The other night after dinner I let my kids watch a bedtime movie so I could clean the kitchen. First we chose a Jim Carry comedy about a superhero, as the kids had heard it was really funny. I gave a hesitant ok and popped in and out of the living room to make sure it was suitable.
At a certain point there was scene in a lounge with a female singer in a sparkly dress “purring” a little to confidentially to the men in the audience. My 9 year old daughter said right away, “Mom, her dress is too short.” “Yeah, kinda more like pajamas,” I agreed. “She’s being inappropriate,” stated my 7 year old bluntly, as the woman continued in the manner of an overly friendly cat, rubbing up against people. “Let’s change it,” concluded my 9 year old. So we did.
Figuring it would be a safer bet, especially for the younger ones, we switched to a cartoon. An adventure story about archeologists. Surely this would be fine, right? Again I popped in and out to make sure while tidying the kitchen. I came in to the following scene:
A slightly nerdy looking guy, the main character, having a discussion with a slim woman with glasses and a pony tale. There was some dangerous adventure to be had, and he objected to her going alone. Then from the other room she asked if he was offering to come along. He hummed and hawed until she reappeared, now in her “archeology outfit” which consisted of little jean shorts and a small, revealing tank top. Her glasses were also removed. All his hesitation disappeared, and no surprise: of course, he was coming!
Perhaps kids won’t really notice this subtly sexual joke, likely put in there for the adults watching, but what message does it actually send to girls? Guys won’t be willing to make sacrifices for you because of your friendship or your brains, but you can be sure they’ll do anything for your boobs. Great! And we really think feminism has advanced so far…
Whether or not women’s bodies are being presented as sources of power and control over men (again, this is a manipulative rather than healthy message), the fact is what seems to matter about women is their parts…the pieces of their bodies that interest men. Perhaps brains are also presented as a good thing, but only as long as they come in a pretty package.
Parts. Packages. Juicy bits. What are we talking about here? Cars, internet bundles, steaks? Things. We are still talking about women as if they were things instead of people. This is objectification. Do we want our daughters to be objectified?
What really matters about women is that they are people, and like men, each one of them is unique, irreplaceable, and worthy of love and respect. Tell me Hollywood, when are you going to grow up enough to share this message? It is one of true beauty and of hope for relationships that actually respect each person as a person, and just not a set of spare parts to be used for fun…until a better model comes along.