October 26, 2014

On "Sex Appeal"

     Over the last 16 years, I have been raised in a culture where modesty is important.  Because of being a "Mormon" I am almost hyper aware of how I dress or come across.  My parents raised me to see that my body was something sacred and not to be flaunted before the world.

     Now something I find hard, in this world that I grow up in, is that modesty is something that is not taken for granted, or expected.  This I understand.  Most of the time cultures lacking my standards is fine.  The world may be what it will, I will still be me.  However, something I do take issue with and find offensive is the prevalence of online images made to be immodest and sensual.  I am not talking necessarily about pornography, or explicit images.  I am simply talking about all the fandom made images, video game characters, genera models, advertising in general, and media in which the woman are obviously there for sex appeal.

     I find it hard to be barraged constantly by pictures of singers, actresses, models and "sexy" video game characters.  Through these pictures woman are told many different things.  When a friend says, "I just love playing this character!" and proceeds to show you pictures of a tall looking woman who has large breasts, an abnormally thin waist, and a large... rump, I can't help wincing. Then to see this character, with the body proportions that men seem to want, fighting battles and doing it while in a skin tight dress is more then disheartening.

     The problem for me is that even if you aren't viewing porn you see women being objectified online ALL the time.  This leads me to wonder how a real relationship will ever work in the future.  As a Mormon, I am who I am, people may objectify me in their own minds, but I shall never let myself be used as an object.  However, I still feel a pang knowing I can never measure up to what is portrayed online and in our larger American culture.  I am a real girl, and as such I have hair that doesn't look silky, and when the wind blows it all wants to go into my mouth.  I am average height exactly, my curves aren't even in the range of online gaming characters curves, I wear normal clothes,  and I don't fight monsters... and the thing is it hurts.  Through these images I see what many males would consider the "ideal" woman, and I am far from it body wise, activity wise, and not to mention dress wise.

     I have nothing against gaming (in moderation).  I have nothing against woman being allowed to dress how they will.  I do take issue with the fact that I can see how easily it would be to "undress" many video game characters.  I find it hard to believe that any man will seek for a worthwhile, and meaningful relationship in the future, because why should he?  Why should you go for the real thing, when the fake thing has everything you'd like to see and is so much less work?  Because of media and gaming I at least feel a layer of distress, and stress added to my life as I watch my friends spend hours playing with these "perfectly" formed and appealing characters.

     No woman is just her body, and I find it unfortunate that inadvertently boys and men put such stress on the physical.


  1. This is an important topic that I feel our society needs to deal with more. Your post on feminism and sex appeal are closely related. The media has way more influence than they should and in many cases are swayed by what they think people want to hear. I was perusing one of the more influential newspapers (OK, so it was really an app), and was shocked at how much it resembled one of those cheap papers you see while waiting in the grocery store line - more interested in shocking and entertaining then actually presenting information that is newsworthy. Anyway, thanks for the insights!

  2. Loved reading your thoughts on this. It's something that all women, young and old, struggle a little bit with. I absolutely HATE the ads that use sexy women to sell products (Case in point; Carls Jr!) However, don't you worry a minute about not being the "ideal" woman as portrayed in the media. You are much more than that! Thanks for your thoughts....very wise words from a woman so young.

  3. How did I not know you had a blog? I have lots of reading to catch up on.

    Sadly, the male brain is physically constructed such that this kind of thing is a benefit to people who make video games, movies, commercials, ads, and so on.

    I wish we lived in a society where that fact wasn't taken advantage of. Sometimes it seems people like us who live more... responsibly?... are in the minority.

    1. It's an amazing process to watch them mature and become more than you ever thought you could hope for. :) miss you dear friend!

  4. it's interesting that you chose to discuss avatars in the gaming world as an example of the objectification of woman (i wholeheartedly agree with you, btw). i have a dear aunt whose husband left her because he became obsessed with another woman's online gaming "persona." ironically, the other woman looked, in the flesh, quite similar to my aunt. but the damage had been done... my uncle had become fixated on an ideal of womanly physicality that was simply not realistic - for my aunt or anyone else.

    it reminds me of when lara croft: video game character became lara croft: movie star (as portrayed my angelina jolie) a number of years ago. i don't think it's a stretch to say that most people would not call ms. jolie "unendowed," but instead would agree that she has a fairly enviable figure. and yet, in order to portray lara croft on screen, she had to pad her bust. however, the decision was made not to pad her heavily enough to reach lara croft: video game character's actual "measurements," because they felt doing so would have looked "too unrealistic." it's a sad day when hollywood becomes the voice of reason regarding the portrayal of the female body.

    i think it's so refreshing when catalogs and magazines (and other forms of media, too) chose to portray woman of all shapes and sizes. we need more occurrences of such visual normalcy in the media and so i think it's important to voice our positive support of media outlets who chose to represent womanhood as a whole and not just as an ideal.

    once again, good topic and well-said! sis. vance

    1. I didn't know that about Angelina Jolie/Lara Croft. Thanks for sharing!
      I am glad you read and thought about it.

  5. I just wrote about 4 paragraphs as a response and when I logged it, it was all deleted. :(
    To sum it up as much as possible - I agree. The perpetual objectification of women is a constant struggle, but it's one that we individually have the power to overcome. We can choose to be comfortable in our own bodies, and the women who achieve this are important examples to the younger generations who especially struggle with it.
    It's important to remember that we are not here to please other people; we aren't here to reach any man's standard of what they believe should be "normal". The magazine model's proportions are FAR from normal, and even more, not realistic or authentic. They are photoshopped.
    Always remember that you can be an example to everyone who struggles with their self-worth (which, by the way, should never be measured by one's physical appearance). It only takes ONE woman who is confident in her own body to influence countless other girls who need to understand that we get to choose how we feel about ourselves, and the media and men and other women do not get to dictate that for us.

    I love you more than words, and you are a beautiful shining star in this world.

    1. Thank you for your comment!
      I am sorry... sometimes it does that with comments. Rather frustratingly. :/
      I agree with everything you said here. Thank you for sharing.

      I love you too! You are a wonderful person.

  6. Reposting from that other place. :3
    First off, very interesting, as always. This issue is one I come across rather frequently, and oddly enough, your opinion is shared by both female AND male gamers alike. So why does it happen?
    When I see an add for a game that features nothing but a female protagonist in a revealing outfit, my usual reaction is to roll my eyes and forever blacklist the game developer. My reasons are as follows:
    As an ex-game-designer, I know that making the perfect woman is easy. The so-called "Ideal Woman" is little more than a collection of geometric shapes, and the closer the character fits to a preexisting shape, the easier it is to quickly produce for a game. "Flawed" characters are much more difficult, and usually take months of extra development just to add something as simple as a scar or messy hair. In other words, "work".
    Furthermore, the less armor the character wears, the less time one has to spend programming the magnets and jiggle-bones required to make it all look real.
    With this in mind, one quickly sees that fantastic game-princess as what she really is; a shoddy collection of pixels attacking the male base-nature and hoping our other senses will just go along for the ride (and not ask too many questions). It's like the developers have given up all hope of making a good game and just turned the whole thing into a lazy pin-up show.
    Add to that the inherent attraction this gives the product in the eyes of men just looking to be mindlessly entertained, and you really see exactly how desperate these people are.

    1. Thank you for reposting.
      I really agree appreciate what you have to say on this.
      My favorite thing you said has to be, "one quickly sees that fantastic game-princess as what she really is; a shoddy collection of pixels attacking the male base-nature and hoping our other senses will just go along for the ride".
      Thank you for your thoughts. :D

    2. I am almost comfortable with you Ben. :) That is saying a lot.

  7. I agree with you. As a guy, I always find over-sexualized characters sorta creepy. They're twisted to fit my "desires" or whatever. It passes to the uncanny level for me, if you know what I mean. There's nothing wrong with having an attractive character, but I prefer girls that are sorta...normal.

    I don't think the majority of men are sexist--in fact, in a lot of fan-drawings and fanfiction male characters usually have abs and look cute (i.e. the opposite of me). And frankly, I have zero interest in dating a CGI woman for the rest of my days (and so do many other men, actually). Just throwing that one out there.


  8. This is obviously a very important issue to talk about. And I enjoy seeing a growing women’s empowerment in the world. I also like to see the definition of beauty expanding.

    I understand the media is doing damage to the public ideals of sex and beauty. I understand the issues that arise for women are low self esteem. I understand those that arise for men who objectify women. I understand all of that can be contributed to the media. But the truth is, the media is not really responsible for how we feel about ourselves and others. They aren’t responsible for raising our children. Perhaps they should take more responsibility. Perhaps they should be more honorable. But they are a machine designed to make money, and sex makes money.

    I am a man. I like women. I enjoy seeing a beautiful woman on TV. I like seeing women in magazines and video games. But I also like more realistically beautiful women. I’m able to understand the woman in the magazine is photoshopped, but it’s still a nice image. I like looking at them. The key is to keep everything in context. I know when I look at a video-game character, that she was designed in a computer by nerdy men to trick me into playing their game. Maybe it will work, and maybe it won’t. But I don’t hold women in the real world to standards that don’t exist. Women are humans. They are kindred spirits inside a body made of the same cosmic dust as me. They have pores and pimples and cellulite and hair growing on their legs, and so do I. I think it’s wonderful; two real humans getting together and falling in love is a beautiful thing. I think most men would agree with me.

    Still though, there is a huge problem and it’s easy to point the finger at the media. The truth is, the problem doesn’t originate from media, it originates from us, the consumers. Media only displays these things because we want to see it. They are feeding us the candy we want to eat, and so is it their fault when we get unhealthy? No it’s not. They are taking advantage of the problem and weakness that we already have. (cont'd)

    1. Scott I most hardely agree with you on this one! Raising children and especially a son in this tricky work. I have felt similar distaste at the huge lack of communication about healthy, awesome sexual relationships. The culture in our church seems to stifle and shove it away even further. I don't have a grown son yet, but I do have a 14 year old red blooded man child. We have open healthy discussions about his body, apitites regularly and have for years. I never want him to feel shame about being the way he was created to feel. Our bodies are powerful tools for love and hurt, it is our job as parents to guide our children into a healthier sexual future. Miss you.

  9. In my opinion, the real problem is how we treat the subject of sex. Sex is the weirdest subject in the world because we are ALL obsessed with it, to one degree or another, yet it is the least talked about thing I can think of. THE most universal and emotionally complex subject in the human race, and yet we get little to no real education about it. Children are bombarded with sexual images on an hourly basis, and yet probably talk about sex with an adult once or twice in their entire lives.

    Of course, I was once a pubescent teenage male (the epitome of human sexual confusion) and I have NEVER ONCE talked to my parents about sex. Not one single time. And yet, I thought about it every minute. Craved it like a starving animal, visually ingested all pornography I could find, and never talked about it with an experienced adult. I went through the guilt, the shame, and the weirdness all by myself. It’s no wonder our views of sex are broken. We don’t put anything into context. Kids are watching porn, and think they are seeing what sex is because it is the ONLY context through which they view sex. My parents are amazing, but it would have helped me so much if they sat me down and said, “Hey, porn is just a movie. It’s not real, just like Star Wars isn’t real. It’s fantasy for entertainment. Here’s what sex is. Here’s what sex should be like. This is who women are. Here’s what you should look for. Here’s the kind of sexual man you should strive to be.”

    If parents are unwilling to educate their kids about sex, I’d love to see a sex education class that lasts for more than a week and covers more than just biology. Also covering the psychology behind how we feel, so we aren’t such puppets to media and can distinguish reality from fantasy. Educate and strengthen our consciousness of ourselves so that we are less self-conscious. But nobody is going to support that, cause the logic is “the more kids know about sex, the more they will be stupid and have it. Knowledge will make them dumber!” That logic is so moronic, it’s painful.

    Sexualization of the media is not making us dumber or worse people, it’s taking advantage of how dumb we are. It’s filling an unnecessary void with broken things. So my solution would be to fill the void with truth and substance, and the broken things will bounce away into the garbage where they belong.

    Anyway, to respond to your post and offer you some advice. In my experience with love (which has yet to be completely successful), it is the uniqueness of the two people coming together that makes it fun. In other words, its not about how you compare to other people physically, but it’s your unique combination of irregularities that attract people to you in a meaningful and worthwhile way.

    I think you’re pretty cool. Keep on doing what you’re doing. Miss you guys.

    1. Scott, I love both of your comments.
      I appreciate what you say about it not just being the media's fault. It is the consumers fault just as much for not speaking up, or (literally) not buying into it. My problem is just as much with consumers as the producers. Do the screwed up ideas of a game producer hurt me? Yes. But what hurts infinitely more, and what I feel I spoke to just a bit in this blogpost, is my friends who embrace it.
      I too think it is odd that people don't talk about sex more. It is difficult for children, and teens to manage something wisely if no one speaks of it in general.
      Thank you for your thoughts. I think you're pretty cool too, and I miss you as well.

  10. This post makes me ever more greatful for the honor it is to be raising you. We'll let's be honest your almost done with that phase. I apriciate your frustrations and have watched how it has hurt you. You are an amazing woman and I am sure you will continue to become even stronger.