Free Sexuality As A Commodity Term Paper Sample

Type of paper: Term Paper

Topic: Women, Commodity, Men, Business, Media, Commerce, Body, Demand

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2021/03/23

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Introduction

The reason why sex is viewed as a female commodity is that for a man, sex is all about benefit with little or no cost at all, whereas for a woman, sex involves a potential cost in the form of pregnancy, endurance of pain during childbirth and probable death from it (Baumeister and Vohs, 2004). Since sex is costly for a woman, unless there is an incentive, a woman would like to hold back her sexuality, and therefore, a man offers a woman some benefits to offset this (Symon, 1979). This paper would discuss women as sexual commodity in greater detail, touching upon the economic benefit, the view of female sexuality as a commodity by both men and women and the role media plays in the whole scenario of objectifying women.

Men’s View of Women as a Sexual Commodity

A typical heterosexual society can be viewed as a marketplace in which men have the important decision making power to organize and control the elements of society, including children and women. In this heterosexual market place, men seek sex from women by offering various things in exchange. It appears men create the demand of sex as a purchaser and customer and women are the sellers and suppliers of sex (Gervais et al., 2013). It is women’s sexuality that is endowed with different values, such as fidelity, virginity, and chastity. In comparison, male sensuality is regarded as worthless, and no value is attached to male sexuality. Therefore, it is not a societal trend to give something valuable to a man in exchange for his sexual behaviors. Rather, it is women who are subjected to gifts for the exchange of sexual pleasure. Therefore, sexual intercourse between a man and women is a matter of a huge inequality. It is rather an exchange in which men must offer something valuable to the women in return for her values (sex) (Symon, 1979).
Like any marketplace, the heterosexual marketplace is too driven by the demand and supply of female sex. If the demand is high, the price is high, and if the supply is lower to demand, then the price is low. Similarly, in this marketplace too, competition exists among women in terms of projecting their sensuality to men. The more a woman draws the attention of men, the higher a price she can demand (Baumeister and Vohs, 2004). A woman’s attractiveness is measured by her physical beauty, complexion and overall sensual appeal. An attractive woman, therefore, draws more attention and profit for a business, which explains why all sorts of media try to objectify women to earn profit. A woman tries to conform of the local norms of attractiveness in order to draw male attention. This explains that since the popular culture views slim and white women as the object of men's desire, an increasing number of women starve themselves to look like the models and actresses they view on screen.

Media Projections of Women as Sexual Commodity and Economic Profit

All the media houses go by the assumption "sex sells" and it is true because several researches point out to the profit earned by putting an attractive woman on display (Gervais et al., 2013). Though women have always been projected as a sexual commodity by various types of media and advertising, the trend has witnessed a huge spike in the last 15 years, with slim, white women being offered as pin-up girls to gratify the sexual fantasy of men. A group of researchers reviewed the ads and posters published in popular magazines such as Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Playboy, Esquire, Time, and Newsweek between the period of 1983 and 2003, and they came to the finding that the use of women as sexual commodity has increased by 27% in these two decades (Mulvey, 2012). Starting from the promotion of alcohol to banking services, all the ads are injected with sexual element with an attractive model endorsing the product.
For example, a newspaper ad for Dragon Electronics showcases a sexy woman clad in a tight fitting low-cut dress with her huge cleavage and breasts protruded for limelight attraction. Interestingly, the woman is placed in the foreground with a provocative posture, while the household appliances, which should be the primary focus of the advertisement, are placed in the background (Gervais et al., 2013). A poster published by the Zagat guide for eastern Canada showcases cuisines resembling the bosom of a woman. Apparently, in order to hike sales for the 2014 edition, Guide Restos issued such a sexually suggestive poster (Bahadur, 2014)
.

The poster of raw food published by Zagat guide for eastern Canada (Bahadur, 2014)

In magazines and posters, often different parts of women's body such as legs, lips, eyes, abdomen and breasts are magnified to draw the attention of the viewers. Especially, focus is laid on the zooming in of the breasts. According to Kilbourne (2010), the western culture is obsessed with breasts, and this begets an environment in which women are projected as a sexual commodity to sell their bodies with little focus paid to the actual products being sold (Gervais et al., 2013). For example, a jeans commercial uses the catchphrase "The first thing he said he noticed was your great personality, he lied" (Bahadur, 2014). Sex is used even for selling non-sexual items such as pasta, cookie, and crackers. For instance, in an ad of Oreo commercial, a seductive image of a cookie is created using the catchphrase "Your lips look lonely, may I keep them company?” (Bahadur, 2014). Such sexual insinuations, both implicit and explicit, aim at illustrating the body of a woman as an object for viewers, both male and female.
Not only advertisements and posters, popular television channels like ABC, NBC and HBO too sell woman’s body to garner profit. The more revealing clothes a woman wears in a program, the more it draws viewership. Cathouse, for example, is a popular late night show of HBO in which the professional lives of sex workers at a Moonlite Bunny Ranch, a brothel in Nevada, are documented (Costanza, 2012). This show, which is a low-cost production with no press releases or promotional campaigns launched by HBO to promote this series and takes place at midnight, has 1.3 million of viewers tuned in to this show till date (Costanza, 2012).

Do Women view Sex as a Female Commodity?

As regards whether women see themselves as a sexual commodity, it is a debatable issue, because according to a group of feminists, the social exchange theory through which a sexual economics between men and women is established is sexist and is the hostile creation of men who try to suppress women empowerment and therefore, these men try to promulgate how women enter the competition in attracting male attention (Rudman and Fetterolf, 2014). However, taking into account this view, it cannot be denied that women view sex as a female commodity. The women who participate in modelling shows, ramp walks, beauty competitions, advertisements, and television shows wearing tight-fitting dresses, skimpy clothes, and bikini or wearing nothing at all are all a part of the heterosexual marketplace and they willingly let themselves and their bodies to be projected like a commodity (Gervais et al., 2013). The women who participate in television shows such as Real Sex and Cathouse are all aware of their sensuality and they try to project their sensuality in order to make a living for themselves. In fact, research shows that the objectification of women in television shows and ads targets women customers more than men, because women get naturally attracted to a slim and pretty actor showcased in an ad and try to make over their own appearance in the style of their favorite on-screen icons (Utt, 2011). This explains why teenagers and young women try various means to reduce their weight and gain the shape of their on-screen woman idol.

Conclusion

Women have always been used like a sexual commodity in the world. Prostitution, which is regarded as one of the oldest professions in the world, is the creation of men in order to satisfy their own sexual pleasure. In a heterosexual community, men create the demand for sex and perform the roles of consumers, while women supply that demand by selling their bodies. The relationship exchanged between a prostitute and her customer also replicates itself in the relationship exchanged between a man and a woman in the cultural setup formed by the society. Sex is viewed as a female commodity mainly because of the costs associated with it. Invariably, it is a woman who remains on the receiving side for a sexual encounter, while for a man sex is a pure enjoyment. This theory of exchange also influences the social culture and make-up the society in which women enter into a competition with other women in drawing the attention of men. Media projections of women as a sexual commodity underlie the same assumption that female sexuality is valuable and worthy of earning profit. Women too are aware of their own sensuality, which explains why women willingly take participation in different strategies targeted at using women’s body as a sexual commodity for making profit, because they know that sex, which is a female commodity, sells.

References

Martín, C. F. (2012). Porno-Chic and Advertising in Women’s Magazines. Women's History Network Blog. Retrieved on 22nd April, 2015 from <http://womenshistorynetwork.org/blog/?tag=womens-bodies-as-commodities>
Costanza, J.A. (2012). Sexist Portrayals Of Women Still Dominate Prime Time TV: Study. International Business Times. Retrieved on 22nd April, 2015 from <http://www.ibtimes.com/sexist-portrayals-women-still-dominate-prime-time-tv-study-880498>
Bahadur, N. (2014). 7 Ridiculously Sexual Ads For Totally Unsexy Things. The Huffington Post. Retrieved on 22nd April, 2015 from <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/23/sex-sells-ads-should-have-thought-twice_n_4653226.html>
Mulvey, J. (2012). Why Sex SellsMore Than Ever. Business Daily. Retrieved on 22nd April, 2015 from <http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/2649-sex-sells-more.html>
Symons, D. (1979). The evolution of human sexuality. New York: Oxford University Press.
Baumeister, R., & Vohs, K. (2004). Sexual Economics: Sex as Female Resource for Social Exchange in Heterosexual Interactions. Personality And Social Psychology Review, 8(4), 339-363. doi:10.1207/s15327957pspr0804_2
Rudman, L., & Fetterolf, J. (2014). Gender and Sexual Economics: Do Women View Sex as a Female Commodity?. Psychological Science, 25(7), 1438-1447. doi:10.1177/0956797614533123
Utt, J. (2011). Profitable Objectification: The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Change From Within. <http://changefromwithin.org/2011/12/01/profitable-objectification/>
Gervais, S., Holland, A., & Dodd, M. (2013). My Eyes Are Up Here: The Nature of the Objectifying Gaze Toward Women. Sex Roles, 69(11-12), 557-570. doi:10.1007/s11199-013-0316-x

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