When did objectification become a real symbol of empowerment for women? Why is our most accepted archetype of femininity sexual, and more importantly, since when did society buy into all this?
When I first became aware of Ariana Grande it was before the time that Little Mix changed their personas from quirky but cool young women to leather-clad sex symbols. I bought into Ariana’s cute and girly hyper sexuality, but the head-fuck truly hit me when I realised her audience were mainly children and this only came to the world’s attention after the Manchester Arena bombing, which although truly evil was a painful reflection of the tensions involved around femininity (whatever that may be) in today’s world.
The most destructive pop stars are those styled as overly sexualised versions of their audience – children. More so if they happen to look like children, cosmetically enhanced and dressed in bondage like Ariana’s latex bunny ears that are meant to ’empower women’. The bunny ears are her symbol as a self proclaimed ‘Superbunny’, the most subservient and submissive symbol of a woman selling herself for the benefit of the male ego.
The sad and frustrating reality is that women lose respect when hyper-sexualisation becomes the new ideal of femininity. Reported rapes have doubled in four years while conviction rates have fallen. There are a number of negative psychological outcomes including eating disorders, anxiety, and depression and research shows it also affects how they’re treated and viewed by adults.
One study found that people who viewed a photo of a ten-year old girl in highly sexualised clothing (a short dress and leopard print cardigan) rated her as less intelligent and less moral than people who viewed her in less sexualised clothing. Interestingly, participants didn’t think that one girl would suffer less than the other from the bullying. They simply cared less about the welfare of the girl when she was portrayed in an objectified way.
It seems that today’s sexuality isn’t about a reciprocal exchange of love. It isn’t even about femininity. We don’t really know what empowering sexuality means anymore and if adults can’t agree on it then kids are completely lost.
Yes, women should be able to wear what they like and not be judged on it or suffer any adverse consequences because of it, but if they are at an innocent age and encouraged to dress sexually, brainwashed into believing their most empowering outfit is underwear/bunny ears, then that comes close to child abuse.