More DW Blogs DW.COM

Women Talk Online

A forum for women to talk to women

The Business of Women’s Bodies

Anyone tuning into mainstream pop music would find that a huge amount of songs seems to be interested in women’s bodies, whether through the lyrics or the video, which more often than not features one-dimensional women wearing little clothing, prancing around in front of the camera, playing no significant role other than to add a hint of sexuality in a neat package sold to the masses.

Female objectification in the US music industry is standard and Cambodia is gradually following in its footsteps, as it absorbs more of the pop culture spoonfed by the mass media.

One of the most glaring examples is “Voom” by singer-songwriter Tena. The song, from 2014, explicitly describes a woman’s body parts as though they are separate objects. “I am crazy about women with white skin, V-shaped face, and shapely legs,” he croons.

To add insult to injury, the music video features women dancing awkwardly in a brightly-lit club, whilst two move around and try to get the attention of a man sitting in a chair in a position of power.

Tena is particularly known for his sexist songs with his lyrics constantly depicting women as submissive and controlled by men. It is terrfying that he is so popular and famous.

As if this were not bleak enough, the music industry is not the only one to treat women as second-class citizens. The advertising industry is notorious for its low opinion of women. Since the sole purpose of advertising is to attract and sell, the catchphrase “sex sells” is the industry’s anthem.

Food commercials often feature scantily clad women handling or consuming food in an extremely sexual way, some clearly want the process to echo that of oral sex. In other commercials, especially in print, women, or parts of their bodies, are portrayed to be an extended part of the product.

Burger King once released a controversial commercial featuring a profile of a woman with her mouth wide-opened, her eyes bugged and glazed. A burger seemed to glide into the woman’s open mouth. “It’ll blow your mind away!” the copy read.

The consequences of female objectification are grievous. Emma Rooney, from NYU Steinhardt, has written about the effects on women, not only direct victims but those who consume media. She has found that sexual objectification is “directly and indirectly linked to various mental distresses and disorders in women, including anxiety, depression, disordered eating, and reduced experiences of flow and productivity.”

Cambodia is not immune to this originally Western phenomenon. During recent years, the Cambodian mass media have been full of advertisements for diet pills, weight loss tricks and advice.

People are developing a stronger desire for the corset waistline, just as fast food chains are opening all over the kingdom. In the US, two thirds of adults are considered overweight or obese and this trend is spreading to Asia and Cambodia too.

Popular shows such as Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show only fuel the downward spiral of self-esteem.

As pop culture continues to be globalized, female objectification cannot be overlooked. Women’s lives are already a constant battle.

Author: Catherine V. Harry (act)



23.07.2018 | 12:33