3 COMEDY MOVIES THAT YOU DIDN’T REALISE SEXUALLY OBJECTIFY WOMEN

Think about the last time you watched a comedy like Project X, The Hangover or The Inbetweeners. If you’ve seen the movies, you probably didn’t even notice it the first time you watched them, but they actually sexually objectify women – subtle as it may be.

“Sexual objectification!” you exclaim. “What sexual objectification?!”

Don’t get us wrong – those party-culture, comedy movies are hilarious, but it’s the underlying sexual objectification of women in these movies that is not so funny. You’ll probably agree with us after reading these mini reviews:

1. Project X (2012)

Project X summarises the idea of the male gaze into ninety minutes of a film about an out of control party. Apart from the textbook ‘good girl’ in the film, all of the women exist purely for the pleasure of male viewers: think up-skirt shots and exposed breasts. Watch the trailer below and try to spot a woman not being treated as a sexual object (hint – it’s nearly impossible). The sexual objectification presented in Project X can have a dangerous impact on the mental health and body image of young women, as well as negatively influencing the behaviour of young men towards women.


2. The Hangover (2009)

The Hangover is based around a bachelor party (defined by alcohol, drugs, gambling and the sex industry) in Las Vegas and the lack of memory which results for the male characters the morning after. The majority of the women in the film – girlfriends and wives – are portrayed as disposable, unopinionated and accomodating of all behaviour. The only character who offers any critique, or pretty much has an opinion, is Stu’s girlfriend, although she is portrayed as controlling, crazy and unsympathetic. This is an objectifying, poor representation of women, concocting certain stereotypes which may pose as harmful to both male and female viewers.


3. The Inbetweeners Movie (2011)

The Inbetweeners Movie follows four socially troubled 18-year-olds from the south of England go on holiday by themselves for the first time to Malia. Although many female characters appear in the film as crushes and girlfriends, they also appear as siblings and mothers. Regardless, all female characters are judged on their appearance and often referred to by slang terms for their body parts such as ‘gash’, ‘clunge’ and ‘jugs’ to cite a few. The sexual objectification of women in a comedy movie like The Inbetweeners is actually more harmful than you might think. Because the movie is marketed towards a young adult audience, the viewer is encouraged to share the viewing perspective of the male characters: risking young women becoming sexually objectified subjects, purely existing as recipients of the male gaze.

Have you seen any of these movies? Do you agree with any of the above mini reviews?

Let us know what you think in the comments down below!

– S x

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WHY DO WOMEN HAVE TO LIVE IN FEAR?

Have you ever been catcalled?

Felt like you were being watched or followed when walking alone at night?

Felt uncomfortable when walking past a group of men all staring at you?

Heard a verbal comment directed at you?

Been honked or whistled at?

Been touched or grabbed in a sexual way by a stranger in public?

You’re not alone.

Studies have proven that over 99% of women have experienced some form of street harassment (stopstreetharassment.org).

We have already established that many films which include themes such as sexual objectification, sexual assault, sexual violence, sexual abuse, stalking and pornography can have adverse affects on the mental health and body image of young girls.

But these films are essentially promoting these ideas to millions of people, with how their female characters act and by how their male characters treat women. This is not only causing women to be impacted in terms of mental health and body image, but also exposing these ideas to men and boys, teaching that this sort of behaviour is acceptable and is socially tolerated.

Have you seen Project X (2012)? You may not have realised how objectifying and degrading it is to women, showing how men treat women as objects for their sexual pleasure.

Or Bad Teacher (2011), a film starring Cameron Diaz which glamourizes the sexual objectification of women with its materialistic and sexist plot?

Sexual objectification has no place in our society and the film industry is producing movies which covertly promote it alongside themes of sexual assault, sexual violence, sexual abuse, stalking and pornography. Its impacts on both sexes are often invisible – for example, a guy might be more prone to catcalling a girl with his friends because he was subconsciously influenced by watching a movie where women are treated similarly.

The below clip by Cosmopolitan shows men’s reactions to their girlfriends being catcalled. It’s a more lighthearted take on the issue but it’s still a great video because the boyfriends are all so shocked that their girlfriends actually experience sexual objectification on a daily basis – highlighting how more awareness needs to be raised to tackle the issue.

As usual, let us know what you think in the comments below!

– S x

TRUMP’S SEXUAL OBJECTIFICATION OF WOMEN

There should be no tolerance for the sexual objectification of women anywhere.

Just under a month from potentially being elected as the next President of the United States, Donald Trump’s 2005 self has made a controversial appearance on social media over the weekend. A leaked video has surfaced, which depicts a recorded conversation between Trump and Billy Bush, depicting Trump condoning the sexual assault and objectification of women.

If you missed it, here’s a great recap of the matter by Waleed Aly on The Project on Channel 10, who urges everyone to realise that #TrumpIsNoLaughingMatter.

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It’s got us thinking – how and why is it acceptable for anyone, let alone the next potential President of the United States, to objectify women?

The presence of the sexual objectification of women in the film industry has a profound impact on viewers. For one, it impacts the mental health and body image of young women. Secondly, the influence it can have upon men is often overlooked – it can make men regard it as acceptable, or a social norm, to talk about women in a particular way. This essentially leads them to take light-heartedly the harassment, assault and objectification of women and girls – otherwise referred to as ‘locker-room’ chat or more seriously, as rape culture. Worst-case scenario, it causes them to act upon it.

When it comes to how Trump objectified women, multiply this by one hundred because it was broadcast on multiple large-scale media platforms and went viral on social media. He is a politician, a public figure, a businessman, a speaker, a television producer, an author and most importantly an influencer. He is campaigning to be elected as the President of the United States, aiming to gain the support of 30o million U.S. citizens, while his every move is watched by the world.

It is simply terrifying to know that a man of such power and potential influence possesses degrading values towards women. His acceptance of this so-called ‘locker-room’ language is dangerous. Imagine the millions of men and women who have seen the video of Trump and the underlying impact it could have upon them.

Check out this video, from a News.com article, featuring Nancy O’Dell (a married woman who Trump discusses in his video). She states “there is no room for objectification of women, or anyone for that matter — not even in the ‘locker room’… The conversation needs to change because no female, no person, should be the subject of such crass comments, whether or not cameras are rolling.”

We completely agree with what O’Dell has to say. There should absolutely be no tolerance of sexual objectification in our society. Let’s hope that the election on the 8th November brings good news.

As usual, let us know what you think in the comments down below!

– S x

 

 

 

WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY

Today, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day. It is recognised annually by the World Health Organisation (WHO) , providing an opportunity for people to talk about mental health issues and raise awareness worldwide.

This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is psychological first aid, educating people on how they can provide support to those in distress. People who have a psychological mental health issue may have experienced or suffered from a serious and distressing event or crisis – like seeing someone get badly hurt, witnessing a death or being a victim of sexual assault or violence.

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We’ve done a couple of blog posts discussing mental health and its relationship to the sexual objectification of women in the past – this one and this oneif you missed them. One thing that has really stood out to us when researching mental health, is the statistic that 1 in 5 people experience a diagnosable mental health issue in any given year. Note the word diagnosable. This means that not all people receive the help that they need, because they don’t have the support and resources to reach out to those around them.

Although our campaign focuses on the impacts that sexual objectification can have upon the mental health of young women, we want to stress the importance of recognising mental health issues not just in young women, but in all genders and ages. Everyone deserves to receive the help and support that they require.

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If you are struggling with a mental health issue, or know someone who is, here are three simple ways you can take action:

  1. Talking and listening:
    Talk to a loved one about your mental health experience, or listen to a friend or family member tell you about their issue and let them know that you’re there to support them.
  2. Calling helplines:
    Call Lifeline (13 11 14) or Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636) at any time, to speak to someone for immediate support.
  3. Getting professional help:
    Consulting your GP is always a great idea. Make an appointment with your doctor or a health professional, or help and encourage your friend or family member to make an appointment.

– S x

 

OBJECTING TO OBJECTIFICATION IN HORROR MOVIES

As Halloween is on the horizon, and with the release of recent horror flicks such as The Conjuring 2 and the remake of Blair Witchit’s got us thinking about horror movies.

The role of women in horror movies has been quite a controversial issue in history. There have been many criticisms of the genre, from the way women are presented, to the explicit violence against them, and the ongoing sexual objectification.

Don’t get us wrong – not all horror movies sexualise and promote violence towards women – think horror masterpieces like The Sixth Sense (1999) – a must-watch. But in some horror films, the line between a strong female character (whether she be a victim or a killer), and a female character who is unnecessarily sexually objectified, is blurred.

In different sub-genres (thrillers, slashers, supernatural, paranormal…), women are often cast for the purposes of screaming and disrobing, using trashy and hyper-sexualized imagery which is clearly intended to please the male viewer: think Prom Night (2008).

promnight_intl_mst_pn-012_pn-0533_060-26_rImage: Brittany Snow in Prom Night (2008)

Often, these horror movies make it a fine line between pleasure and pain – the world of horror beholds many images of women drenched in blood or restrained by ropes and bindings (obviously meant to be sexy).Women are rarely seen as equal to men in horror films, nearly always victimised. These films more than often like to ensure their female characters are seen naked or half-clothed, because it hints at vulnerability, making women the submissive victims, whereas the men are the dominant.

Jessica Biel ~ "texas Chainsaw Massacre" HD Desktop BackgroundImage: Jessica Biel in Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

A great example of sexualising women in horror movies can be seen in classic vampire movies like Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). In these films, themes of lust and love are mixed with horror as vampires are aroused by beautiful women but only aim to drink their blood. In most Dracula movies, women are depicted as defenceless objects of predatory male lust.

bram-stoker-dracula-vampireImage: still from Dracula (1992)

There are many great horror films out there which have succeeded in the box office without needing to sexualise and objectify women to attract a wider audience. Do you think the hyper-sexualisation and objectification of women is simply unnecessary in the horror genre?

Let us know what you think in the comments down below!

– S x

 

 

GONE GIRL: DISASTER OR MASTERPIECE?

Is Gone Girl a pessimistic disaster or a feminist masterpiece? Based on Gillian Flynn’s #1 New York Times best-selling novel, the 2014  psychological thriller film Gone Girl,  directed by David Fincher, was a commercial and critical success. If you haven’t already seen it, stop reading this and give the movie a watch first – its elaborate plot and complex characters definitely make it worth it (we promise!).

To refresh your memory, the film stars Ben Affleck (Nick Dunne) and Rosamund Pike (Amy Dunne). Set in Missouri, it follows the story of their two characters when Nick’s wife Amy mysteriously goes missing.

Rosamund Pike’s portrayal of Amy Dunne was well-received and highly praised amongst critics. Pike effortlessly shifts Amy from a devoted wife to become a fearless, manipulative villain, bitterly discarding the role of the housewife.

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Amy, filled with rage, evidently shows that she’s not going to live by her husband’s terms or society’s expectations. While she willingly uses her stereotypical femininity when needed to deceive and punish men, she also displays stereotypically masculine traits such as anger and violence at the same time (note the Neil-Patrick Harris sex/murder scene).

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However, Amy’s character detests gender norms and does not want to be constrained by anything or anyone. She is fabulously defiant, frighteningly disturbing and horrifyingly sociopathic. You might remember her monologue from one of the film’s most memorable scenes…

“Cool girl is hot. Cool girl is game. Cool girl is fun. Cool girl never gets angry at her man. She only smiles, in a chagrined, loving manner. And then presents her mouth for fucking.”

Amy’s ‘cool girl’ speech is a scorching reflection of how men see women as objects or accessories, rather than as their own person, with a brain, a heart and an opinion. She encapsulates the idea of the male gaze and men’s sexual expectations of women, shattering men’s fantasies that women are never angry and that they are only there to serve the needs and desires of men.

Gone Girl having an unapologetic, ruthless anti-heroic female protagonist was certainly refreshing. It shows that female protagonists don’t need to be likeable or sexually objectified (whether it be in their costumes, their actions or their words) to make it an enjoyable film.

What did you think of the movie? Let us know in the comments down below!

– S x

 

4 WAYS SEXUAL OBJECTIFICATION CAN IMPACT YOU WITHOUT REALISING IT

Growing up in a culture where women are sexually objectified, young girls tend to view themselves as objects of sexual desire for others. But exposure to the sexual objectification of women doesn’t only affect us girls – it also causes male viewers to grow to be more tolerant of sexual harassment and sexual objectification in our society.

The film industry (or more broadly, pop culture) wrongfully teaches girls that their value lies in how sexy they appear to others: learning at a very young age that their sexuality exists to please others. At the same time, being sexual, or simply embracing your sexuality, is stigmatized in women but encouraged in men.

This internalised sexual objectification of women is often linked to a variety of issues:

  1. Body shame
    Studies have proven that the sexual objectification of women in films can promote an ‘unattainable beauty’ standard leading to body shame and a decrease in body positivity. Body shame and other body image issues can lead to deeper problems like eating disorders.
  2. Anxiety
    Exposure to films promoting sexual objectification often leads to something called appearance and safety anxiety in young women. Seeing films which convey scenes of women being harassed, stalked, abused or objectified can cause girls to become more concerned with issues about their personal appearance, personal safety, and interpersonal relationships. Feeling like you lack control in these areas may contribute to an increased sense of anxiety.
  3. Depression
    Depression is a big and one of the most common side effects of sexual objectification. Viewing sexual objectification occur in films often leads to women undergoing psychological experiences like self-objectification which can potentially lead to depression.
  4. Eating disorders
    Some studies have found a relationship linking sexual objectification and disordered eating. Eating disorders are often closely related to body shame, and body shame is correlated to self-objectification.

Did any of these side effects surprise you? Have you ever felt affected by sexual objectification in a film before?

Let us know in the comments down below!

– S x

 

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET: DEGRADING WOMEN ON A WHOLE NEW LEVEL?

In our second blog post, we talked about how Margot Robbie played an uber-sexualised Harley Quinn in recent film Suicide Squad. Today, we’re throwing it back to 2014 to Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, where Robbie stars as the wife of wealthy stockbroker Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. The film mimics the true story of Belfort from his rise to become a wealthy stock-broker, living the high life, to his fall: involving crime, corruption and the federal government.

The Wolf of Wall Street  was heavily criticised for its glamorous depiction of a drug and prostitute-fuelled life. However, it received far less attention and criticism for its portrayal of women than it did for glorifying this exploitative and hedonistic lifestyle. Despite the film being based on a true story with real characters, there is a fine line between accurately depicting the sexual objectification of women in Belfort’s world and succumbing to it.

Margot Robbie at first reportedly turned down the initial offer to audition because she feared that due to the role’s demand for full nudity and explicit sex scenes, she would not be seen as more than a sexual object. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll remember that most of the women in it were used as little more than sexual objects and playthings. You might remember this ‘money girl’ scene, where a girl stands in nothing but underwear, plastered in money…

money-girlImage: DailyMail

Or the infamous “daddy” scene with Robbie and DiCaprio…

margot-robbieImage: Cinemablend

If you’ve seen The Wolf of Wall Street, you may recall how the power and corruption of arrogant masculinity screams at us from every frame – women are objectified while men hold all power. The movie fails to say anything interesting about the women in it… the barbie-doll figures, hookers and strippers serve simply as props for the male protagonists as they carry on with their debauchery, drawing plenty of laughs from the audience.

Although it is based on a true story, do you think the film magnified the sexual objectification of women in order to attract a wider audience with exhilarating themes like sex, money and power? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

– S x

50 SHADES OF OBJECTIFICATION?

Unless you’ve been living in a hole, you’ve probably seen the trailers appearing all over the Internet for Fifty Shades Darker… the sequel to 2015’s anticipated blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey, which grossed $571 million worldwide. Fifty Shades of Grey is based on the best-selling (but astonishingly badly written) 2011 erotic romance novel by E.L. James, which has since sold 125 million copies worldwide. The new film, the second of E.L. James’s trilogy, Fifty Shades Darker and again starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, is due to be released on Valentine’s Day 2017. In case you’ve missed it, find the trailer below:

Like with all films centralised around the themes of sex, lust and desire, it’s difficult to distinguish the occurrence of sexual objectification from themes of sex within the movie. But Fifty Shades of Grey is different to a lot of films with its focus on dominance and submission, which in a sense perpetuates violence against women, objectification and inequality, concealed beneath weak attempts at the portrayal of romance. It also generates self-objectification amongst women – causing women to “try to be seen and get attention in a mediated and porn-ified culture“.

The plot can be briefly summarised in one sentence: Anastasia Steele, an introverted woman with no self-esteem, becomes rich businessman Christian Grey’s sexual object, or “Submissive” as he calls her, for the entirety of the film. He never views Anastasia as a person, let alone an independent woman. If these are the messages that the first film promoted to young women, what will the second film be like?

The Fifty Shades Darker trailer hints that the film will include a horror or thriller element – is this to try and distract from the fact that the trilogy is all about sexual objectification? Ironically, we will have to wait until Valentine’s Day to find out.

– S x

 

BAD NEIGHBOURS 2: HOW BAD IS IT REALLY?

New release Bad Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising drew in less than half the revenue that its 2014 original raked in. Bad Neighbours 1, starring Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Dave Franco and Rose Byrne, follows a couple who come into conflict with a fraternity that has recently moved in next door. It was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $270 million worldwide. But one thing obvious about the film is the sexist attitude the frat boys possess and their sexual objectification towards women. Unlike Bad Neighbours 1, which revolved around the sexist presumptions of frat boys, Bad Neighbours 2 is fuelled by the rejection of that sexism by three freshmen college girls.

The three main characters – Shelby, Beth and Nora, attend their first frat party, which, to their dismay, is at a house that has a ‘no means yes’ banner on display. After shortly ditching the ‘rapey’ party, they soon discover, to their horror, that sororities aren’t allowed to throw parties in their houses, forcing them to hang out at frats, where they are judged on their looks and treated like meat. Rather than subjecting themselves to the sexual objectification of guys at frat parties, the empowered freshmen decide to form their own sorority to fight against this.

Bad Neighbours 2 is refreshingly radical in its underlying message that women can do whatever they want, even if that means getting drunk and partying way too hard. Despite showing clips that would suggest physical attractiveness is an ultimate quality desired by the men in the movie, the film takes a deliberate shift in perspective to give women a legitimate voice, while intensely focusing the laughs at the frat boys that were the focus of the first movie. It revolves around themes including feminism, gender equality, friendship and empowerment, a high contrast to the sexist first movie. In rightly shutting down men’s sexual objectification of women, and women’s uncomplaining endurance of it in the interest of social acceptance, Bad Neighbours 2 envisions a segregation of the sexes that, while aimed at breaking the unquestioned cycle of a sexualised social life, pushes aside the theme of sex itself, showing that #SheIsMoreThan.

So did Bad Neighbours 1 achieve double the success of its sequel because of the increased nudity, sex and attractive women drawing in audiences? Or is it simply because most sequels tend to do worse than the original movie?

Have you seen the Bad Neighbours sequel yet? We’d love to hear your opinion in the comments!

– S x