Liberate Women in Pop Culture

Sophie Stoddart, Reporter

Teens and adults today have become accustomed to the frequent sexualization and objectification of women in films, music videos and on social media. 

Although it is already 2021, we still face the same problems concerning the liberation of women in pop culture, as in the past. 

Many believe that today, women have complete control over how they present themselves to the public. 

However, that is untrue considering that women face overwhelming social pressure to dress and behave a certain way to receive validation and approval from the public. 

Studies show that the normalization of sexualized images in the media can cause self-objectification and appearance anxiety in young women and girls. 

There is very obvious and persistent sexualization of female actresses in TV shows and movies. 

Unfortunately, not only do adult female actresses experience this, but child actresses do as well. 

Actress Natalie Portman has spoken out about her career, and admitted the toll being a young Hollywood actress had on her mental health and self-image, exacerbated by the knowledge that adult men were sexualizing her even when she was thirteen. 

She believes actresses should have more say in their portrayals, and that there should be more women with positions of power in the entertainment industry to achieve equality and social justice. 

The only way to improve this issue is by giving actresses more control over how they are presented on camera. 

With more female voices in the production process, the entertainment industry would be able to support the notion of actresses having a say in their costumes and stage depictions.

Not only is the recurring sexualization of women seen in film, but it is also prevalent in the music industry. It is seen in the rap and pop genres, such as with artists like Nicki Minaj, Cardi B., Megan Thee Stallion, Beyoncé and Britney Spears. 

Society has taught performers that revealing outfits and provocative dancing is the easy way to draw attention to their music, as if their sheer talent is not enough. On the other hand, some women also believe that this is a form of empowerment. 

“It’s a complicated issue,” ethnic studies and psychology teacher Christina Varela said.

“The music industry has a history of objectifying women for the male gaze. On the other side, there are women who say they choose to dress and perform this way as a form of empowerment. Although, how much of it is your choice? In your subconscious, were you not initially taught to do this?” 

Nonetheless, it would be much better for artists’ mental health if they could dress and dance however they would like, as long as it is their choice and they do it because they feel it truly represents them, not because that is what the industry expects of them. 

To those who say that sexualization of women in pop culture is solely for entertainment purposes, and that these women enjoy this aspect of their careers, how would they feel if it were their mother, sister, or daughter portrayed on the television screen? Would they still feel the same way? 

Think about the impressionable young women who are exposed to the media everyday, and how they feel trying to adhere to a gender norm of dressing provocatively. 

   “It starts with changing how we socialize our children,” Varela said. 

   “Due to gender norms, we put everyone in a little box, which limits who we can be. It starts when we are very little.”

   This issue has been occurring for decades, so the world has become blind to it. 

   We must put in plenty of effort in order to liberate women from the oppressive double standard pop culture and society have set for them.