Infantilization of Women in Media
By Sierra Howard
In advertisement, companies have a habit of portraying women as children, and children as women. This is called infantilization. According to Oxford Dictionary, it is to treat someone as a child or in a way that denies age and maturity.
In terms of advertising, corporations completely dissolve the meaning of what a woman is and what a child is.
While men are practically pushed into manhood, having to prove themselves; women never seem to age and children and are seen as children in the eyes of marketers.
But why? Why do companies feel like it’s okay to make money off subtle subliminal pedophelia?
To anyone who can see through these advertisements, it surely does raise concerns, doesn’t it? Why are fully grown female humans being portrayed as little girls in the media? It sends the wrong message.
It pushes unwanted dominant submissive relationships. Not only does it push rape culture, but it definitely diminishes women.
It socializes girls and boys inappropriately by diving into dominant-submissive culture, in relation to infantilization. It perpetuates the idea that women will never be in control because they’re apparently “too child like.”
It insinuates that females should assume submissive roles.
Body language of course plays a major role. A woman seen reclining can be interpreted as her giving up, powerless, and subordinate.
In relation to a man, who’s always seen as standing, tall, and has a firm gaze or sometimes their face is not even shown.
That is most commonly interpreted as dominant.
These images cause power struggle. According to Erving Goffman, author of Gender Advertisements, lying on the floor or on a sofa or bed seems also to be a conventionalized expression of sexual availability. Especially when they are sexualized.
He mentions poses like the “bashful knee bend” seen in a Gucci ad, tilted head or body have underlying tones of the fight and flight of a woman.
To be honest, these Ads carry pedophiliac subliminal messages that entice rape culture.
Just looking at them for a while gives off a feeling of extreme sexualization, even the smallest things, like a young woman eating a burger, or a popsicle.
It makes you question what others may think when they see it.
Oxford Journals mentions that it was not until the 1970s that sexualization in popular culture became more prevalent.
The concern for child sexual abuse rose as well. This can lead to beliefs that theses advertisements correlate with the sexual abuse of women and children.
“This sexual climate teaches children from an early age to associate violence with sex, and that sex is the defining characteristic in a relationship” (Levin & Kilbourne). Basically, from a male perspective, this teaches boys to always demand power over women and leads to the belief that sexually abusing them is okay.
In the other way, it creates a false concept of, “If he hits me, it’s just because he loves me.”
From a personal point of view, working as an usher for a theater that puts on dance shows during the summer, I thought it would be nice to see girls perform.
I was amazed by the dances being done because there was so many in so little time.
As I continued to work there for sometime, I started to realize that I was basically watching young girls who were scandalously moving the way grow women move.
I realized that there is some normalcy in watching young girls parading around in skimpy clothes for the purpose of entertainment and capitalism.
The infantilization of women takes us back years, undoing the work done by our predecessors.
The Guardian also reflects sexualization from a discussion of gender power into a discussion of the inappropriate signification of sexual desire in children.
Toynbee P., the writer who penned “Girlification is Destroying All the Hope We Felt in 1968,” insists that we stay firm to the true feminist movement, and shift away from the sexualization of children and infantilization of women.