Sexiness revolves around confidence

By Mislav Forrester

Contributing Writer

Bring sexy back? Sexy never left, and if it did, it never left the University. A good friend of mine visited once and commented about how many pretty women there are here. Sexy, pretty, cute–whatever the choice term—all get at the same idea. So, what does it mean to be sexy? We grow up in a society where images of men and women are shown in contrast to each other. We focus on differences and overlook glaring similarities. It’s men who control these messages, telling women to be sexy and make themselves attractive for men.

It is great if a woman is dressing in a way that makes her feel powerful and proud of her self and body, but conforming to men’s expectations without thinking about the reason can be dangerous. If men host social events to which women must wear short skirts and revealing tops to attend, they are forcing women to fulfill their desires without regard for the women’s desires. We, as a society, are bombarded by images of women’s bodies, while men’s bodies are emphasized much less often.

Sexiness may appear to give women an advantage in some social situations, but it is often for the purpose of attracting men. In Disney movies, for example, female roles only appear powerful through their acquisition of men as marriage partners. In “The Little Mermaid,” Ariel gives up her voice so that she can marry Prince Eric. In “Mulan,” Mulan has to dress like a man in order to be allowed to fight, and her family only values her as a woman when she brings home a husband at the end; thus cementing a woman’s social role as a submissive partner whose importance is secondary to that of her mate. The problem is that a false sense of power is created; men still have more physical strength and top positions in most businesses and companies, as well as religious and political organizations, in our society. The power of attraction pales against the power of physical strength in a sexual context.

Cosmopolitan’s October 2011 issue promises a way to “shrink your inner thighs” following with an inside statement, “We’re psyched to see that P!nk isn’t rushing like mad to lose the extra pregnancy pounds.” Magazines for women simultaneously encourage women to be uncomfortable in their bodies while also being friendly towards women who are not. These contradictions are not coincidental and surely confuse readers. One thing is clear: women have to make themselves attractive for men. The very same Cosmopolitan issue promises “Times he wants you to be jealous” and “Four words that seduce any man. Any time.” Many magazines marketed to women are produced by men; Cosmopolitan and Seventeen Magazine are both published by Hearst Corporation, whose chairman and vice chairman are men.

In our male-dominated and centered culture, we are taught to view men as the norm and women as the exception, even though the physical and psychological differences we perceive between men and women are mostly socially constructed. This gender and sex binary, with only men and women, excludes anyone who doesn’t fit its narrow definitions and teaches women to see themselves through the eyes of others, particularly men. Our relations with others can only define who we are within the context of our own personalities; to only see ourselves through the eyes of others is to ignore our individuality and create an artificial void.

Students can regularly hear men talking about how “sweet” a particular woman’s ass is in our school cafeteria, and it’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing for the woman because she is being turned into an object of sexual desire for that man, and for the man who has accepted such a shallow point of view that he can no longer see sexually attractive women as people.

Sexy should not be a tight-fitting, body-accentuating outfit that catches the eye of a man in search of sexual gratification. Sexy should be an individual who is confident, aware of her and his sense of self, and not something involving pleasing others. It is up to us as a community to make sure our University includes an environment that accepts people for who they truly are.

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