Since everyone is talking about what or who violated him or her in the past (a positive trend, generally speaking), here’s something that kinda makes me feel violated, almost daily.
The ubiquitous sexually suggestive bilboards.
Here in Bratislava the most prominent ones are the ad campaigns from Tezena, some underwear company.
Am I not pushing it a bit too far when I claim these ads are a form of violence?
I think not.
I am a physically healthy, relatively young, male. I am expected to play by the rules, I am allowed to have sex, but preferably with only one woman, otherwise people will frown at the very least. I am not allowed, nor do I want to, invade a woman’s personal space in any way, if she does not consent. Am fine with that. I get to have sex with infinitely less women than I would like to. I mean, you can know this about me, if I had omnipotence, I would have sex with someone new every day, or at least every two weeks.
If you think that’s sick, then fine, maybe I am a simpleton who likes simple pleasures, but what happens in my thoughts is still perfectly legal, doesn’t bother anyone. In reality little ever comes of those thoughts, and I have some fragile peace with that, sort of. Luckily I am interested in many things, and studying plus being of service to others distracts me from desires that can’t possibly be ever fulfilled. Life is not a beer commercial, I get that.
But at the same time I live in a culture that on the one hand, makes real, actual sex very complicated, very burdened by all sorts of rules, and the other hand sex is suggested to me everywhere.
I walk to work and there is this Tezena billboard, flooding my mind with a provocative sensual image, with a woman who has emphasized her sexual attributes. I know it’s totally fake, but the animal part of my brain can’t differentiate. The image pops up, my brain sees sex. It’s not even an image that really turns me on, it’s too fake, too grotesque, but still, my body reacts a bit. This requires the expenditure of willpower, however small, that I would prefer to not have to use.
I really do not need to be reminded of sex walking to work. Especially not in a culture that expects me to go through life as a castrated male, 98 percent of the time. Especially not in a city that is bristling with gorgeous women who know how to dress.
I just really do not need this extra sensual image hammered into my skulls, injected into my bloodstream. I cannot ask those omnipresent gorgeous women to dress differently, I don’t want to force them to wear burkas, they can do whatever they want. I will still respect the rules.
But this billboard… Well, I wouldn’t mind if I never had to look at it again, not even for one second. In a way it’s like showing starving people pictures of delicious food and culturally restrict access to it. When I see some delicious vegan burger on a billboard, fine, I can go and buy it. Sex is not food, of course, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be bought, and it can’t be bought. What you pay a prostitute for is not sex, you compensate her in advance for being allowed to violate her. You could say: ‘well, turn to porn’. No, I will not. I boycot porn, for all kinds of reasons. Not only does it do obvious damages to males who consume porn too often, but there’s a lot of abuse in the industry and I don’t want to make people rich by clicking on it, plus, it doesn’t even turn me on, it’s too fake.
So I accept that as a male I will always have to contend with a certain level of sexual frustration, sometimes less, sometimes more, and I can live with that, I just don’t need to get annoying messages on every street corner and every tram and bus stop.
While am at it, it’s not just ‘sexy’ ads.
So lately we are collectively bringing sex offenders to heel, which is good, if they did cross a line, but at the same time there’s an other trend. And that trend we do not condemn or examine.
Go to instagram for example.
Why do so many women have to post this infinite flood of sexy selfies? We are striving on the one hand to prevent inappropriate sexual behavior, but a minority of women has this pathological drive to try and be sexy on social media, all the time, almost every minute of the day.
If we agree that we don’t want women to be violated in any way, then why don’t we ask if all these provocative selfies are really necessary?
No, it’s not an excuse to force yourself on these women, it’s not an invitation for more, but why do they do it? There seems to be a sick drive behind that as well. Why do they feel the need to present themselves as sexy, not once in a while, but all the time, every day. What void are they trying to fill? And do they have any idea how it makes men really feel? I unfollow immediately I must say. Go and bother someone else with your so called sexy poses.
Bottom line: we have created a sexually suggestive cultural environment, BUT, at the same time we are very restrictive about actual sex, especially outside of the traditional norm of a longterm monogamous relationship. Isn’t that like setting the rules in opposition?
I think it’s confusing and unnecessary to say the least.
I’m not going to start an activist group to try and ban ‘sexy’ billboards, I wouldn’t get much support anyway, but next time you see one, just think about the very mixed signals we are served every day.