Normalization of Porn


Posted on February 18th, by Hayley in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Thinly Disguised Porn. 2 comments

When I was young I thought the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue was the one issue each year intended for women readers. I thought it was like a fashion magazine, showing women the newest swimsuit styles.

I didn’t think much of the swimsuit issue until a few years ago, when in my previous job I was responsible for my boss’ mail. He subscribed to SI so when the swimsuit issue arrived I flipped through it out of curiosity, just to see what it was like. And it was confusing. Numerous women didn’t even have swimsuits on, but were covered in body paint. I’d already figured out that my earlier belief that the issue was targeted to women was false, but I hadn’t before realized just how pornographic it was. Really, there is very little, if any, difference between a cover of Playboy and SI’s swimsuit cover. Except one of them is covered in black plastic at the gas station and the other is on a billboard in Times Square.

Today the About Face blog posted an article written by Lexie Kite of Beauty Redefined. She said all the things I think about the swimsuit issue, but in a more scholarly way than I could, with facts and stuff.

Here’s an excerpt:

“I, and many other scholars, argue that the SI Swimsuit Issue profits from a philosophy of constructing men as active, women as passive; men as subjects, women as objects; men as actors, women as receivers; men as the lookers and women as the looked-at; and I argue, men as consumers and women as the “to-be-consumed” (Betterton, 1987). Women today have been socialized to see themselves through the male gaze so that they are both spectators and spectacles. As spectators of themselves, women learn from popular media, in this case the wildly popular Swimsuit Issue, to compare their appearances with the media’s feminine ideal, becoming objects of their own gaze. This feminine ideal, as proven again and again by the Swimsuit Issue, leads women to internalize these mediated ideals and constantly work to live up to these perfected “norms” of beauty while leading men to believe these qualities are essential (and attainable) in a mate. Essentially, “the feminine ideal is tanned, healthy slenderness, with no unsightly bumps, bulges, or cellulite, and bodily and facial perfection that results from hours of labor: exercise, makeup, and hair care” ( Kuhn, 1985), and 20 years later, plastic surgery and digital manipulation.”

Read her entire piece here.





2 Responses to “Normalization of Porn”

  1. Lexie says:

    Hi Hayley!
    I just saw About-Face linked my story, and also noticed you blogging about it. Thank you so much for helping me spread the word! My identical twin and I are getting our PhDs in media studies and are trying to spread our research to anyone and everyone that can listen. Thank you so much for linking back to our website, beautyredefined.net, as well. Feel free to link anything there and share however possible. This is a message I feel so strongly about and I appreciate you feeling the same. Together, we can fight back against these horribly dangerous ideals we see as normal every day! Have a good day :)

    Lexie

  2. […] With 2 Y’s, Hayley’s Blog: Normalization of Porn […]

Leave a Reply