The media has a problematic history with the way it characterizes women. It has ingrained a notion in people's mind that women are meant to be sexual possessions. A recent case that comes to mind is the distasteful amount of Hugh Hefner and Playboy Bunny Halloween costumes I saw this Halloween. Many people consider Hugh Hefner "iconic" and "legendary," but I'm honestly disgusted by his legacy in pop culture. Seriously, think about how women are portrayed in advertisements. We are constantly exposed to sexually provocative pictures that objectify women. Hugh Hefner developed Playboy, a multimedia empire that proudly branded itself as a catalyst of the sexual revolution for men and women. However, Playboy magazines feature naked women to profit off a misogynistic culture. It is important to know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with posing nude. Today, posing nude has become so popular because it's empowering for women. And before people argue that women objectify themselves by doing so, we need to understand that feminism is about women having choices. Feminism is about empowering other women, not shaming them for being sexual.
Hugh Hefner argued that he was a feminist because he encouraged women to embrace their sexuality, but the way Playboy represented women was not empowering at all. Playboy was (and still is) problematic for conveying that women are sex objects meant to be chased by men. In 2009, Playboy's magazine cover featured Seth Rogen holding a portable fan while a model struck Marilyn Monroe’s iconic flying skirt pose. Unfortunately, there were countless other offensive advertisements in that presented a man degrading another woman. What messages are these companies trying to send? Is it socially acceptable for men to look up a women’s dress without permission? Are women just pretty things to be looked at? Are women just trophies to obtain? Hefner's fans often reason that he defied 19th-century American sexual conservatism, but we need to acknowledge that women were always required to please men, whether it's dressing up for them or serving them dinner.
Furthermore, Hefner’s multi-million empire worsened the status of women by promoting an illegal prostitution industry which often involves sexual violence. Playboy’s first magazine was issued in 1953, just 33 years after the 19th Amendment was ratified. Feminist figures like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton dedicated their whole lives to fighting for women’s rights. After decades of pouring in blood, sweat and tears, women were finally taken seriously in society. Nevertheless, the Playboy empire had the audacity to trample on their long-awaited social progress to make money off women’s bodies. Women were reduced to unintelligent, greedy sex symbols in order to encourage an ideal bachelor lifestyle. Anthony and Stanton were probably rolling in their graves...
Despite its glitz and glamour, Hollywood also has a dark side of embracing female objectification. In movies and shows, women often play characters with little to no development at all. They just serve as pretty, expendable plot devices. Megan Fox had about 10 lines in "Transformers" because she was too busy fixing some vehicle in booty shorts, playing Shia LaBeouf's love interest or being the damsel in distress instead of saving the world. Truthfully, all I remember from that movie is the unnecessary, "sexy" minute-long montages of Megan Fox. Yet another example is the movie "Spring Breakers," in which young college girls were sexually exploited to promote rape culture. I can't even think of a scene where Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine were fully clothed. Women work so hard to build an acting career and even be cast in movies, but they are quickly reduced to this.
As a result, females are constantly obligated to prove their worth in society, whether it is at their workplace or school. We always need to prove that they are more than just pretty faces. How many times has a man questioned your intellectual capacity (i.e. mansplaining)? Have you ever been told that your ideas are "cute?" Or the classic, "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" The expected answer is: "Married with 3 kids and living in a house with a white picket fence." Right, because every women's goal in life is to get married and have kids. This needs to stop. Our society needs to stop spreading toxic ideas. The media needs to stop objectifying women and perpetuating a sexist culture because women are not sex objects. We are human beings who should be valued for our achievements and talents instead of our physical appearance.