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Self empowerment or self objectification

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Founder Director Lokbandhu Rajnarayan Law College Varanasi 221302 web: Since 2004

While writing this article I have an apprehension that most of the readers would consider me as a misanthrope but we need to discuss and open our insight towards the changing trend in terms of women empowerment and self enhancement. It is obvious both men and women can be objectified. Self-objectification occurs when individuals treat themselves as objects to be viewed and evaluated based upon appearance. Materialism can trigger self-objectification tendencies. Self-objectification is a consequence of a set of values that implicitly considers body appearance as an essential element for personal success, self-worth, and social acceptance. Self-enhancement is getting linked to high self-objectification. Individuals (they can be both men or women) who attribute priority to self-enhancement are expected to be more involved in self-objectification processes.

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Women are sexualized and represented as objects used to sell products and as evident women are depicted in this way with significantly more frequency than male  are, such representation is being put forth for the sake of “fashion.” And it is here that we really encounter problems. There are countless examples within the past years, alone, of fashion demeaning women in the name of commerce. The use of camera shots of women’s body parts in different brands of beer, deodorants, bedsheets and many commercials in which there is no use of feminism.

It is found that women appeared less in commercials than men, but their bodily exposure was greater. In addition, there is likelihood that a commercial had at least one camera shot focused on a woman’s chest. There were also no male curves highlighted, but female curves are specially highlighted. Another important finding is that the majority of women appeared in either swimwear or leisure wear, whereas the men often appeared in work clothes. Commercials like these are direct instances of self objectification that women may be subjected voluntarily or involuntarily to any time they turn on their television.

Women in glamour industry have begun thinking about and treating themselves as objects to be regarded and evaluated based upon appearance and they have no repent on it. They  boldly accept to get objectified. Those in position to procure themselves from social vices are in far better situation but women who are financially dependent or struggling in carrier succumb to pangs of objectification. Celebrities need to be responsible. Young generation consider actors as role model and follow these actors in a blindfolded manner.

Definitely we have to be proud of our body gifted by nature but claiming that we have beautiful body why not reveal it does not make the sense. The outfits which are wore by women celebrities in award functions etc. become aspiration of many young girls from small town to wore by them one day and they go to any extent to achieve it. In addition to commercials, other forms of media such as movies and music videos  communicate to women that if they engage in substance use they will be hot, sexy, and both admired and desired by men. This is not an art and not even fashion. It is sexual objectification and it is highly damaging to ethics both individually and socially.

When women are objectified they are treated as mere bodies, instruments for the use and pleasure of others, they are deprived of their personal identity and considered as mindless entities, unable to experience human mental states. Definitely as written above, both men and women can be objectified, but in practice women are the most common victims and in today’s perspective they have become the volunteers of sexual objectification. This is obvious in cases of high profile prostitution, nudity in cinema and pornography. Exercise of sexuality within these morally problematic sexual contexts leads to the reduction of women (prostitutes and concubines) to men’s objects of appetite.

Pornography defines women’s role as sexual objects available for men’s consumption: Since times immemorial prostitution and pornography defines women by how they look according to and  how they can be sexually used? Pornography participates in its audience’s eroticism through creating an accessible sexual object, the possession and consumption of which is male sexuality, as socially constructed; to be consumed and possessed as which, is female sexuality, as socially constructed.  Pornography is responsible for both men’s and women’s conception of women as objects available for men’s consumption.

Women’s consent in sexual objectification has become a true consent in most of the cases. Materialism and self autonomy is going a wrong way. Money has become the medium of force and provides the cover of consent. The feminists who tend to believe that sexual objectification is a consequence of gender inequality and it is created and sustained by pornography’s existence and consumption is now becoming a myth. Nudity is in abundance today which explicitly  teaches that, not only is it permissible to treat women as an object, but also that women themselves enjoy being used violated and abused by men. Thanks to OTT platforms today giving platform to explicit content without censoring it.

The exposure and bold content is now becoming the trend of showcasing the talent. You are likely to be considered as good actors if you unhesitantly  portray a bold scene. Things which are meant to be done within four walls of the rooms is being portrayed on camera in wake of portraying realistic cinema. The portrayal of younger females with shorter dress and exposed body parts than man in same situation needs to be critically discussed in terms of sexual objectification. These are clearly associated with physical appearance rather than other attributes. Women begun their focus on physical appearance than on competency.

The thought that we must treat others as instruments, for we need their skills, their company, and their bodies—in fact, there is little that we social creatures can do on our own, is becoming prevalent and trendy. In order to represent women in a broader scope of powerful and professional roles as a global phenomenon advertising has arguably distorted the imagery of female bodies to attract the pleasure of the male gaze. Their sexualized body use is widely relayed in advertisements, media and culture. In name of self-determination and empowerment, women are choosing to be sexy, adopting the normative codes of sexiness, and are working hard to maintain their sexy appearance within social norms. Ambiguous sexual expression, including sexual gestures, sexual poses, and sexual facial expressions are  increasing over the time in movies and music videos. Furthermore, female music artists are more often portrayed as sexually objectified than male artists. Male artists are far less shown to objectify other individuals compared with female artists.


A set of criteria for what counts as sexual objectification is hard to define but there is a thin line between the sexual objectification and sexual empowerment. What I feel, empowerment is having ownership of our body. It’s not about dressing a certain way because you think that it would make you more sexually desired or more attractive. Empowerment is about being responsible for you own self-image, being comfortable with what you put out there in a way that celebrates who you are, not a way that tries to get others to look at you simply as an object of desire. When use the word empowerment, think about the word power. Being empowered means that you have the power. If you dress a certain way that makes you comfortable and embraces who you are, then that could be an example of being empowered.

So if you’re looking at someone and wondering whether they are being seen as objects or whether they are being empowered, ask yourself, who has the power? If they are simply being displayed and looked at for their bodies, or if they are purposefully doing things in order to be looked at for their bodies then that might be sexual objectification. If they have the power and are embracing themselves and their bodies without needing people to admire them sexually, then they are probably empowered. Women high in conservative values adhere to cultural standards of appearance.

Self-transcendence values does not have to do with self-objectification. Women motivated in pursuing their own ideals, abilities, and interests, i.e., open to change, seem to challenge the odds and prevent themselves from self objectifying cultural environment. Women who attribute priority to openness to change are diplomatic to external expectations. For me, women and nature share a powerful moral connection. The work women are imposed to do by nature creates sensitivity and empathy among. And what I perceive is that self objectification creeping into conscience of the ladies is slowly creeping in killing the natural instinct of feminism.

The topic raise relevant questions in light of the larger conversation about sexual harassment and assault in fashion and film industry and beyond. If there has to be a certain sense of change in the way society treats women, even film industry needs to change its mentality and embrace subjects about womanhood and feminity without projecting women as a mere object of sexual gratification but as a person of her own with layers. In this phenomenon, the women herself has to play a greater role. NO means no in every term.

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Founder Director Lokbandhu Rajnarayan Law College Varanasi 221302 web: Since 2004
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