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Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Sexy Badass Women

Unless you're living under a rock, you'll have heard of the terms 'sexualisation' and 'objectification.' They're typically used by feminists claiming that women in media are presented in ways that accentuate their sexual features, playing to the 'male gaze', thus reducing women to sex objects.

Last year I wrote a post titled 'Sexual Objectification?' which is mostly confused. I see nothing offensive about a woman in fiction or the media being portrayed as sexually desirable and attractive. Women ARE attractive creatures. In evolutionary terms, women make ourselves look good in order to attract males for procreation. I also think women make each other look good because they know other women are going to be judging them. (In some cultures it's the men that make themselves look good and dress up, so I'm specifically talking about Western/Anglo-American culture.) Bottom line is; women like making ourselves hot, whether for ourselves or the lads. Just ask the cosmetics and fashion industries. 

Catwoman and Lara Croft are two examples of 'sexy, badass women.' I have a Catwoman comic - I love cats, and like Selena Kyle's alluring and tough character, so bought it. My brother joked 'TRIGGERED!' because the cover features Catwoman having large breasts. It's true. She has big breasts, Lara Croft has big breasts. Women have breasts, and some of us have larger ones, some have smaller ones. I don't really give a shit about the size of Catwoman's breasts - she's a cartoon, and there is a lot more to her character than simply her sex appeal.
Yes Anita, I'm talking to you. 
What is so wrong with having sex appeal anyway? Lara Croft and Catwoman are both complex, intelligent, down-to-earth and independent. Lara Croft is an adventurous archaeologist, and Catwoman is a jewel-thieving anti-heroine. I think it's pretty sad that Sarkessian a person could point to them and ignore all of the deeply cool things about their character and go 'ERRR! YOU CAN SEE SHE HAS A NICE BODY! SEXUAL OBJECTIFICATION!!!' 

Logically, these women would have well-toned athletic physiques anyway from all that jumping and climbing and running and fighting they do. It wouldn't make sense for them to be fat and do what they do. But: athletic women do tend to have smaller breasts due to working out so much and wearing sports bras which flatten down the breast tissue. So realistically, these women who were very athletic and fought a lot in real life probably wouldn't be likely to have massive bazungas, however marketing. They're being marketed primarily to young boys, who want to see hot women with big tits, like it or not. (In the same way that Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner in Twilight were made to look attractive; appealing to young girls).

There's also the element of sexy female characters often being called 'whores' or 'femme fatales'; the alluring, 'bad' girl showcasing her sexuality going against the shining 'good' girl who covers it up. Isn't it positive to have sexually attractive female characters who aren't necessarily portrayed as 'evil femme fatales'? Examples include Wonder Woman, Lara Croft, Princess Leia, Esmeralda, Jessica Rabbit, Francine Smith, Betty Boop. Isn't female sexuality better to be portrayed positively as opposed to 'dirty' or 'dark' or 'dangerous'?

But it isn't just fictional characters. Actresses, singers, dancers; the media always wants to bitch about how 'Beyonce can't be a feminist because she shakes her arse' or 'Rihanna is a scantily clad slut.' I thought feminism was supposed to be about sexual freedom and choice? If a famous woman chooses to show her body off because she's comfortable and proud to do so then why is that a problem? Why is a woman showcasing sex appeal somehow 'anti-feminist'?

I understand the element of women having had to work hard to be accepted into the work place, and wanting to be seen as whole people rather than as 'sex objects.' For example, a woman working as a doctor, lawyer or physician would need to be taken seriously rather than have her co-workers make unwanted sexual advances towards her. This is why they have to wear a certain uniform. Like many things, this boils down to context. Entertainers are there to put on a show; they can dress 'freer' than those in other professions. Just ask Prince, Bowie or Hendrix (in Heaven).

It's very possible to be sexually attracted to someone yet also take them seriously as a person. Know how I know that? Because people do it everyday with their romantic partners. You're sexually attracted to your partner - hopefully, otherwise I'd feel pretty sad for them - but you also value their personality and their mind. Why can't one find a cartoon character or an actress sexually attractive whilst also appreciating their personality? At the end of the day, people read comics and play video games for the experience and the story. If it was all about sex appeal, they'd go watch porn.

End Note: Male cartoon characters are also designed in ways that showcase their bodies having athletic and attractive physiques. Look at Superman, Batman, Hulk, Thor, Barbie's Ken, He-Man. They all have insanely large muscles or six packs and V-lines. So it's not only the women that are designed to have sex appeal. This all relates to the consumerist market of people being drawn to characters that are sexually appealing in some way. 

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I'm Zarina Macha, an author, blogger, and musician from London. I write about stuff on the internet 'cos having opinions is fun -- if you want to join the games, please note your thoughts below. All thoughts welcome, even if they're mean (just no spam links please -- can't tell you what a liability those are to remove).
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