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Santos, Ma. Farina Kim L.

II ± AB International Studies March 17, 2010

Gender and Society Final Paper Objectification of Women as created by Advertisements

INTRODUCTION In a society cultured by traditional norms and beliefs, men are always regarded as the important part of the society, they are the dominant, the superior and the center of everything; on the other hand, women are seen as the ³other´, they are imminent, submissive to the men and are always taken for granted. Also, in a traditional society, it cannot be denied that women do not play a very important role in the society, they are just seen as mere objects, they do not have the right to think and express what their ideas are or what they feel, and they are only regarded as things, as property of men and of the society. Amidst time, societies have grown and changed from traditional setting to modern setting. With this, the society in transition has internalized these traditional norms and roles of the men and women to fit in a modern and technology-based society resulting to a rampant objectification of women in the society. Objectification refers to the particular mode in which the potentiality of one actual entity is realized in another actual entity (Garland, 1982). Therefore, as what I have understood from the definition set by Garland, objectification is seeing a person not by the own personal self that have emotions and feelings but through the body that gives meaning to the whole. In this paper, the researcher would discuss objectification as both sexual objectification and self objectification of women as the end effects of media. The researcher promise to show how women are objectified in the society through media and how does it affect them; to bring up issues that would tickle the mind of the readers and to challenge the readers to build a confident statute to go against women objectification.

The researcher therefore would like to state that she is doing this academic paper in the justification that women must be aware and informed of their status in the society. They should know the moral, emotional, social and natural implications of objectification in their personality and how should they deal with it. Women are no mere objects and with this stand, the researcher would like to address this academic paper for the benefit of information of the women in the society. For this academic paper to be successful, the researcher decides her objectives to prove in this paper. For the general objectives, the researcher would like to provide the readers a framework that would constitute to and summarize the topic and to give attention to the pressing problems that objectification of women brings. For the specific objectives, the researcher would explain how sexual objectification relates to women, to emphasize how objectification leads to the degradation of women in the society, to find the roots and effects of it, label the actors involve in the issue and give a feminist perspective about women objectification.

OBJECTIFICATION AS SEXUAL AND AS SELF-IMPLIED The main problem that this academic paper wants to discuss is: Different advertisements by the media explicitly exploit the image and body parts of women resulting to objectification that brings about defamation of character, discrimination, and unjust description and views regarding women. And this is internalized in the ordinary homes that bring about selfsurveillance and consciousness to ordinary girls. This statement can be supported by a framework that can explain its further substance the other contents of this academic paper. A framework that can dab the thesis statement is the framework offered by Tiggeman and Kuring in the year 2004. This framework is called the ³objectification theory´ where it states that ³Women experience greater objectification and engage in more surveillance than men to receive a lifetime of messages from the parents, peers, men, and the media that their appearance is central to their worth as a person and is routinely scrutinized by others´. This objectification theory is used to describe women¶s experiences (Fredricskon & Roberts, 1997).

This analytical framework means that women are more vulnerable than men in terms of self-surveillance because they are the ones that are more emotional and sensitive when it comes to their relationship with other persons. Women crave for this self-gratifying feeling to be loved and be accepted in the family and in the society because women in nature are caring and loving persons. On the other hand, male are more immune from people¶s perspective and views about them because being strong is part of their masculinity, and they have to hold their masculinity till the end because it is a sign of being a true man. As stated in the Objectification Theory, a woman¶s body is central to their worth as a person and is routinely scrutinized by others -- this just supports the statement that women are more vulnerable to self-surveillance than men. Women¶s bodies are said to be central to their worth because their bodies define their status and place in the society, hence, it is more subjected to scrutiny by people who thinks that they are superior and women are more likely to be conscious. Men on the other hand, does not feel the pressure that appearance is central to their worth because their true worth, according to the society is to provide the basic needs for the family, to support their family and to exude masculinity by being strong and resistant. Being handsome is just like adding garnish to the whole package, not necessary but definitely a plus point. To sum up the framework, a woman is more subjected to criticism when it comes to their bodies because in the society today, a woman being beautiful is being everything. On the other hand, the men are not that subjected to consciousness and scrutiny in their bodies because their masculinity defines their worth. The objectification of women can generally be classified into (1) sexual objectification and (2) self-objectification. Sexual objectification is the viewing of a person merely as depersonalized objects of desire instead of individuals with feelings, emotions and identity of their own. This is usually done through thinking of someone especially as only bodies, either the whole body alone or as fetishised body parts (Tigtog, 2007) while Self-objectification is a form of self-consciousness characterized by habitual and constant monitoring of one¶s appearance (Fredrickson and Roberts, 2007). Although both types of objectifications connote different meanings and scopes, both can be said to stem from the media. The most prominent means of objectification of women can be seen through media.

Discussing the context of objectification as sexual and self-inflicted, the researcher applied the use of advertising which is a form of media. Advertising is jam-packed with a lot of objectified women used to advertise a certain product. In advertising a certain product, women¶s bodies are dismembered to emphasize a certain product. Examples are: the use of the legs and behinds of women to advertise jeans the use of women¶s breasts to advertise brassieres the use of women¶s face to advertise makeup the use of women¶s hair to advertise shampoo products the use of women¶s body to advertise lotion and soap

This dismembering of the parts of women¶s bodies is giving the notion of separate entities. This means that women are seen as either a body, a face or as a leg. It does not give the impression that women are only one entity with feelings and emotions as well. This kind of objectification is the sex-objectification of women, where their bodies are emphasized to create or sell products that would, in return, transform them as ³barbies´ ± girls with perfect bodies and pretty faces and nothing more in particular. When kids, teens and adults have turned to these so-called ³perfect illusions´ of women in addressing their own body, the notion of sexual objectification becomes self-objectification. Notice that self-objectification means the self-consciousness of a person with regards to her perspective of what is good and what is bad, so with the trend of having ³Barbie-like´ models in the society, ordinary females tend to put effort and waste money just to conform to the standards of what is beautiful in the society. Since they are pressured to look like this and to look like that, women sometimes result to costly and lengthy measures just to change their faces and bodies according to the society¶s standard. Kilbourne (2002) suggests that women are conditioned to view their faces as masks and their bodies as objects. Female exposed to this kind of imagery, tend to experience body shame and anxiety, especially if they feel that they are greatly different to the ideal image of women. The result? Women became too engrossed in appealing only on the outside and forget the real aspects that make them as a true woman.

Who are involved in Women Objectification? Women are the obvious and main actors in the issue of Women Objectification. They are not just the victims but they are also the cause, the instigators and the observers. They are the victims because they are the persons that are sexually harassed in advertisements, they are the ones that suffer the consequences of the objectification, they are the ones that fall ill to the norms of the societal standard of beauty, they are the persons who can do nothing because they are prisoners of their own desires and wants. On the other hand, they are also instigators of this issue because if they would not submit to this ill thinking that this labeling is beautiful, and this is not; there would be no women objectification in the first place. On the neutral round, they are also the observers because they often watch and wait for the trends that would be the ³in´ for the time being and they would eventually follow that trend. They became observers in the sense that they have these animalistic instincts that would help them find their place in the society that would help them live a discrimination-free life. Another actor in this issue is the men. Man is referred to as the opposite sex that a woman in general, tries to impress. Men are certain causes why women tend to be conscious of herself; women try to appear as lady-like and as pretty as possible in front of men¶s eyes. Because of this general notion, women adapt and fall victim to the bondage of Women Objectification. They feel that if they are beautiful, they would attract more men and would feel that they are loved/ Lastly, the society and media are also actors in the issue of Women Objectification. They are the one that predict the trends, the latest and the ³what is beautiful or not´. They label people and instill this and that to their minds with the implication that if they follow the trend, they would be ³in´ but if they deviate away from the trend, they would be not be accepted in the society or they would be labeled as ³geek or nerd´ thus resulting to discrimination and such. Causes and Effects Given these pieces of information, it makes us think as to what is really the cause of this objectification of women in the society. Obviously, media is one of the probable cause of this rampant objectification of women. Through media, advertisements are played through television, female voices that are sexy and seductive can be heard through radios, leaflets and brochures are disseminated in the streets and billboards of women are displayed in highways and roads. Media

exposes the idealized image of what a woman should be, hence, female try to adapt these looks and find a way to make it work for them. With this, it can be said that media can be said as the main instigator of objectification of women but looking deeply, there are still other causes as to why women are being objectified. One of these causes is the internalization of the idea that women are objects. Since traditional society dictates that women should always look presentable, clean, and lady-like, they are also somewhat signifying that women should take a look at themselves in the viewpoint of other people, hence they should always take care of their bodies and of their selves. This idea is slowly creeping its way into the minds of women; little by little, they would learn to accept that they are just mere bodies, that they are just objects of the eyes. And so they try to conform to the beauty standards that the media and the society had imposed. They struggle to be like the models in the commercials or the girl in the brochure. Another cause of the objectification of women is Human Gaze. Gazing means a steady or a fixed look. Women¶s bodies are continually looked at, evaluated and objectified. Studies consistently demonstrate that male gaze, as well as anticipated gaze, negatively affects women (Calogero, 2004; Heru, 2003; Fredrickson and Roberts, 1997). Because of the continuous gaze to a female body in the society, women tend to become conscious and self-aware whether they look good or not. Having been stared at, women became prone and indulge to take diet pills, skin whitener or any product that makes them look and good and confident. If in actuality, they receive gaze with negativity such as raised-eyebrows or frown looks, women succumb to emotional breakdown. Shockingly enough, women are victim to the gaze at alarmingly high rates. The gaze is a very large contributor to why females self-objectify. Other studies have empirically shown that a woman¶s body appearance or physical attractiveness can determine her life experiences, or that physical beauty translates into power for women (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997). Living in a society where different advertisements with perfect bodies and pretty faces are displayed, women struggle to conform to these standards or else, they would have no place in the society. They would be left-out or be discriminated by other people. One concrete example is the movie 200 pounds of beauty. In the movie, the lead actress is a very fat woman that works at a club as a ghost singer. Since everyone thinks that she is ugly, she is always hidden at the backstage singing songs while a beautiful lady would be a

pretend singer and lip-sing her songs on stage. So, the fat lady decided to have surgery from head-to-toe but the surgeon hesitates at first. In the end, she said that she does not want to undergo surgery just to become beautiful, she also want to receive love from other people and to boost her confidence. The surgeon was impressed by the little speech and does the fat lady surgery. This example shows us that some people are discriminated because of their looks and it gives them the impression that ³If I am beautiful, I would be a star and I would be accepted´. It is also touching to take the point that some people would have surgery not for the sake of being beautiful or looked up to, but because they want to have a place in the society, they want to be loved and be accepted. It can also be said that a leading contributor to women¶s objectification is the women themselves. If they would not submit to these appropriations and standards of the society, they would not be a victim of their own desires and wants. If they would only have a sense of confidence and self-esteem based on their own personal and natural body and looks, they would not have to struggle to be accepted in the society because they can create their own label, just like the label ³Black is beautiful´. There is no clear reason as to exactly why this detrimental action exists and persists. What is known is that women are socially forced into a psychological disposition of objectifying their own bodies for positive evaluation. Sadly, previous research has also gone on to demonstrate that once a woman actively engages in self-objectification, she too will objectify others (Strelan & Hargreaves, 2005). If there are causes as to why women are objectified, of course there would also be the effects of it. Kuring and Tiggemann (2004) conducted a study consisting of 286 undergraduate students (115 men, 171 women). They administered questionnaires regarding self-surveillance, and founded out that because of self-surveillance women increase their anxiety and body shame resulting to eating disorders, as women feel the need to be thin in order to be attractive and more depressed moods. This explains that women do not care whatever it takes just to conform to the standard of beauty in the society. They naturally succumb to bad habits like bulimia, dieting too much and exercising too much. It¶s like appearance comes first before health. Another thing is

that if women are discriminated because of looks, or if they do not feel confident about themselves, they would be too depressed and would either wished that they are like this, they are like that. The more they think about their desired appearance, the more they become too engrossed with fast but unhealthy methods to look good and the more they become depressed. In another study conducted by Gettman and Roberts (2004), a state of self-objectification was induced in a sample of 90 women. The results demonstrated that self-objectification can highly led to appearance anxiety and a decrease in the appeal of physical aspects of sex. With this, it can be said that due to sexual objectification of women in advertisements, ordinary women became so insecure with themselves that leads to high level of anxiety. They tend to compare themselves to the women in advertisements but they would always end up the loser because they would soon realize that they are very far from the appearance of the model and it would cause anxiety and depressed moods. The results also found out that self-objectification leads to sexual dysfunction. Women may feel self-conscious in regards to their performance. Masters and Johnsons (1970) identified self-consciousness as key barriers to women¶s comfort with sex. In addition, objectification of women leads to an affirmation of defined gender roles with the woman as submissive and dependent (Removing the myth of starved beauty, 2001). This is because when women are used as only bodies or only faces in the media, people in the society, especially the male, would then view women as object so the system would be a ³person to object´ relationship instead of a ³person to person´ relationship. Sexual Violence and other violence against women can also be an effect of Women Objectification (Gladen, 2008). Gladen states that ³When women are portrayed as objects without subjectivity, it may be easier for some to justify violence against them. If a woman is just a thing to be looked at, her feelings and concerns might seem less important´. Lastly, another effect of objectification as both sexual and self-surveillance is that it degrades a woman¶s identity. Additionally, previous researches have demonstrated that once a woman internalizes the prevailing socio-cultural view that appearance is tremendously important, she herself will begin to objectify other women creating somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy in terms of female objectification (Strelan & Hargreaves, 2005). In short, women are

not just objectified by men but also by themselves and this leads to the degradation of women¶s identity in the society. Too explain further, a woman depicted in an advertisement will help contribute to the angst and insecure feeling of an average girl therefore making her conform to the societal beauty standard. Another example of ³women objectifying other women´ is teasing among girls. Teasing brings hurtful words to a girl who is fat, ugly or dark. Because of teasing, girls would then be hurt little by little and she would then struggle to conform to the beauty standard of the society. Men are not the only instigator of women objectification; women are also part of it. In a Feminist Perspective Feminists argue that women are seen as objects and not as persons with emotions, feelings and identity. Their bodies are often used in advertisement as objects and are thus, subjected to defamation (Bordo, 1993). The researcher takes a stand with the feminists and agrees that women are marginalized in the society because of women objectification. First of all, women are being demoralized because their bodies, which are the temple of the Holy Spirit, are dismembered and are used to advertise clothes, alcoholic drinks, brassieres and much other stuff. They are seen as either a face, a leg, a breast or a curve. Advertisements do not give a damn to what these women feel. They just use them to sell, which is the main reason as to why companies exists. Secondly, the researcher believes that a woman¶s existence is more than just being objectified. Women are mothers, women are wives, women are sisters, women are professionals, and women are everything. Without them, a society cannot function effectively because if there are no women, there would be no child-bearers, thus the society would eventually decay. Women should step up from this bondage of objectification that limits their self-esteem and confidence. They should learn that even if they did not conform to the standards of the society, women are always accepted no matter what. So, the researcher, as a feminist, sees a pressing need to eradicate women to this bondage of the society, to free them to the chains that held them by the arm, the chains that dictate what is beautiful or not. They need to be free because women should realize that they have their own minds and so they can think independently and intelligently, they are not persons that just tag

along with the game of the society, they are also human with a proper mind that can decide what is good or bad, beautiful or not, and right or wrong.

CONCLUSION Advertisements of the Media are indeed a definite way to exploit a woman¶s body. They not just tend to idealize the female body, but they have also created a wall that defines who are the beautiful persons and who are not. This type of notion impedes the balance of the society in the justification of the roles of men and women. In the traditional society, men are leaders and women are submissive, in the modern society and in today¶s society, men and women are both leaders and they both have the liberty to live their life independently. But what happens? Because of the notion of Objectification of Women, women who should be leaders just like the men are subjected to scrutiny and thus, they malfunction and submit to the standard of societal beauty to find their worth. They are afraid that if they don¶t adhere to the standards, they would be left out and no one would pay attention to them. Think of women as seedlings of flowers. They are nurtured according to the society¶s standards, if you are a sunflower, you should be yellow and beautiful, if you are a rose, you should be radiantly red and attention-seeking, if you are a daisy, you should be dainty and pretty but if you are a seedling and grows un beautifully with lack of radiance and aroma and is just left to wither, gardeners would picked you up and throw you away, people would not care for you and they would divert their attention to other things more beautiful than you. What the researcher tries to point out is that as a female, we should not let these things happen to us. If sunflowers are supposed to be yellow, and we are born as a sunflower seedling, we should not let the lack of sunlight impedes our growth, we should learn to device and think independently ± then if there is a lack of sunlight that would not help us become a beautiful yellow sunflower, we should try to move around and manipulate things, there may be a lack in sunlight in our place but if we know how to still move forward, we may grow into a little blue sunflower ± not conforming to the standards but is definitely unique and deserves attention. In conclusion, objectification of women may bring bad effects but if they could step out and define their own standards and worth, they can be able to justify their worth as woman without being subjected to scrutiny, teasing and discrimination.


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