Raunch Culture: The Downfall of Feminism

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Guest writer:Justin Stern

Raunch culture: the over-sexualized culture of the United States that objectifies women and encourages women to objectify themselves in the false belief that it is a form of female empowerment. This culture pressures girls to be sexy and hot, rather than being intelligent or skilled. In Ariel Levy’s article “Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture”, she states:

When I asked female viewers and readers what they got out of raunch culture, I heard similar things about empowering miniskirts and feminist strippers, and so on, but I also heard something else. They wanted to be “one of the guys”; they hoped to be experienced “like a man”(Levy 159)

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Some girls participate in raunch culture so they can be more attractive to guys because they wish to be just “one of the guys”. They do not want to seem like a prissy little girl, or a girly girl. Although many females believe that participating in raunch culture will liberate them, this behavior is setting back the progress that feminists have already made.

Raunch culture gives off the illusion that if women are sexually liberated, they are equal to men. In all actuality, it is bringing back the stereotypes that feminism tried to get rid of. Ariel Levy testifies “How is resurrecting every stereotype of female sexuality that feminism endeavored to banish good for women? Why is laboring to look like Pamela Anderson empowering”(Levy 161)? Feminism tried to eliminate the stereotype that women are just sexual objects and that all women have to be skinny and “look like Pamela Anderson” to be liberated. Bringing these stereotypes back is erasing the progress feminism has already fought so hard to get rid of. Kim Kardashian is, without a doubt, one of the biggest reasons that these stereotypes are coming back. She became famous because her father, Robert Kardashian, represented O.J. Simpson in his murder trial, her “best friend” was Paris Hilton, but the main reason is that she released a sex tape with her ex boyfriend Ray J. Now it is not anti-feminist that she released the sex tape. What is anti-feminist is how she took advantage of the tape. She turned a potentially demeaning incident for her and her family, and turned it into a very successful branding opportunity. Within four years after her tape was released, her family got their own reality television show, Keeping up With the Kardashians. But the actions Kim took following that are the worst of all. She signed endorsement deals and licensing projects that are based on objectifying women’s insecurities; the same “insecurities” that she does not even have. Some examples of these products that she endorsed are makeup, perfumes, and skincare, all of which promise aesthetic perfection. Kim’s actions are reviving stereotypes because she is implying that those who do not look like her are inferior, which makes them want to buy her products. That is basically the same as someone breaking your leg and then trying to sell crutches to you.

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Sexualization of women in the media is inescapable. Almost everywhere you look you see the hyper-sexualized beauty standards set for women by the media: thin, white, long legs, a flat stomach, cleavage, and so much more. In today’s culture, women sexualize themselves a lot more than they did years ago. Today, magazines such as Playboy, Maxim, and FHM view women as sexual objects and show them greased up in little scraps of clothing humping the floor. Women do not sexualized themselves with the intentions of being raunchy, but to liberate themselves from society’s standards. They do it because men sexualize themselves and they want to become equal with men. Ariel Levy states, “This new raunch culture didn’t mark the death of feminism, they [editors of those magazines] told me; it was evidence that the feminist project had already been achieved”(Levy 159). She also said “If Male Chauvinist Pigs were men who regarded women as pieces of meat, we would outdo them and be Female Chauvinist Pigs: women who make sex objects out of other women and of ourselves”(Levy 159). At first, the problem with objectification was that it was subjective. It is usually from a male’s point of view now with Playboy and Maxim. Now women are objectifying themselves, which lowers their self-esteem. It can also cause women to think that their body is more valuable than all of their other aspects. This sends a terrible message to women and young girls. It is training them to become porn stars instead of presidents.

Feminism has come a long way over the years. However, people like Kim Kardashian are resurrecting stereotypes that feminists fought so hard to get rid of. They are not the only people doing this though. Sexualization of women in the media is also a large contributor to these stereotypes coming back. Entertainment magazines such as Playboy objectify women by showing pictures of them half or fully naked only to entertain men. This causes women to feel as if they are just pieces of meat that are only used for sexual purposes. This causes todays culture to pressure girls to focus more on their looks and how other people see them rather than focus on all of their other attributes. They are also pressured to keep up with the media’s hyper-sexualized beauty standards of being thin, having long legs, a flat stomach, and large cleavage and butt. Some women are genetically incapable of achieving all of these standards causing their self-esteem to drop. This is how raunch culture was born; since some women are unable to conform to these standards, they must make sex objects out of themselves and all other women in order to feel liberated.

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