Across industries, women are breaking the glass ceiling. But their perception, fueled by patriarchy, is yet to be altered. Even in 2021, society is far too happy with either stereotyping women or objectifying and sexualizing them in any setting.
Here’s a look at all the activities women have been sexualized for, for no fault of their own:
1. Playing sports
A sports person’s outfit should be designed keeping in mind the sport, not the gender. Sportswomen, however, have become used to be being judged not just for their technical skills, but also for their looks and outfit, and hell, even being fined for not adhering to sexist clothing norms.
This is so crazy.— Marcus Aurelius (@Marcus_Aure1ius) July 17, 2021
The clothes women wear for athletics generally strike me as crazy. If Bolt could smash world records in long shorts, why is the normal length of women’s shorts somewhere between hot pants and panties? It’s obviously not for functional reasons. pic.twitter.com/SnzGi5a4Mx
The perverted male gaze does not shy away from sexualizing something as natural and essential as breastfeeding. Given the blatant sexualization of breasts, which are ultimately a body part like any other, it’s not even shocking that men would rather have new mothers struggle to feed their child in the public, than stop sexualizing and/or shaming breastfeeding.
“When you’ve got to feed, you’ve got to feed, and I didn’t want it to get in the way of my career.”@ashleyljames shows us the reality of being a working mum – baby Alfie decided he needed a feed on air, and had a little ‘accident’ on his mum’s dress right before the show! 😂 pic.twitter.com/D7ziK6Z2g0— Jeremy Vine On 5 (@JeremyVineOn5) July 23, 2021
It’s shocking how openly people take to ogling at cheerleaders, or sexualizing them, simply for doing their job. Cheerleading is a sport that requires immense training and skills (have you seen those jumps and pyramids?), but sure, women should be objectified for the clothes they are wearing instead! And irrespective of the skill involved, cheerleading is not an invitation by a woman to be sexualized. Nothing is!
4. Being a sister-in-law
The very fact that ‘Savita Bhabhi’ has become synonymous with erotic literature and a phrase like ‘saali aadhi gharwali’ is a part of day-to-day conversations says a lot about the problematic way in which we view women in our society. Because unless a woman is related to you by blood, she is to someone to be lusted after?
5. Being a mother or an older woman
Terms like ‘yummy mummy’ and MILF are a part of colloquial English today. In fact, these terms have been normalized to the extent that no one even blinks an eye when a woman is described in this manner. Not only are we promoting flawed beauty standards by normalizing these terms, but we are also proving that in a patriarchal society, a woman will always be viewed as a sexual object first.
6. All-women sleepovers
Dear men, women are not engaging in “sexy” pillow fighting (as if that’s a real thing!) and lascivious activities at sleepovers. Because sleepovers for women, when we can get a permission for it, are for movie nights, gossips (and not just about men) and heartfelt conversations. And NOT for catering to a man’s perverted dreams and imaginations.
Item songs: two words that should have never made it to our vocabulary in the first place, and now, need to be retired ASAP. Women who are dancing (rains or no rains) are not items to be sold. Dance numbers are simply that – dance numbers. While a small number of songs sexualize men as well, the majority of them are all about “selling” women by sexualizing them. And this practice needs to stop.
8. Eating or holding anything phallic shaped, or anything that requires licking.
From bananas to lollipops, cucumbers to even mangoes, the male gaze has found a way to sexualize the act of sucking, and anything even remotely phallic-shaped. Men with dicks, you may be obsessed with them, but women aren’t. So let us eat a popsicle in peace, will you?
9. School Girls’ uniform
The very fact that ‘sexy school girl’ is a readily available outfit is something that needs to be changed. Considering a school-going girl’s outfit as a sex symbol is highly problematic because you’re sexualizing something that should not have a sexual air around it. Should people be allowed to wear what they want? Yes. And if that is a plaid skirt, a crop top, and a tie, then so be it. But can we, and by that I mean the patriarchal society, stop calling it “school girl’s outfit”?
10. Two women kissing
A consensual kiss between two women can be a romantic expression of love. Or an indication of their physical attraction. Or even a fun experiment. What it’s not, is a way to excite a random stranger. But as per the rulebook of entitled men, who believe the world revolves around them, two women kissing is not about their attraction to each other, but rather an activity to be overtly sexualized.
11. Yoga and exercising, in any form
Men, ogling and taking sneaky photos of women exercising, has become so common, someone even asked about it in Quora. And then men question the need for all-women gyms and yoga centers. A woman taking care of her body is not an invitation for sex. Men, nothing but a clear, verbal invitation for sex is an invitation for sex.
12. For wearing red lipstick
When women wear red lipstick, they see a shade they like, that makes them feel good. When men see women wear red lipstick, they interpret it as a siren call for sex. If you’re still confused about which interpretation is correct, I am guessing you’re a man.
13. For owning black lingerie
“If a woman owns black lingerie, then she wants to have sex” is a myth. Thanks to gender bias, women have to pay considerably more than men for lingerie. This is why most women, if not all, buy lingerie for themselves. More importantly, even if we do buy lingerie that makes us feel sexy, the focus is on ‘us’. And last, simply owning lingerie, in any color, design, or shape, is not an indication of our sexual interest.
14. Being in professions that have nothing to do with sex.
Teachers, nurses, secretaries, restaurant servers… the list goes on. Because in most professions, women are viewed as sex objects first, and professionals later. Men, on the other hand, rarely, if ever, have to deal with such a gender bias.
15. For not wearing a bra
We are simply letting our boobs be free. If you can see our nipples or a bit of skin, so be it. Do you have to sexualize it though? Let’s agree to not sexualize body parts simply because they are on a woman.
16. Wearing a bathrobe or a towel
By now, I’ve said it enough times but I will say it again – women are not wearing or not wearing something, for the sole purpose of attracting men. Bathrobes are fluffy and towels are essentials to dry off your body.
17. Inadvertently dropping your dupatta or pallu
Everything shown in the movies is not really. People don’t start synchronized dancing in the middle of the street with no planning. And women don’t drop their pallus or dupattas on purpose, to ‘tantalize’ you with a bit of cleavage. Stop sexualizing and stop staring.
Women fought and fought hard, to be given a place at the table. But despite years of fighting for equality, women are yet to be treated with respect. When will this change?