For me this is a really tough question to answer. Speaking as a heterosexual male it's a bit of a double standard. On the one hand, objectification of women and the constant sexualization of women in the majority of media around us is, I think, overwhelmingly bad for us as a society (and I've talked at great length about this subject in the past). But on the other hand there's absolutely nothing wrong with being attracted to women or finding them sexy. Speaking from a male perspective of course, this concept can be applied to how both men and women see things.
I think our tendency to over simplify things is why so many people don't take feminists seriously, because there's this belief that all feminists want to get rid of sexy female characters from media and replace them with ball-busting angry women. And that's not true. Sexy characters are used to damaging affect against women in real life, but being sexy is not a bad thing in and of itself. It's ok to be attracted to women, while also acknowledging the very real problem of women being overly sexualized and presented as objects for men to gawk over. I know that seems like hypocrisy, and maybe it is, but it's a very real truth.
Here's one thing I know gets brought up a lot. You don't have to have women presented nearly naked to be attractive. Women can wear clothing or armor and still be considered "hot." And it doesn't need to be form fitting either. The way in which a piece of clothing is worn and expressed by the person is what's attractive. This blog on tumblr is one of my favorites because it shows how women in the industry are presented, vs how they could still be viewed as attractive without making them half-naked all the time. I strongly recommend you check it out: repair-her-armor.tumblr.com/
And I think that's ultimately what this comes down to... the way in which sexuality is used. A very good example that MovieBob made involves Ivy from the Soul Calibur series. For the most part she dresses ridiculously with absurd outfits and an over-proportioned body to boot: fronttowardsgamer.com/wp-conte… But that's not inherently objectification as ALL the characters within the Soul Calibur series are ridiculously over stylized to the point of extremes. That's kinda Soul Calibur's weird little universe it's created, and there are often different more modest costumes you can pick and chose if you desire.
However, this advertisement campaign iplaywinner.com/storage/oneuse… for Soul Calibur 5 is objectifying because it reduces Ivy to nothing but her breasts. Her face is intentionally cropped out and the snake leading into her chest is obviously meant to be phallic shaped. There's no other subtext to this advertisement other than "imagine your dick here." That's degrading no matter who the character is suppose to be.
One of the problems with the complexity of life is that we can't blanket statement everything. Exceptions always exist. But we also can't explore every exception, because that just takes up too much energy and brain power to comprehend at times. So we're kinda stuck in this in-between realm where with one breath we can be standing up for women's rights and denouncing those who don't, then in the next breath fawning and appreciating the attractiveness of women. Here in America it's kinda a taboo, but we shouldn't be afraid of sexuality.
I'll be honest. I have no answer for this. Like I said, it's a ridiculous double standard and even slightly hypocritical at times... but there it is. Women can be objectified, but they can also be very attractive and sexy. What are your thoughts? What defines the difference between objectification of women (or men), and finding women (or men) sexy/attractive? Is there a middle ground or is it just extremes on both sides? Is there a solution to this problem? I am very curious to know what you all think about this subject because I haven't yet formed a solid enough idea myself and would love to hear from all sides if possible.
- Reading: The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia
- Watching: Doctor Who
- Playing: Minecraft: Nerdcrafteria
- Eating: Yes
- Drinking: No
Weird, I see something completely different. Face is cropped to bring focus to her mouth, which obviously symbolizes "Command".
Serpent symbolizes "Power" just as red colour.
Weird fur clothes symbolize "Wealth".
The mouth shape indicates cruelty and decadence.
Exposed breasts also indicate sexuality.
Looking at the poster, it's obvious to me that it's a (platform?) game, where the player plays a flashgordonesque character that is imprisoned in a castle/dungeon where he has to perform various heroic tasks and is subjected to sexual abuse and torture for gratification of the person presented on the poster.
As much as I'm usually hesitant to come into these kinds of discussions, I was glad to stumble upon this journal of yours, because you really do sound like you want to approach this topic with a more understanding and open-minded view than most people I've encountered. Like you, I don't claim to know the answer to this overly complex issue, because I'm just one person in a world filled with billions of different opinions and viewpoints. To respond to your first criteria, you are correct; there is no requirement that a woman needs to be half-naked in order to be attractive or sexy, even if those things are what I do personally like regarding women. As someone whose doing his best to be sex-positive, I'm am doing what I can to promote and encourage the increasing diversity of body types, character designs, attires, and different views of sexuality. To leads to my next assessment. You see, increasing diversity of character design is only half the battle; you can have a female character be dressed head to foot in full-covered armor, but if she's a flat character(in terms of personality and character development), then she's still going to be a flat character no matter how you dress her up; this speaks more to issue of how women are often written in fiction, not solely just how they're designed. I do believe it's possible to have a female characters that are like Mai Shiranui, Ivy Valentine, and Lara Croft in terms of body types and clothing choices while also still being a fully-fleshed out 3-dimensional character with her own personality, goals, and motivations. What this means is that not only do we need to have more diversity, variety, and options in character designs and clothing choices, but we also need to have better written characters, and thus having better written and more engaging stories. Last here are my thoughts on your last two paragraphs; sexuality is a very confusing and complicated subject. Sexuality is about a wide range of things, and I think that includes what we find appealing about ourselves as well as what we find appealing in those who we are attracted. You're right about the contradicting realm that society seems to celebrate and yet at the same time taboos sexuality, and that's going for both the status quo and the activism that's trying to challenge it. As someone who admits to liking the fanservicey stuff that's often shown in fictional medium, I'm often given the idea from people that "Yeah, it's okay to like this stuff... but what you like is still really awful and you should feel bad." and that really does not help me in trying to develop my own sexuality. Trying to be inclusive for other people is good, but I think it's very self-denying to believe that no one ever wants something to be made that caters to their interests, and sex and sexuality shouldn't be any different in that regard. I know that kinda sounds undermined given that society is built by people like me for people like me, but I don't think that makes it any less true; it should be something that's worth considering. We need a better of sexuality, to not be afraid to explore it as well as understanding other people's views and experiences. I think that if we are to make positive changes, we should at least try to compromise together, rather than form an us vs them mentality that's running rampant among the status quo and the activists who are trying to challenge it. I do believe that the fanservice that's oversaturated in our society has a right to exist and have a place in the world, but I also do think that it should be much more limited than it currently is, especially so that alternatives and different ideas can rise to share the spotlight in more mainstream media. We also need to be more understanding and accepting(or at least tolerating) of people's different views and preferences, because there is always going to be people who like things that we may not(and are often conflate them with as inherently bad). So yeah, more increase in diversity, variety, and options, better written characters and stories, and more understanding of ourselves and other people. It might not fix the problem completely or even by itself, but I do think it's at least a step in the right direction. Again, I don't claim to know the right answer to this overly complex issue. I'm just someone who wants to share my thoughts on this as you have kindly asked.
Sexuality in drawings or photography is when the woman is being portrayed as being sexy but the drawing has something or somethings that people who aren't turned on by it all can like.
Objectification in any art from is when the woman is being portrayed as a thing you can imagine putting you dick into and absolutely nothing else.
My thoughts? Personally, I scaffold heterosexual aesthetic attraction into three tiers. First level is purely platonic, and that is the "cute" stage. Second stage is transitional/transcendental, and that is the "beauty" stage. Last stage is the erotic stage, the vaunted "sexy" stage that modern America is so hung up over. I think the slider should be kept at the Beauty phase. A lot of folks fetishise cute, which gets downright creepy. (Just think of school-girl uniforms.) Get too hung up on the sexiness and you end up with a throbbing rape culture: men with too much testosterone and not enough brain cells, and women dressing up like broads who are just going to be raped in an alleyway by the end of the next R-Kellie debut.
The Greeks had five cascading levels of love. Storge, philios, epithumia, eros and agape. That is: familial, camaraderie, eroticism, romanticism and Platonism.
Myself, I think that the media should have no place in redefining sexual mores. It has ended in oblique disaster. Body dysmorphic disorder, bulimia, anorexia, otherexia. The West has become a virulent mess. If a more realistic, organic sexuality were pushed, than we wouldn't see so much depravity. Much though people complain, in the 40s-60s the media showed representative types, arguably. Granted, they showed fine specimens, but did not attempt to transmogrify the latent morality of culture. Since cultural Marxism took root in the late 60s, we see media actively redefining mores. Now people try to emulate the media, rather than the media trying to emulate people.
This inversion of reality serves to ground people in a mass dissociative disorder which impacts virtually all strata of social existence. But that's probably some jive talk for a different little white comment box.
To give an idea, Barbie is really unrealisic and a bit sexualised; but the solution to her is not the unhygenic and foul-mouthed Feral Sheryl doll! The ideal doll would have a normal build, a face that you'd see on a pleasant natured ordinary girl in the street, and yes, she would have breasts. Just normal breasts that aren't pushed on you by their unrealism - but not just that. I've seen realistic enough portrayals of women - where there was something very sexualised in the essense of them (maybe the drawing style? it was definietely in the creator's minds), which was quite independent of the proportions of their breasts or what they were wearing.
Which brings me to your point I don't agree with - the putting together of two unrelated but often confused things - that wearing anything where you can at all see any of a woman's body (eg her stomach) must equal sexualised. Not true in the slightest. I've seen (many) highly, highly sexualised portrayals of women, who were very 'covered up'; and I've seen many of women in everything your definition would consider 'sexualised', such as a bikini, who have been completely normal.
The point is, it's not what you wear, it's how you wear it.
To make a character attractive - and this goes for male and female - is to start with a likeable personality. (This can include the appealing, bad-tempered mavericks who leave trails of destruction and chaos in their wake - it doesn't have to mean traditional heros.) Then, create a face that expresses that. (Having an expressive face will set your character apart from most others, as the million variations of "pout" are far too common.) This really sells your character. Now, prefably by doing some research on the closest real-world type of person to that personality you can find, conclude what sort of body type they have. So yes they may be sort of flat and skinny, or they may be chubby and - oh oh! shock horror etc - have larger breasts; that doesn't mean sexualised either - unless the designers go out to make them look sexualised. Finally, dress them as they would choose. If that means wearing something where you can see their stomach, that's what it will be! And it is time that people stop thinking that's sexualised. (Because knee-length skirts were considered sexualised when they initially appeared too. It's a combination of not-used-to-it-so-we-hate-it and seeing only a few slutty types dare to wear it - because of this pathetic reaction that the normal types got when they tried it, which put them off trying it again!)
Which comes back to the main question - how do you define the difference between attractive (as in pleasant, normal, appealing) and sexualised? One thing to start with, though I repeat myself, mixing up 'attractive' (as in not grotesque and repulsive) with sexualised/sexuality/whatever - a very large error.
It's very easy for me to cite examples of what isn't sexualised and what is, but much harder to come up with a definition - perhaphs partly because any hard-and-fast rules have the same problem as the famous '7 rules for determining an unjust law'. Someone once showed me that those rules could easily be used to support dictatorship if someone came at them from the wrong viewpoint and enough bad values. Same thing here. I can see why people go back to ridiculous rules like 'if she's not wearing a circus tent then she must be sexualised'.
So I will cite some examples. A recent website-hoster ad - very sexualised but the woman's clothes had nothing to do with it - proved when it looked no different when it was cropped to a close face-only shot. What made it sexualised was her expression - that sort of awful stripper-pout that I have never seen in an unposed/real picture - ever. So that gives you an idea - it was not the height of her front (yes, that would have been put down unfairly as 'sexualised') but how she acted that was sexualised. Exactly the same thing in computer games. Old-style Laura Croft is not sexualised because she wears shorts or a top that fits; she is sexualised becauase her creators set out to make her that way, from her expression to even the way they made her body itself.
TV show from the '80s. Woman, very much wearing a very very 'not sexualised' dress, was being very very sexualised. Why? Because she was flirting, posing, posturing and trying to lead the hero on. Do you see the pattern?
(Incidentally, I think this may mistake may be deliberate on some people's part. The idea that 'using your feminitity' (that is, flirting, leading people on, and using that to control and manipulate people) is somehow feminist seems to be quite popular. Probably partly because it works very well (kind of a Faustian Bargain - sell your soul to get what you want). So in order to divert attention, so noone calls this Real Sexualisation of women, (of everyone, actually), as exactly that - instead a scapegoat must be found to divert attention, and that to be called Sexualised instead.)
Anyway, I believe the reasons there isn't a yes or no answer to this discussion is because everyone has their own gauge of what's sexy. You could have a bikini model alongside a fully clothed business women and there's always going to be someone who thinks both are sexy. It doesn't have to get to the point of blatant eroticism, it all depends on how the woman presents themselves. Personally, I'd look at the business woman and if all she does is give me sly smile, I'd think that's sexy. And what most people would classify as objectification, I'd classify as camp or boring; the King of Fighters fan in me finds Mai Shiranui nowhere near as sexy as any other member of the female cast.
Personally, I would take the two, but identify the woman in the suit as the one who is sexualized because her actions are much more provocative. If the bikini model just acts normally, then she's just acting normally. Sure she looks sexy, but...so what? She's just another woman in a swimsuit, nothing special there really. The woman in the business suit however is putting action into her presentation and her actions would be blatant to the point that they're sexualized in my view. Maybe the reason I wouldn't find the average bikini model completely sexualized is I'm at an age and maturity level where I'd view a woman in a bikini acting normally and I wouldn't lust over her like most guys would.
In short, when the character has heart and personality in her/him and exists for something else than only to look attractive, it's not objectifying in my opinion.
Which is the complete opposite, because you can look sexy in more modest clothes, or own your sexuality without resorting to boob jobs and wearing nothing. Personally, I think men look sexier in suits than in speedos, but that's just my viewpoint I suppose.
So I guess my point is, it's not a problem to view people as sexy. It is a problem to view them as sexy only if they conform to a specific, non-realistic dress/body shape.
What is presented to the masses as 'there is no other beautiful or sexy' is the concept of the flirting, pouting woman. I have seen them in bikinis, and I have seen them in 'modest' clothes, and they are still sexualised. That is what is common to the portrayal of women in computer games - the awful way of acting that is all flirt. Yes, sometimes it is obscured - like in a romance book, the heroine is always unwilling to be interested in there hero at the start. Here it is often the supposedly 'fiesty' heroine, who is supposed to be uninterested in the hero to begin with but is really (romance book style!) just acting bitchy to lead him on. This is also a real danger to real women - it teaches men that a woman saying "no" is just a an invitation to pursue her.
I also think your continual references to anything less than what a crinoline-and-corset-era person would consider to be 'usual', as "nearly naked/wearing nothing", is part of the problem. As well as being utter rubbish, it also conviently obscures the real problem - what I have just mentioned, the flirting, pouting, slutting, 'modestly dressed' woman (or man), who weirdly is never considered at all sexualised. They are always called 'sensual', 'feminine', 'smouldering', etc. I have seen it with REAL people photographed in the media, not just the portrayals here. THIS is what demeans real people. And THIS is what noone will tackle - becuase so many have their own fantasy of a woman/man who acts this way, 'but that's OK they're dressed modestly, so therefore they're not sexualised'...
I'm a girl, and honestly I don't give a crap. Unless they something or do something that is really sexist, I really don't care, and that counts for sexism against BOTH genders.
I honestly agree, I like a lot of the things that this tumblr does, because you can still be sexy and also have an outfit that makes SENSE with your character and their environment.
I think that there really ought to be a middle ground, there's no reason why there can't be. Either there needs to be more of this: [link] , or guys have to understand that if looking at that makes them uncomfortable, that's EXACTLY what we're going through.
It's not that hard to be sexy without all the skin, honestly. :\
In the case of outfits in things like MMORPGs, I'm fine with showy armor, too. Though, if they have armor that barely covers for women, they should have skimpy armor avalible for men also. I think that would solve the issue more than just covering it all up.
Though yes, I do think there should be "showy armour" for men as well. I think it stupid that female characters have armour/outfits with some care to their design and men have things like Plain Tunic/Really Bulky Armour That Makes Everyone Look like they are on steriods.
The original clothing/armor... I don't know what to say! O_O
They were just ridiculous! How can I take a half naked woman battling serious? Would anyone take a man battling half naked serious? I hope most people would find it amusing instead. I really don't hope anyone can take a naked woman going to battle serious either....
However I liked the changed clothing. They were sexy without looking slutty.
Women don't have to be naked in order to be beautiful or sexy... It's a stupid cliche that you have to have huge breasts and an enormous butt to be pretty.
I think I ranted more than I intended to... (._.)
I agree with not needing to have oversized breasts etc to be pretty...particullary silly when the same men who look down on a woman for not having oversized breasts also scoff at a woman who has breasts like they seemed to be drivelling over - calling her a 'bimbo' and often 'a slut'. Weird non-standards...
As for "not serious" for anything not-considered-modest-by-crinoline-era-prim, well, the problem with real armour, that people think is practical, is that it was so heavy that the knights couldn't even get to their feet without help! I suppose the unable-to-stand knight should be taken seriously...
(look it up on Wikipedia, took place in Africa in the 1980s)
(back to the main discussion)
Seriousness sometimes takes a holiday when dealing with character designers. They don't realize that without the right design, you can't convey the seriousness of the games.
Then again, I have my own ideas of video games.
Look, I'm not happy either that double standards are in place. If I mention I'm feminist, the men I run into think I'm gonna castrate them, all because I'm bald and fat. In reality, my weight was caused by a dangerous psych med and I've been bald for 6 months while wearing wigs with long hair. On May 29, 2013, I decided to let my hair grow back again.
That's just... horrible...
I don't think I could have said it better myself.
And you probably don't care about hearing this from a stranger but I hope you get better.
As for seriousness, I tend to be overly serious as I overthink.
I'm doing fine, since the doctors told me that my health is getting better. They put pills in my pharmacy's file and I'm using them. Thanks for caring as not many people on the Internet seem to care.
I think the World would be a better place if people understood that it's possible to want others to be happy even if you don't know them.
I'm glad you're doing fine.
I could play an entire game with a scantily clad busty woman, as long as she's not a one dimensional sex toy for the male players.
Likewise I couldn't play a game with a women who is equal to a man, but is basically just 'I am woman hear me roar'.
Character depth is important.
Overdone to the point of objectifying - Ivy, is one prime example as you noted.
Sexy, but not objectified in my eyes - Palutena from Kid Icarus.
Middle ground - Samus Aran, while she's out of her suit.
One might ask why Samus isn't in the objectified list. Well, here's an answer. She has a reason to be in a skin tight suit. Think, she needs to remain mobile, and she sure as hell isn't going to have a bunch of buckles and frills on a suit that's not even meant to be seen. She has reason to be like that. It's sexy, but it's not objectifying.
However, it's also important to note one significant thing:
These kinds of people, on every part of the spectrum, exist in real life. There ARE naturally big chested or wide hipped women that like to wear "slutty" outfits. Is it okay when someone does it in real life? Yes, I like to think it is. Is it bad when someone does it in the media? Apparently, but I don't see too much of an issue. As long as it's not overboard, I just like to say that people are like that in reality. In fact, I know some people like that.
Sexy vs objectified? It's sexy when it's not being shoved in our faces, or if there's a *REASON* someone is naked (like the person just likes sleeping nude but duty called and woke the person up out of their sleep, or more bluntly, there's a *romance* going on). I think the solution is to make everybody naked at some point or another. That way, nobody has any more reason to bitch and complain. 'Objectified' basically means "HEY LOOK! BOOBS! Don't care about anything else going on, just look at BOOBS!" I've seen more than enough of that on Deviantart to feel nothing from pictures of it. It has to be sweetened by context, because if not, it's only good for yanking off to - and the male stimulation is short-lived and fleeting. Again, give some CONTEXT, in other words, a GOOD REASON - or even a DECENT one! I mean, yanking off is fun and all, but solely targeting that is a poor low from a critical perspective.
Ironically, sometimes a certain piece of clothing can be more magnetizing of the gaze than actual nudity; like when a woman wears nothing but a long shirt that goes down a bit past the hips...Very good for creating verisimilitude!
I agree that woman are over-sexualized in media. I have never perceived it as a problem until someone pointed it out to me. I grew up gaming, it's just one of those things.
Personally, I play both sides. I have the very sexy, very femfatal characters, and then I have the very masculine women who are still beautiful in there non-boobholder chest-plates. Then there the ones that ride the line a little.
There seems to be no one right answer, but rather a matter of choice. And I mean to be fair, I think most people are different when they're playing a game as opposed to in real life. If you get home from a rough day at work and want to admire you're scantily-clad female charecter while she bashed some heads in completely unrealistic manner, I think that's your business. If that makes you uncomfortable, you should have the choice for more realistic portrayals.
For me it comes down to choice. You should be able to choose what you want to play, on either side of the argument.
We're constantly getting this image of what 'sexy' is burned into our psyche; and as such it causes some people to not feel comfortable in their own skin. So many people are being told via imagery of same shaped women and men that THIS IS WHAT SEXY IS! Having this same crap in the games we play just really sucks (and movies/books/tv programmes etc. And is it just me; or whenever there is a 'strong woman' character; at some point she is rendered vulnerable in whatever story she happens to be a part in; as a sort of reminder that she is in fact 'still weak?' I know all heroes etc go through that; but it seems to be more prominent and effective in female characters... From my own view anyways.)
I was taunted ruthlessly by boys and girls when I was growing up because I wasn't 'feminine'; and I wasn't doing exactly as every other girl was doing (Yes; I was the one punching the boys... I was that cliché girl you find in those stories lol).
I think the argument isn't 'we want to take out ALL sexy women', because hey; I enjoy looking at women just as much as any guy. I think the argument stems down to 'for god sake we're not ALL like that; and as such we don't ALL find gigantic breasts or washboard abs attractive; and that is NOT when makes a character interesting! Give your characters some damn character and variety!'
Personally I think it's just where people get damn lazy with character development. Why put all that effort in when you can just give your female character a stick thin waist and giant breasts; or your male character a six pack and pretty eyes, everyone will instantly love your character then; right?
What ever happened to the days where men (and women) could look at the opposing gender (or their own gender; whatever the person's preference is of course) who happened to be fully clothed and didn't have the same body shape/personality as so many others before them; and actually find them attractive.
What ever happened to characters being classy? I love porn just like everyone else; but I don't have to see every inch of flesh on the character I like just to 'like them more'... If anything that puts me off :/
But... Again I suppose that's just my opinion really. As I say; we're not all the same
Trust me, five minutes on Tumblr and you'll believe that too. Some feminists really are like that. I don't know if it's a majority or a minority but they're certainly the loudest ones.
To see the difference between sexiness and objectification we have to understand that 'sexy' is (and definitely should be) relative. Objectification is in part based on fallacy that there are universal ways to be pretty/appealing/sexy, even though in fact they're arbitrary. When a character is based entirely on societal expectations of (female) sexiness, there's a big chance she's also reduced to the role of an object.
But other relevant parts of objectification are lack of context and agency.
The former is easier to spot. Lack of context occurs when the character acts and looks according to arbitrary societal norms of sexiness despite of context. No matter the circumstances and setting, the character is always in some way framed as sexy. All the Escher Girl posing, bikini armors and generic porn actress/model looks go in here.
The latter is harder to recognize and most defenders leech on this problem: they use the argument that a character CHOOSES to be 'sexy'. The problem here is fact that a fictional character by definition lack agency, as all their choices are made by their authors. A character appears well-rounded when good writing keeps the illusion of her possessing a free will. She have an agency in her own choices only when they feel consistent with her established persona. When everything she does seem to serve only the 'sexyness', she'll appear as flat character at best. A person doesn't revolve around one theme (i. e. 'sexyness'), an object does.
Another problem with the above is when 'sexy' is the default and every (female) character gets her own explanation (this flat, illusory agency) to be conventionally 'sexy' in some way. Even when justified for every individual case, it's just artificial for ALL women in the story to adhere to what society taught us to view as 'sexy'.
Sorry, I could elaborate on it all day, but it's just too draining.
Someone ought to be screaming that off of mountaintops...