• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Female Sexualisation

ByPhoebe Parkin

Mar 26, 2023

Although the days of Page 3 girls seem long gone (despite the last publication only being in 2015), the evolution of technology has meant that the sexualisation of women through digital media is far more complex, multi-faceted, and widespread than ever before. In the most extreme cases, deep fakes and non-consensual recordings of women performing sex acts are proliferated across the internet, sometimes featuring disturbing levels of violence.

Perhaps less extreme but equally as dangerous are the more implicit forms of sexualisation through digital media. TV shows like Love Island, for example, seem only to choose participants who are exceedingly beautiful (by conventional standards). The success of media megastars like Molly-Mae Hague continues to reinforce the idea that a woman’s worth is inherently linked to her beauty and sexual desirability.

As a result, hypersexualisation in the media creates new norms for behaviour and appearance in the real world, leading to an increase in low self-esteem and insecurities not only in young women and girls but in men and boys too. Coupled with this hypersexualisation are the concerningly loud voices of content creators like Andrew Tate, who reinforce misogynistic ideas about women, including that women are to blame for being sexually assaulted. His well-documented popularity highlights that his opinions have struck a chord with young men.

These are the young men who may, in a few years, hold positions of power where unchallenged misogyny could manifest into dangerously sexist behaviour. How many of Tate’s fans are already in positions of power?

One does not have to look very far to find stories of men abusing their positions of power to inflict harm upon women, such as David Carrick and Wayne Couzens. This is not “a few bad apples”; ever more enquiries and investigations are emerging about the widespread, endemic misogyny within policing. Lest we forget the claims of sexual misconduct and abuse in the Houses of Parliament, sports clubs, religious institutes, and media corporations, to name a few. The common denominator? Men abusing their positions of power with seemingly little or no fear of any repercussions for their actions. Despite being banned from nearly all forms of mainstream social media, algorithms have been able to widely distribute Tate’s content, even to those who do not share his beliefs.

Despite the push for body neutrality and positivity, we are still bombarded with hypersexualised and unrealistic images of women across media platforms. But the poetic downfall of the world’s most famous misogynist at the hands of Greta Thunberg in 2022 was an unexpected reminder that men who take advantage of their positions of power can and will face consequences.

But this doesn’t solve the problem at large. Unpacking misogynistic ideas has to happen at the macro level. Media platforms must be held to account for the content they allow. Structural, fundamental change has to occur in the processes and governance of leading institutions, such as universities. Greta Thunberg can’t save the world, at least not from the likes of Andrew Tate. But, like the climate crisis, if we all do our bit, individuals and corporations alike, we can look forward to a brighter, less misogynistic future.

Image:Female Nude” by chinamarker is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.