Zenfolio | Maulshree Gangwar | Let’s talk about my cleavage: Why women resort to self-objectification?

Let’s talk about my cleavage: Why women resort to self-objectification?

November 14, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

I was most fascinated by Van Zoonen’s (1991) article on feminist perspective because it helped me understand feminism to certain extent, but it also rendered me unable to classify myself as a certain kind of feminist. In order to get rid of obfuscation, I came up with socio-liberal feminism. I believe that women deserve equal place in the society and they ought to have ‘Equal Rights as human beings’. They should have the same freedom of deciding about their lives. As a social feminist, I assert that this equality should also be in terms of economic conditions of women i.e. women should be paid equally for the same amount of work done by either of the genders.

However, having been brought up in a male dominated society, I cannot completely disagree with radical feminists. Objectification of women is a direct result of men having control over how the society functions. It is the same in the case of media as well which is controlled by the dominant male. According to a research conducted by Geena Davis Research Institute by Smith et al. (2014), there is only about 23% of female workforce in media. Does this wide gender disparity lead women to resort to self-objectification to make their place in this field?

In a recent controversy where leading Indian news daily tweeted about an actress’ cleavage with a photo along side, she got offended and retaliated rather harshly with a tweet, “YES! I am a Woman. I have breasts AND a cleavage! You got a problem!!??” Following criticism, the news daily removed the tweet with an apology but it had got blown to such drastic proportions even International news agencies like Independent and BBC covered the story. An entire campaign was launched on twitter that supported the actress. This is just one incident that got so much media attention that one of the leading actors who is always in the news for his show, felt sidelined by the cleavage story. Is this the only way women in media can get attention? The actress has flaunted her body in every possible way on screen and off screen that I fail to understand if she was really worried about her cleavage being a story. It could just have been a publicity stunt right before the release of her film. The story remained in the attention for more than a week, which is way too much time to get fame across the world.

Is self-objectification the only way women in media or films can get acknowledgment for instead of their talents? Is there no way women can be respected for just their talents as actors or media people? 

References:

  • Van Zoonen, L. (1991). Feminist perspectives on the media. In Kearney C.K.(Ed.), The Media and Gender Reader (pp. 25-40). New York and London, Routledge.
  • Smith S.L. et al. (2014). Gender Bias without borders: An investigation of female characters in popular films across 11 countries. Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media.
  • Pandey, G. (2014). Deepika Padukone: Why Bollywood stars are speaking out on sexism. BBC News India. Retrieved on October, 20 from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-29203235

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