When it comes to women and religion, the figure of Eve is often pointed to as an excuse for female subordination. Eve was made from Adam’s rib; Eve was the one who tempted Adam; Eve was the originator of all sin— all the poor girl did was eat an apple from a tree and suddenly, the whole world was blaming her for their problems. Creation stories and religious extremists would like us to believe that Eve’s weakness was her downfall and that in turn, her femaleness was the key to Adam’s. She is painted as a temptress when in actuality, the conversation could’ve really gone something like this:
ADAM: Hey Eve, let me have a bite of that apple, would ya? I’m starving over here.
And so on and so forth.
The main issue with this argument— that Eve is the rightful bearer of blame— is that her guilt rests on the century-old sexualization and degradation of her character by outside informants. When it came down to it, Eve didn’t have any more control over how her femaleness was perceived by the men who wrote the Bible than the woman who walks down the street and get catcalled by creepy hecklers. Objectification is in the eye of the beholder.
The female body is not innately sexualized— advertising and media have just made it the norm to believe that it is. I mean, think about it— both men and women are in possession of nipples and yet, only women’s bodies are deemed to horrible to be shown on social media. This double standard was brought to very public attention by Lina Esco’s Free the Nipple campaign. It’s also highlighted by laws that allow men to go topless in every state while women face much stricter legislature. In places such as Tennessee, Indiana and Utah, it’s completely illegal for a woman to be topless in public. That means women could face jail time for lacking the same article of clothing that most men shuck as soon as they hit the beach.
Blaming women and girls for the sexualization of their own bodies also continues to perpetuate victim blaming (and shaming) in cases of sexual assault and harassment. Assuming that attire was the instigator of assault and not the attacker’s own skewed sense of morality also assumes that the victim is responsible for controlling the thought processes of everyone around her. It’s as illogical and implausible as saying that the victim of a bear attack is responsible for the actions of the bear that mauled them. Just like you can’t place the actions of a rapist on the rape victim, you can’t place the action of sexualizing on the object of sexualization.
Unfortunately, objectification and sexualization have now become the roots of other issues that are making it harder and harder to grow up girl. Reports are now showing that kids as young as five-years-old are showing signs of body dysmorphia and one-in-four children as young as seven have developed a dieting habit. Sexualization and objectification are putting higher pressures on children to fit into a certain type of mold in order to achieve what the media insists is the “perfect body.” By feeding into industries that promote women’s bodies as nothing more than objects to be used and disposed of, we perpetuate a culture that teaches young children that their value is directly linked to their physical appearance, a way of thinking that actually increases depression rates.
I don’t know about you, but that’s not the kind of world I want for my little sisters.
Feature image here.