Picture this: you are getting out of your car to go into the local Food Lion. As you walk by, you see a man smoking a cigar outside the store. Out of nowhere, you hear him say, “Aye lil’ momma!” He then starts catcalling you, focusing on your body’s physical features. You continue walking, not letting him finish what he is saying.
If this hasn’t happened to you, you are one of the lucky 16% of women that haven’t been catcalled or sexually harassed. Unfortunately, this means that 84% of women, by the time they are 17, have been catcalled by strange men, according to researchers at Cornell University.
To many, catcalling is a form of harassment as women are often sexualized when it is done. Due to the environment I grew up in and being a woman, I have been sexualized my whole life. I was even sexualized inside my household growing up. Even though I am a second-year college student, my parents still try to control what I wear whenever I visit back home. Loose-fitting clothes and clothing that hide my body shape are a must in my parents’ home.
This behavior is the objectification of my body. “Women and girls are more likely than men and boys to be objectified and sexualized…” according to Psychology Today. In my experience, however, it is not just men sexualizing and objectifying women. Women are also at fault. Why is this? Why is it so easy for men and women to objectify and sexualize each other?
According to a study from the Journal of Eating Disorders, the answer to this question can be found in televised advertisements, social media, magazines, video games, billboards and clothing stores. In short, we live in a very sexualized society. Almost everywhere we look, women, and sometimes even men, are dressed and posed in seductive ways to help sell something.
Many hold the opinion that it is the woman’s fault if she gets catcalled and objectified because she knows what she put on that morning. This is wrong. It is never the victim’s fault for being victimized.
A man or woman can control what comes out of his or her mouth. They can control what they say and do, especially if they are mature beings. Why would a man or woman be able to control what they do? At a young age, we are all taught the difference between right and wrong. Our social norms have taught us what is acceptable in our society. Therefore, we know what we can and cannot do.
Can you now see that the above argument, that it is the woman’s fault if she is sexualized because she tempted the catcaller is false? People know what they are doing because we all have been taught right from wrong.
Some may argue that we live in a sexualized society so we should just get over it. This is a very ignorant argument. The sexualization of women, as well as the objectification of women, causes women and men to have problems with their body images, self-esteem, and anxiety, according to a study from the Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Therefore, we can not ignore the fact that women are being sexualized and objectified. Objectification and sexualization has detrimental mental health effects for its victims. We cannot just ignore these negative attributes.
So, what’s the next move? The next move is to change the way we advertise for our communities. Advertisements and social media tell those who catcall, sexualize and objectify others that it is acceptable. It may be difficult to change the way we advertise since we live in a society where “Sex Sells.” We have been advertising in this manner for generations, so change might come slow. One thing we humans can do, is make a change, but only if we want it enough.