They say the easiest way to scare a guy is to whisper the word tampon into his ear. We’re all just a huge caricature of a flame-breathing dragon on our ceremonial week of menstruation; prone to biting your head off if we’re pissed. Why are people so scared of us when the image of femininity is “docility”? Is it because there are parts of us that stray from that ideal of purity that has been built up and reinforced for centuries?
As soon as we’ve slipped up once, it feels like we’re marked for life. That area of our permanent record never leaves us. This becomes especially apparent when you see it exaggerated in the hypersensitive reactions towards female celebrities.
Lindsay Lohan will always be judged for that one time she decided not to wear underwear, but the paparazzo who snuck a picture between her legs will never face the same judgment. When Heidi Klum has a nip slip, even as a consequence of trying to save her son from drowning, the articles that don’t focus prominently on the uncovering of her nipple still blur it to protect all innocent eyes. This censorship is obviously counterproductive.
The conundrum is that these women have the pressure of being our role models, and as soon as their image is tainted we’re told we have no good role models to lead us into womanhood. This plays a huge part in the public scrutiny of former child stars.
If you’ve read through the YouTube comments for Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” music video, you would see some variant of these questions: “Miley, what happened to Hannah Montana? Why did you become such a whore?”
But, if you look up the video for Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” (the unrated version), you’ll see comments like “that brunette is so hot” and “it’s just a song,” and if anyone decides to vocalize how they think that it objectifies women they get hateful replies from multiple users. Simultaneously, there are many people on the other end of the spectrum who feel sorry for the girls in the video, even though the models expressed their agency when they agreed to be a part of the project.
The focus is lifted off of them and given to Thicke, who looks like the trope of the Alpha Male: he’s got these three gorgeous girls who follow him around and lean on his strong man-shoulders suggestively. He’s “the Man”.
It’s as if it’s more acceptable for women to be nude in a video if it’s in relation to a man who is just flaunting his irresistible masculinity. But as soon as people realize that a woman has made her own decision to expose herself, she is deemed to be someone with no self-respect or morals; a tragic heroine who has lost her way.
The idea of females being so confident with their bodies seems to be a turn-off. We can see this in the criticism surrounding “The Vagina Shirt,” designed by photographer Petra Collins and The Arduous. The shirt features a line drawing of a vagina with blood watercolored onto it, pubic hair sketched on, and a shifty pair of fingers moving in on the gloryhole. The vilification for this has centered mostly around how gross pubic hair is.
The big mystery is if women really have hair “down there.” All the vulva we have seen in movies are cleanly shaven and of the same basic design. All the women in mainstream porn are carefully groomed. We’ve simply grown to view the female body as having a narrow mold to fit inside of.
It’s unhealthy for girls not to understand something that is a functional part of them; to not understand that vulva come in many shapes and sizes. There’s no need for girls to get extremely defensive when asked about masturbation as if they’ve done something really unthinkable and criminal. On the other hand, within my freshman year of high school, I heard at least five boys proclaim confidently, “every single high school boy has watched porn.” Male masturbation, in comparison, is so common that it can be shown in movies and still be PG-13.
The idea of femininity has evolved into the dogma that we, as females, should never step over the societal boundaries set up for us. The fear of the female anatomy needs to end. It’s time for our sexualities to stop being hidden and only taken out in order to be exploited.
As the wise, contemporary philosopher Macklemore once asked, “Have you read the YouTube comments lately?” Email MONA SUNDARA at firstname.lastname@example.org about what role you feel YouTube plays in our modern culture.