Thursday, January 19, 2012

Women doing (sexualized?) yoga: insulting or not?

I normally wouldn't watch this ad ...

... and go, "OMG, that is SO sexualizing yoga!" I wouldn't say that partially because I wouldn't actually use those words, but also because I watched it and didn't see it as sexualizing. Tiring, yes. Acrobatically proficient, yes. Beautiful to watch, yes. Sexualizing, no.

And yet, some do. From The Dish:
Yoga advertising has been trying for a while now to make me feel bad about my body so that I get insecure enough to buy whatever they are selling. This is the number one MO of teen and adult women’s magazines (and men’s magazines for that matter): subtly hit the reader in an insecure place so that they buy more of this magazine and its products....

I think if I wasn’t a yogi or a woman or some combination of things that make me who I am, I’d see just the beauty of the video and move along. But the woman in the video is not only sexy, she is sexualized. This video exemplifies the male gaze: the sense that a woman is being watched, looked on as an object, (in pieces, at that: hip, thigh, butt, feet) from the heterosexual male perspective. Some feminists argue that even when women subject themselves to and desire this gaze, they are towing the line of the norms of a gender-unequal society (this is a big topic: see Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema“). This video pretends intimacy and innocence (just rolled out of bed for a 3.29 minute morning practice? Really?) but is carefully crafted: the lace underwear, the unmade bed, the closeups of hair coming loose and quick breathing, not to mention the butt shots in updog: it all says, subtly but very clearly, SEX. Heterosexual sex that puts the male gaze in a position of priority, and minimizes the female gaze (which some say can’t or doesn’t exist yet). And I’m not even going to touch on the money/class/yoga is only for rich people/peace is only for the superrich reading of this penthouse apartment. There is a difference between an erotic, sexy female body and a sexualized female body, especially when it’s being used to sell something.
... yeah... I'm not getting that message. If I did, then almost photo of a woman is sexualized, every sonnet about the shape of a woman's nape a veritable orgy of objectified sexualization, etc.

Is it objectifying perhaps, but sexualized? I didn't see it. However, perhaps this is something that offends a goodly amount of people who do yoga in the United States. Perhaps, too, it offends, people who do yoga in India.

Perhaps, too, it might fall ire to the lawsuit that is going on in India presently; the one trying to limit what's going on Facebook and Google's content? (Perhaps, too, the idea that a female American is making the above criticism of a sublime practice of meditation - chiefly among Indian males - will make such voicings themselves insulting to some...)

What I'm getting at is that - if the Indian court case ends up siding against Google and Facebook - the Internet is going to get even more loud, or lose all its subcontinent voices.

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