Since writing “embracing their femininity”, I stumbled upon a photo feature of surfer Erica Hosseini in STAB Magazine’s Hard Cover Book, December 2011, that pushes Big Surfing’s fetishized “feminine” to it’s most hyper-sexualized yet.
STAB ostensibly tries to get away with this image by using a play on Hosseini’s last name, a double entendre, a “joke” used to present the young surfer as a “little horse”. What does one do with a horse? Taking the “joke” to its inevitable conclusion, are we not meant to see “little Hoss” ready to be ridden from behind?
With a recent report out by the CDC that puts the amount of women raped in the US at about 20%, and the connections made by the 2010 American Psychological Association Report on the Sexualization of Girls, regarding the incidences of violence toward women being positively correlated to images like this one, such a “joke,” such an image, in any context, is greatly concerning.
A Call To Action:
It is absolutely essential that companies, media, and organizations that use images like these or who have sponsored athletes that pose in these ways be avoided. The only way Big Surfing will cease to present and treat women (and men!) as objects to be used, abused, then tossed aside, is if those who purchase their wares speak with their voices and with their pocket books. Find out who fetishizes surfing and stop purchasing product from them… do not buy products that advertise, sponsor, or promote, these images! Support those who support healthy and authentic visions of surfing.
Why is this so important?
“Sexualized portrayals of women have been found to legitimize or exacerbate violence against women and girls, as well as sexual harassment and anti-women attitudes among men and boys,” Hatton says. “Such images also have been shown to increase rates of body dissatisfaction and/or eating disorders among men, women and girls; and they have even been shown to decrease sexual satisfaction among both men and women.”
Boys and Men
(excerpts below are from the APA report on the Sexualization of Girls)
The sexualization of girls can have a negative impact on boys and men. Exposure to narrow ideals of female sexual attractiveness may make it difficult for some men to find an “acceptable” partner or to fully enjoy intimacy with a female partner (Schooler & Ward, 2006).
Objectifying girls/women and sex itself is integral to masculinity beliefs (Connell, 1987; Kimmel, 1996; Tolman, 2002), but these beliefs may jeopardize men’s ability to form and maintain intimate relationships with women (G. Brooks, 1995; Kindlon & Thompson, 1999; Pollack, 1998). Burn and Ward (2005) found that undergraduate men’s satisfaction with their romantic relationship was negatively correlated with most masculinity beliefs, including ones that are relevant to the objectification of women (i.e., dominance [“I should be in charge”], power over women [“In general, I control the women in my life”], and playboy [“If I could, I would frequently change sexual partners”]).
Empathy may be important in understanding the relationship between objectification and relationship satisfaction. When one person objectifies another, it is difficult, perhaps even impossible, to treat that person with empathy (Herman, 1992), an important predictor of satisfaction and stability in intimate relationships (Davis & Oathout, 1987; Long & Andrews, 1990).
If girls and women are seen exclusively as sexual beings rather than as complicated people with many interests, talents, and identities, boys and men may have difficulty relating to them on any level other than the sexual.This could dramatically limit the opportunities boys and men have to interact intellectually with girls and women, to compete with and against them in sports or games, to create art or make music with them, to work together for higher causes (e.g., volunteer work or activism), or to enjoy their company as friends.