In the United States, it’s not difficult to find examples of sex used in advertising. In fact, it would be easier to build a conversation around sex in media by counting the number of Netflix originals and HBO shows that do not feature nudity. Historically, sex has always been a hot button issue in the U.S. with the younger generations always being a bit more liberal.
Today, we have many contemporary feminists championing their own versions of sexual liberation such as Amber Rose through her annual SlutWalk, an “event geared toward raising awareness of sexual injustice and gender inequality…while shifting the paradigm of rape culture.”
This event comes with the attention familiar to Rose, which recently resurged when she posted a photo on Instagram of herself with only her chest covered. While many appreciated her photo, Instagram did not. It was promptly removed thus adding another case study to the discussion of whether or not individuals such as Amber Rose are properly representing feminism in a much-needed push for sexual liberation.
Feminists who support the SlutWalk do so under the mission to extend female empowerment, dissolving the stigma around the word “slut” and showing solidarity to women who have been negatively branded. However, these feminists should hate the hyper-sexualized culture they are nurturing because women are its primary victims.
The bulk of the abuse committed against women can be traced to the offenders’ childhoods and how their perceptions of women were shaped. Young boys draw many of their views on women from the men they look up to; it is from men they learn how to attract and treat girls. This, of course, depends on different upbringings. However, seeing common misogynistic traits in their male role models and the lustful and predatory depictions of romantic interactions in the media, it’s no question how boys grow up thinking they have a degree of authority over women.
A controlling and entitled perspective is the basis of most, if not all, rape and stigmatization—also known as rape culture. The constant association of women and sex in the media does not help breakdown that mindset, which is precisely what the SlutWalk enforces.
While the intent is pure, it is counter-intuitive because kids are the most receptive to their activism. As a result, they will grow into adults who perpetuate a harmful culture, teaching boys women are only alive to feed sexual desires and that the only way for girls to be valid and powerful women is to be attractive or naked.
By no means is this placing blame on feminists or victims of sexual assault, nor is it advocating for the modesty or sexual repression of women. The main concern is the dangers of having a hypersexualized culture. It is never anyone’s business what women do with consent, but only if it stays behind closed doors.
Amber Rose and the feminists participating in the SlutWalk have good intentions in their goal of promoting empowerment and sexual liberation, but women already have those rights.
The empowerment of women comes from continuing to be champions in fields other than sex appeal such as athletics, politics, academia, STEM and business. It is possible to do it all whilst maintaining femininity like so many great women such as Serena Williams, Michelle Obama, Peggy Johnson, Sheryl Sandberg and Shonda Rhimes. It is in this kind of empowerment you exhibit to the world the strength of women.
-Carrington Tatum is an electronic media sophomore