis on the female body.
By undermining Marjis confidence and making her feel dissatisfied with her body, this results in

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negative self-image. The human body can be objectified in many ways, both causing insecurities
and shame among men and women.
Crazy, Stupid, Love is a romantic comedy-drama film directed by Glenn Ficarra and John
Requa, which objectifies women in several ways. In the movie, a middle-aged man named Cal
experiences some major life changes when his wife asks him for a divorce. Jacob, an attractive
womanizer, offers to help Cal rediscover his manhood which will make his wife, Emily, regret
asking for a divorce. Jacob has an egotistic and vain view of masculinity. He has slept with a
large number of gorgeous women, lives a life with an interest in fashion and luxury and sees the
world through materialism and sexual conquest. The women in the film exist solely at the
pleasure of the men around them. Jacob objectifies women throughout the entire movie, such as
when he is having a casual conversation with Cal and comments that The war between the sexes
is over. We won the second women started doing pole dancing for exercise(Crazy, Stupid,
Love). The men in this film portray women as an easy, simpleminded sexual conquest. The fact
that men in Crazy, Stupid, Love find women who fit this description attractive, make society
believe that all women have to abide by this specific set of qualities. The women are not praised
for their intelligence, wisdom, success, or character, which has a significant impact on how
society views relationships between genders. In her article, Beyond Empowerment? Sexuality
in a Sexist World, Nicola Gavey, a Senior Lecturer and member of the Gender and Critical
Psychology Group in the Department of Psychology at the University of Auckland argued that
Many young women we interviewed expressed dissatisfaction or discomfort with various
feature of the gendered order of their lives and the sexism they tentatively observed(Gavey
722). Although the women who were interviewed in Gaveys study were not necessarily happy
with the standards that society has placed upon them, they easily accepted living a life centered

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around gender differences and sexism. It has become so common for women to think this way
because the hyper-sexualization of women in the media has set unfair double standards that exist
both for men and women.
This direction that the American society is heading in is harmful because it displays signs
of the degradation and profanity of the Western culture. As a society, people are becoming
progressively more worried with how others look at them, rather than with their own interests
and desires. As stated by Selfesteem-Activities.com, a study carried out among female students
showed that 80% of them claimed that their negative body image was linked to the negative
remarks made by friends, family or the media. When an entire gender is objectified and verbally
or physically abused, the perception of their self-worth will lower dramatically. In order to
reserve the result of this hyper-sexualized culture, the American community needs remove the
sexualized images that have become so popular in the media and replace them with ones
showing people in positive environments, showing the uniqueness and capability of each
individual. It is evident that more actions need to be taken to help people overcome the issue of
low self esteem because of the damaging effects it can have on a society.

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Works Cited

Crazy, Stupid, Love. Dir. John Requa and Glenn Ficarra. Perf. Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling,
Julianne Moore, Emma Stone. Warner Bros., 2011. DVD.

Gavey, Nicola. "Beyond "Empowerment"? Sexuality in a Sexist World." (2011): n. pag. Web.

Lamb, Sharon. "Porn as a Pathway to Empowerment? A Response to Peterson's Commentary."


(n.d.): n. pag. Web.

Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. New York, NY: Pantheon, 2003. Print.

"Selfesteem Activities." Selfesteem-activities.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.