movies matter | criticism by maryann johanson
Sat Jun 27 2009, 12:59pm | 41 comments
…and the “bravery” of the small-boobed woman. No wonder a gal might want to fly away…
It’s The Week in Women, new over at the Alliance of Women Film Journalists…
I’m from Argentina and here we always find it funny how obsessed guys are on the states with tits, especially big ones, here we always pay more atention to legs and asses
very few women have breasts like guys on the states think it’s the perfect size, so that leads to implants, and all fake tits look bad, even the ultra modern ones that might be close to natural looking are always exposed because they don’t match the rest of the body
MaryAnn, since you usually find stuff in movies that you consider a sign of the “end of civilization” (or something like that) you should add to that those Harry Potter movie posters where they digitally enhance the tits of the underage Emma Watson
doa, please don’t lump (heh, pun) all American guys into one category. Not all of us are obsessed with giant boobs. Honestly, I don’t know any guys who are.
Now, which Harry Potter posters are you referring to? I don’t recall seeing anything like what you describe for any of the movies, and a quick image search didn’t turn up anything conspicuous that I could see. Got a link or anything? Or were you thinking of the infamous Keira Knightley King Arthur poster?
Orangutan, I don’t know many american guys in person but usually on TV, movies and magazine it’s all about the tits, always
maybe it’s different there but I did know two americans guys (they were brothers from South Carolina working here) and they told me that on the states saying that you like girls’ butts more than tits could make a lot of people think you’re gay, and they weren’t kidding, it was around the time “hustle and flow” was released and they also explained to me what “whoop that trick” meant
I know about the King Arthur photoshop but I clearly remember seeing something very similar with a poster for the fourth Harry Potter movie, the poster where the kids are in regular clothes and Emma Watson is wearing a pink sweater, I think they had to pull a lot of posters from theaters and when the movie came out they had the un-altered ones ready but it was a while ago and I don’t have a link
but here in Argentina is very unusual to make a such a fuss over breasts, and on the states they have at least 10 differents names for it, regarding the article on the link, here nobody would wrote something like that, they might have said that she wouldn’t be pretty enough for today’s standars but never that she had too small tits
maybe it’s cultural thing, I don’t know, but here we grow up watching american movies and shows, and when they start with the tits it’s like when they start talking about bacon (we never eat bacon)
Coming from the North side of North America (I have both Canadian and American citizenship) I have to say that in my own opinion, and in the opinions of several straight guys and gay girls that I know, sexual attraction DOES often have much to do with breasts…but it’s NOT directly proportionate to size! It’s far more subtle, and very tied to how that part of the body fits with the rest of the person.
Breasts are a secondary sexual characteristic that women have, so it makes sense that people attracted to women would find breasts titillating (apologies for the pun). But it’s downright strange how a large segment of mainstream media (and definitely some people, just no one I can think of that I’m actually friends with) equates attractiveness of women directly in proportion to breast size. To illustrate with a competing example, just because someone’s hair can make them sexy doesn’t mean that the longer they grow it the sexier they’ll be!
Maybe it’s just a culture celebrating excess, or suffering from a standardized criteria for beauty. It’s the same cultural malaise that gave birth to Barbie, and the existence of Barbie probably creates a feedback loop aggrevating the problem.
…but that aside, if you don’t eat bacon you’re missing out! ;)
(And I don’t mean Canadian bacon…I swear, “Canadian” bacon doesn’t even seem to exist in Canada).
it’s very hard to get bacon here, you have to go to one of those really big supermarkets to get it (the ones the size of a city block) and even there it’s on small pieces and the very few people that do buy it is to use it on a sauce for pasta that’s popular here, never to fry it or eat it alone, that would be unthinkable
also we don’t eat peanut butter, it’s normal that parents have to explain kids what it is when they hear about it in cartoon or TV shows because they’ll never see it in person, here instead we have “dulce de leche” and it’s made out of condense milk ad it’s great, I was once told that they have it there too but it’s not popular and they call it oldfashion fudge or candy or something like that
on the states it seems that tits it’s the only meausure of how attractive a woman is, it doesn’t matter if she’s ugly or a moron as long as she has great tits
for example, right now here on cable TV they’re running an SNL show and the sketch playing now it’s about Amy Poelher playing herself on 1986 and the joke is that she wants to know if she’ll ever grow tits
Hey, doa767, I’m from South Carolina and our Governor isn’t a breast man, if the pictures of his Argentinian hottie are correct.
so, once again, maryann’s writing, which calls for thoughtful, if not outraged, reactions to the way women are treated as objects in the movies and media today brings comments that… treat women as objects!
All straight men objectify women on some level. It’s a result of hormones and the biological desire to procreate. Some are more honest about it than others.
Being ‘attracted to’ and ‘objectifying’ are two different things.
I think this is a copout, plus it’s heteronormative (assuming the straight male POV is the “normal” or “default” way to be). All human beings have “hormones” and “the desire to procreate”, generally speaking (some more than others, and I take it you mean “procreating” as in the sex act, not in the having babies). Why does “finding sexually attractive” have to be synonomous with “objectifying” to you? I find men sexually attractive, yet I don’t objectify them as a whole, even though I’ve been guilty of objectifying SOME men on occasion, as I think all people do from time to time.
Perhaps there’s confusion on what it’s meant to objectify. It is not “to find sexually attractive”. It is a far more pervasive way of thinking that affects how you view women in all spheres.
Also we don’t eat peanut butter, it’s normal that parents have to explain kids what it is when they hear about it in cartoon or TV shows because they’ll never see it in person, here instead we have “dulce de leche” and it’s made out of condensed milk ad it’s great, I was once told that they have it there too but it’s not popular and they call it old-fashioned fudge or candy or something like that.
Actually, I’ve eaten dulce de leche though I’m more familiar with it under its Mexican name, cajeta. I’ve also had fudge. The two tastes aren’t comparable–any more than, say, cinnamon and brown sugar are comparable just because they’re both brown and sweet.
Dulce de leche is more comparable to caramel–though in Mexico, it is often made from goat’s milk so it obviously tastes different than any American caramel I can compare it to. The Mexican form often comes in jars and is poured on bread in the same fashion as syrup or molasses. If you haven’t ever tried it and you have a bit of a sweet tooth, you might want to see if it’s available in any of the ethnic grocery stores up there in New York. I think you’d like it, MaryAnn.
I wasn’t talking about of women (or men if that’s your thing) as objects
my point was that people like and in some cases become obsessed with these things (breasts, bacon, etc) not so much out of out own initiative but rather because society tells them that they’re suppose to like them
I often argue with my dad that he likes tango because he was young in Argentina on the 40s and 50, had he been born on the states he would’ve like jazz, or if he were born 50 years later he would’ve loved rock, but he insist that tango is the best music in the world because most people can’t see beyong their local and temporal point of view
so I’ve always wondered if I don’t like bacon because it is not something that we usually eat here (and there’re not commercials for it) or because I really don’t like the taste
the same applies for tits, soccer, dulce de leche, peanut butter, hip hop, movies about the american civil war or baseball and more
by the way the gov’s mistress is 43, she’s divorced with two kids and she’s sorta of high society lady, she lives on the most expensive part of town, she works in diplomacy and speaks six leanguages, although that probably would’ve matter to the gov if she wasn’t pretty, she looks like Jennifer Connoly’s older sister and she’s stunning
I think this is a copout, plus it’s heteronormative (assuming the straight male POV is the “normal” or “default” way to be). All human beings have “hormones” and “the desire to procreate”, generally speaking (some more than others, and I take it you mean “procreating” as in the sex act, not in the having babies). Why does “finding sexually attractive” have to be synonomous with “objectifying” to you?
I do mean procreating in order to have babies. On the basic, animalistic nature of existance, sex is the most important activity we engage in. It certainly has an overwhelming influence on the male brain, just look (metaphorically) at the pervasiveness of porn/lad mags/Megan Fox’s of the world. It is hard wired into our DNA.
Sex is far from “the most important activity we engage in.” Without continuity of family, community, culture, and society, sex is biologically pointless. Newborn human infants are utterly incapable of survival without some minimal family support, and we all need much more than that to truly thrive.
It might be convenient for some men to believe that being sexist and objectifying women is somehow “hard wired into our DNA.” In reality, such traits are biological liabilities. They stifle the talents of far too many people, and we all lose out when that happens.
The sooner we abandon such outdated ideas, the better off we will all be.
Um, that’s not strictly speaking, true. The things you list later certainly add to our lives, and create the extremely important veneer of civilization…but procreation and a mother who gives the kid about 5-7 years of care/instruction would probably see the human race through in a pinch. We are, if you strip away all our accomplishments…just mammals.
That in no way excuses objectifying women or men, however. And, eventually, science may render it un-true…although whether that is beneficial or not remains to be seen.
Sure we’re mammals, and we’re biologically inclined to act or think in certain ways, but you have to admit that socialization has the power to change our actions and thoughts dramatically (not always for the best). Just look at the diversity of human culture. I recently read about a tribe in New Guinea in which the rite of passage to adulthood for a young boy consists of an older male member of the tribe performing fellatio on him and consuming the result. I can think of possible biological advantages for this practice, but that doesn’t make it socially inevitable.
My favorite example is always the neck-stretching practiced by the women in some tribes in Thailand and Burma. Again, I can think of some biological reasons this practice might have started, but society is clearly capable of taking an idea and pushing it to an extreme that has very little to do with biological programming. Nurture pretty much kicks nature’s ass as far as I can tell. Of course biology is important, but it gets subverted and twisted and distorted in such a huge variety of ways that it can’t be the ironclad dictator that many people make it out to be.
It’s frustrating to see so many men shrug their shoulders and say, “What can I do? I’m a man, it’s just the way we’re programmed to think and behave.” Sure it’s better to be honest about unpleasant desires than pretend they don’t exist, but I wish they were also honest about the fact that they could take it a step further and change their behavior for the better (and any man who has been treated as an object understands that it can be very painful and insulting), but they don’t want to, because they’re lazy. Most of the time, the powers that be in a Patriarchy give them a high five and tell them that it’s so unfair to ask men to deal with the awful stress of exerting self-control. Why, that would be cruel, unnatural, and… *gasp*, emasculating.
thank you, amanohyo. Essentialist arguments always baffle me. We humans are so much more than our “wiring”. We have cultural attitudes, history, psychology all playing a factor in everything. Animals don’t have this, at least not to any significant effect.
tomservo, the prevalance of “lad mags, porn and Megan Fox” (btw, just so you know, it’s a bit insulting to list her within a list of objects; how is an individual woman ‘pervasive’?) is due to our culture, like amanohyo said, that basically pats men on the back, services their sexual needs, and caters to their preferences. Then we women get told that we are hard-wired to be domestic and serve, and that we have no base desires like men. Our job is to appeal to men. How dehumanizing is that? Women are just as sexual within as men; we are just scorned for our appetites or fetishized, so is it any wonder, in general, women don’t seem as sexually oriented?
Of course women have sexual appetites but you can compartmentalize things more easily than men (at least from my experience). Ninja, you said, “our job is to appeal to men.” Yes it is your job to appeal to men and it’s our job to appeal to women. That’s how the human species perpetuates itself. Men and women are attracted to different aspects of each other given our biological gender roles. No matter how we try we are still not much more than hairless apes.
See, I’ve heard other Essentialists argue that it is men who comparmentalize, not women. Something about “men can separate sex from relationships but not women” etc.
Sorry, I think it’s BS. Societal norms and how they have evolved over history influence us far more than what our cave ancestors did thousands of years ago. Too often I’ve seen it (essentialism) used to push for the status quo as far as gender is concerned, but I’m tired of being told what I’ll think and do because I have doubleX chromosomes. 50% of the population shares my sex chromosomes, but we are not all alike. Neither are men.
Oh, and it’s not anyone’s job to appeal to anybody. Who I mate with is just one part of my life. We can choose to have children or not. We can choose relationships or not. Some may go down this road, and feel a strong need to procreate due to whatever, but it isn’t every human being’s destiny. And how do gay people fit into all this?
I don’t know what an Essentialist is, but I can make a pretty good guess by what you’ve mentioned.
Frankly, I believe female sexuality is one of the most powerful forces in the world. I’m no historian, but could it be that one of the reasons most modern religions have a patriarchal structure is because of the power it has over men? The burqa, the Catholic hierarchy, etc. I certainly don’t believe sex is the only thing women have to offer. This may be Essentialist, but I think the female gender is stronger (in fortitude) and smarter than the male because you have the more important job; you bring life into the world. It’s natures way of helping us out.
but I think the female gender is stronger (in fortitude) and smarter than the male because you have the more important job; you bring life into the world. It’s natures way of helping us out.
So men are just a bunch of apes who think with our dicks, and it’s not our fault, it’s just nature. Nature was so much kinder to women, gifting them with maternal “fortitude” so they could slavishly look out for us.
Give your Mom a box of chocolates.
the “bravery” of the small-boobed woman.
Back in the days when Nora Ephron still wrote stuff that was actually worth reading, she wrote a funny
essay commenting on this. But that’s a subject for another day.
What totally amazes me is the fact that back in the day when Ms. Fawcett was still popular, few people had anything negative to say about her breast size. Her hair, maybe. Her personality, definitely. But nothing about her breast size.
To make things odder, back in the 1970s, there were a lot of female celebrities who were noted for having large breasts: Rachel Welch, Loni Anderson, Bo Derek and of course, Dolly Parton. Obviously, Ms. Fawcett was not one of them but then again I don’t remember her receiving the type of physical critiques that were directed at, say, Kate Jackson.
Farrah was always considered one of the most beautiful members of the Charlie’s Angels cast (actually I considered them all beautiful, Ms. Jackson included, but not everyone in the 1970s agreed with me) so I can’t help but be amazed at how ridiculously nitpicking our standards of beauty have become.
If this is supposed to be an American thing, then I guess that’s just one more reason to be glad I’m the son of an immigrant.
So men are just a bunch of apes who think with our dicks, and it’s not our fault, it’s just nature.
David E. Kelley has a lot to answer for.
Though I can’t help but wonder what Accounting Ninja suggests I do the next time a bisexual female acquaintance starts commenting on the physical appearance of women in my presence…
Practice Zen meditation. Calculate pi in your head. Picture your grandparents naked. Chant “I am not an ape. I am not an ape.”
Here’s David Brent from The Office explaining why men are attracted to breasts.
…and here’s Mr. Brent discussing sexism as a result of a dirty email.
sorry, here’s the link.
@Tonio: Hey, we all do that. Men and women, gay and straight, size up the gender they are attracted to. I don’t really consider that “objectification” like I do the constant catering to (straight) male sexuality that is in the media. Though, a man (or woman) who constantly objectifies possible partners might be a sexist pig and not be very successful in attracting lasting partners. :). I guess I’m talking less individual, more broad, social trend.
tomservo, I really hate that “women are powerful sex goddesses and SO above us” mentality. You do women no favors but putting us on some weird pedestal. Get this: I am human just like you. I’m not some elusive, mysterious species. My sexuality is no more powerful than yours. Basically, you are blaming women for patriarchy, because if teh menz didn’t feel so oppressed by our vagina super powers, we wouldn’t need to be kept down all these centuries, like some wild animal that cannot ever let out lest it destroy us all!! To be treated this way is NO COMPLIMENT: it is insulting. Why don’t men who think this way ever get that??
ps, quoting popular entertainment actually serves to strengthen my point. Media is a reflection of our culture, and unfortunately the culture (wrongly) holds a lot of these beliefs about men and women.
Now, here’s something for your perusal:
Of particular note:
Sexual attraction is not the same as sexual objectification: objectification only occurs when the individuality of the desired person is not acknowledged. Pornography, prostitution, sexual harassment and the representation of women in mass media and art are all examples of common sexual objectification.
An important point of de Beauvoir’s was that this Othering effect is the same whether women are viewed as wholly inferior or if femininity is viewed as mysterious and morally superior: Otherness and full equality cannot coexist. emphasis mine
Maybe I’m dense, and that is a distinct possibility w/ me, but I can’t figure out the problem. ninja, you quoted “this Othering effect is the same whether women are viewed as wholly inferior or if femininity is viewed as mysterious and morally superior: Otherness and full equality cannot coexist. emphasis mine.”
I guess I fall into the latter view. First off, “mysterious” isn’t a negative quality, it implies something is interesting and intriguing. And how “morally superior” is an insult is beyond my comprehension. As for Otherness, what’s wrong w/ that? Men and women are different, and thank God. If everyone was the same this would be a boring world.
Because we aren’t more morally superior. There are moral women, and immoral women, moral men, and immoral men. (We won’t go into what constitutes “morality”. For the sake of argument, it’s whatever morality means to you.)
Putting women on a pedestal is to dehumanize them. Not only is it denying women the full spectrum of human emotions and failings, but it is making women “responsible” (since they are morally ‘superior’) for keeping men in line. That if men act immorally, it is merely in their base nature, and perhaps a woman was not good enough to steer him right. This leads into the wonderful world of slut-shaming and rape-victim-blaming. The onus is on the pure, ever-moral woman to tame the base nature of a man. And if she doesn’t, she’s not a “real” woman: she’s a slut, a Jezebel, she’s wanton. Why do you think in some middle eastern countries the women must wear the burka? It is to cover their “sexually powerful” femaleness, so that the men won’t lose control and go all caveman on her, and if he does, it is HER FAULT. Because men can’t help it.
I really hope you can understand where I’m coming from, because you really don’t seem like a bad guy, tomservo. You haven’t insulted me once, and I thank you for your polite discourse.
Oh, 2 more links: on “benevolent sexism” and why female “advantages” are not so advantageous.
Essentialism (what is it?), if you wish.
Kudos, Accounting Ninja!
Yes, many thanks to Accounting Ninja for such a concise statement of some of the problems with calling women “morally superior” to men.
It’s a direct parallel to outdated racial theories claiming black people were “physically superior” to other races. Many whites in previous centuries used this belief to justify slavery as the “natural” role for black people in society.
When someone says you have greater physical strength and endurance they might think it’s a compliment. But then you are told your great strength makes you best suited to lifting heavy objects. Your endurance makes you the natural choice for long hours of hard labor. Your ability to withstand the pain of the whip makes you a threat to the social order. And you can be killed at any moment, with no punishment to your murderers, if you fail to bow your head and avert your eyes whenever you encounter white people.
It wouldn’t take much of that before you might not feel so complimented.
I think we all know who’s morally superior: Dolphins. For now lets just be humble and keep feeding them fish, yaknow?
P.S. morally superior people are totally hot.
Kidding, kidding. But moral ambiguity, now THAT’S attractive ;)
but dolphins aren’t fish…
Eyeesh! I hate to jump on the Compliment-Accounting-Ninja bandwagon, because now she’ll be impossible to deal with. But basically yeah, tomservo, what she said.
I think Ninja and Victor Plenty made a bit of a mistake in choosing such extreme examples. The unfairness of your line of thinking might hit closer to home if put this way: picture the stereotypical husband-wife dynamic, where the wife takes most of the responsibility for parenting and maintaining the household, because she’s so much ‘better’ at it. At first glance complimenting her on her work ethic and fine maternal instincts seems innocuous. But look closer and it becomes the excuse for the husband to behave like a leech and stick her with his share of the responsibility.
If you honestly believe women are morally superior then you really shouldn’t be so apathetic about it. That belief should be the impetus for vast self-improvement. Simply saying “we are still not much more than hairless apes” is a spectacularly weak copout.
JoshB: Come, now, I’m already pretty impossible to deal with. ;P
Victor, I liked your example a lot. I was thinking about mentioning racism, and in the 1800s and early 1900 there were widely-regarded books and papers by respected scientists out there on the “mental inferiority and physical superiority” of the black man. Many smart people, even well-meaning people, of the time would swear by these racist studies. In the end I decided to keep it about gender differences, but thanks.
Also, JoshB, I thought whether going to the extreme I did would help, and I like your example, but in my experience a die-hard essentialist would inevitably answer “Well, my mother/grandmother/sister/wife love being wives and mothers. I know lots of women who do, and just because YOU don’t doesn’t mean anything.” I do recognize that some women do love being in a traditional role. But some don’t. These are individual preferences, though. What I have the problem with is when all women are lumped together as being told we must like X or Y, even though there are millions of us, each with very different lives, priorities and motivations.
And I mentioned the burka because that’s the worst possible leap in this kind of thinking. I wanted to show that it in fact can be dangerous not to question blanket, essentialist statements.
Uhh, Bree, I was using proper grammar; I didn’t mean [yokel]”keep feedin’ them there fish!”[/yokel], I meant that we should keep feeding fish to the dolphins; you obviously aren’t familiar with the works of Douglas Adams.
And yes, I am aware that I seriously absuse semicolons, but I mean, they’re so unloved and lonely.
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