Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Object Project

Summer Discovery had to change our original plans of going to Ocean City to going to the Franklin Mills Outlet Mall for the day because of inclement weather. Audrey, our friend Ali and I used this as a learning experience, and observed examples of capitalism, media portrayals, and objectification of especially women and also men. We were especially horrified by Spencer's, which calls itself a gift shop but suddenly turns into a sex store when you go towards the back. It is open to all ages, selling sexist products for anyone from infants to elderly. Spencer's is right next to a maternity store. The products in Spencer's I was most astonished by were the onesies for babies which had vulgar language and sexist sayings on them. Whoever designed these outfits was probably trying to make a joke, but imagining children being introduced to these terrible messages before they can even form their own thoughts is outraging. 

To the right, a cover of The Big Bang Theory Trivia Game is shown. The characters are all dressed in superhero attire. The girl in the front of the photo is the only one in the show who is not in the science field and is also sexually desirable to the other characters. All she is shown wearing is a bikini and a cape. We suspected the only reason she was placed in the front was to show off her body. In other stores, we encountered the marketing of various characters from media in objectifying positions. In a lot of video games, anime and other animations, the girl characters were in inappropriate attire and somewhat sexual positions versus the men depicted in full body armor and in powerful positions. It honestly makes no sense as to why the women should be fighting the same battles with less clothing. 

The GNC, or Good Nutrition Center earned most of their profit by selling diet pills by asking an employee. A custom design store had an example of a "no fat chicks sign." We also found a Proactiv advertisement with a woman proclaiming that she has stopped being passive, which we found interesting because we felt men are assumed to be aggressive and women to be pushovers. We also noted that the woman became strong enough to stand up for herself only after using a beauty product to "make her look better." The issue of objectifying women is very important to all three of us, as is what we find in capitalist/consumer culture. Although all three of us were originally disappointed with spending seven hours in a shopping mall with no desire to shop, we ended up having a lot of fun with our social experiment. Talking to people about how they felt about stores like Spencer's was fascinating (most of them seemed like they were pretty uncomfortable with the fact that it seems like it is a normal store but you make a wrong turn and you're in the middle of a bunch of pornographic images.) The fact that the first place we happened to walk into was Spencer's, not knowing it would be the type of store it turned out to be, was lucky because it inspired the rest of our day. We hope to make a blog or website dedicated to exposing the objectification of humans we have become so used to in our society. If we can notice when an image is perpetuating a harmful generalization or stigma, we can then combat it to spark change.

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