Over-sexualization and an Argument for Bikinis

marilynbeachI recently heard an argument for wearing bikinis that seemed quite strong and in alignment with most of the other strong pro-bikini arguments I’ve heard. These arguments usually hinge on the idea that girls need to be taught self-confidence, develop healthy body image, and that wearing a bikinis aids in accomplishing these goals.

This idea is often supported by three key points:

  1. The culture has over-sexualized the female body and we need to not give into that, but rather change it
  2. Guys should be taught how not to objectify women rather than girls taught to cover themselves
  3. Wearing bikinis teaches girls self-confidence

While I respect the diligence and thought that was put into this argument, let me please address these points.

1. We should not give into a culture that over-sexualizes the female body!

I wholeheartedly agree with this! Over-sexualization in the western world has run rampant and caused many crimes against women and men! We need to take a stand against such a force in our society and be the start of change!

However, I don’t see how wearing bikinis does that.

old swimsuit

via Blue Bird Vintage

If anyone does their homework on the history of swimwear, the introduction of bikinis aligns with the third wave of feminism – when women began using their sexuality as a way to control men (not the desired type of control sought out by the first or second wave of feminism). The creator of the bikini couldn’t get a model to wear it, so he had to hire a stripper to model it for the first time. (Video Source)

Now, some would say, “Well, everything used to be more conservative than it is now.” That may be somewhat true, but other less conservative things, such as sexual immorality, have always been rampant – that is not a “liberation” that has grown less conservative overtime; rather, it’s something that has ebbed and flowed over time. Even when it was considered taboo to make sexual indiscretions, it was still happening as private sins.

Social acceptance of wearing the equivalent of a bra and panties – sometimes less – is not something that has ebbed and flowed over time. It is something directly related to western sexualization, sexual feminism, and, for the first time ever on such a level, women sexualizing themselves. 

You see, I believe there used to be an innate sense of modesty in all women, until the fear of being singled out by not wearing a bikini set in. Until the desire to be desired took over. Until the vanity of having a sexualized body took over.

2. Guys should be taught to not treat girls as objects.

I hate that so many men do this simply because that’s how it is and they honestly know no difference! To me, the crime is that no one has taught them there is another way to think of women, more so than the fact that they do this – viewing women as objects.

What surprises me about this point in these arguments is that saying girls should be able to wear bikinis seems to directly conflict with this belief.

Wearing minimal clothing on an already over-sexualized body, is basically us women, all on our own, teaching guys to objectify women. It is in direct opposition to the belief that we should be teaching men to view women as people.

Further, this point also leads into the common idea that girls should be able to wear whatever they want because men need to learn self-control.

I would say that men who already struggle with self-control are not helped by women flaunting their bodies at them. Drug addicts don’t learn to avoid drugs by constantly be subject to drugs. 

3. Wearing bikinis teaches girls self-confidence.

via Rey Swimwear

via Rey Swimwear

This one I can’t even say I agree with a little. Some girls who wear bikinis may be wearing them because they are confident in their body. But for these few women, it’s because they are already confident, not because it makes them confident. And confident women do not need to show off their body to feel good about themselves.

Girls showing off their body from a young age only teaches them to be confident of one body type, ashamed of any other body type, and constantly envious of that “ideal” body type. It also allows them to assume that objectifying themselves is somehow the fault of males everywhere – blame shifting. There are also many girls who wear bikinis because of insecurity in order to get attention.

I had resolved to never voice my opinion on bikinis, unless asked. And I don’t judge those who wear bikinis because they honestly think it’s the only option and innocent because they haven’t been told otherwise.

But now that I teach and work with teenage girls regularly, and now that I’m married, my passion for the showing off or covering of the female body has grown more passionate.

From the perspective of a teacher, how dare you teach my students twisted truths about their bodies, their worth, and about men?

From the perspective of a fellow woman, how dare you self-righteously point the finger to anyone but yourself?

From the perspective of a wife, how dare you show your body to my husband when not only should he only have to see me, but also should you be saving that sight only for yours?

6 thoughts on “Over-sexualization and an Argument for Bikinis

  1. kyotoredbird says:

    I totally disagree with your second point. I get tired of women’s bodies and how men view them being compared to alcohol to alcoholics, food to someone on a diet, or drugs to drug addicts. Alcohol, food, and drugs are things to be used, consumed. The female body is not. The female body is not a thing for use. It belongs to no one other than the woman occupying it. The female body is normal, natural, and not inherently harmful. It is not a sexual object to be hidden. We need to desensitize our sex-obsessed culture to the female body if we want to end objectification (covering up has never prevented men from objectifying). We objectify normal human bodies so much that we find breastfeeding vulgar! Men are not sex-starved beasts incapable of seeing women as people when those women are wearing anything less than Mennonite-approved dress. Some of the most egalitarian cultures in the world are those Amazonian cultures where everyone runs around practically naked. Some of the most unequal cultures in the world are those where women are made to cover from head to toe. Objectification of women goes so far beyond clothing choices and has much more to do with a cultural mindset. I will wear a bikini if I want because my body belong to me and me alone. and no one has a right to view me as anything less than a person just because my navel happens to be visible.

    • annasadlerblog says:

      Just another quick thought to add… I agree that the female body is not meant to be an object for consumption, but I was trying to get at how the abuse of alcohol is what perverts it, not that alcohol itself is inherently wrong. Women’s bodies are not inherently wrong, but they have been objectified by the culture; so the abuse of that perception has to be acknowledged and dealt with. I agree that women’s bodies shouldn’t be objectified, but I’m not fully convinced that giving in to what has created a scenario of objectification is the fix. And if we were loving in the Amazon, I wouldn’t be writing this post because everything changes based on culture

    • Nancy says:

      I read your reply with great thought Kyoto. As I am a woman on the other age of the spectrum I agree with much of what you share in your comment. As you mention cultures you are right on. An example; I have friends who visited an area in the Congo to assist them with the pain they have suffered through war and at the hands of men. I have heard the stories and they are documented. With no bikini wearing in their culture women are beaten, gang raped, mutilated, and many physical scarred for life. With this as we know comes much emotional pain and scars.

      Whether women are in bikinis or as you mention approved Mennonite dress, evil is evil and exists in our society in the U.S.A. today. This is a tough topic to address in today’s world and I give a shout out to Anna for her willingness to take on this topic. You are one courageous woman and sister in Christ Anna. Part of being a blogger is writing our view and allowing others to dialogue with us!

  2. alyssapickett2 says:

    That’s what I wanted to say Anna! Plus, the problem isn’t just showing off belly buttons, but breasts and butts as well. Woman are wearing lingerie to the pool basically with no secrets… Breasts and butts are both considered sex objects and culture has made it that way and it’s been like that since we can remember. But just because women show it off doesn’t mean they are “desensitizing” anyone from seeing their body as anything but an object. I mean, honestly, can you see a future where a guy doesn’t check you out because of what you are wearing? NO! Because it has been like this for so long! And since it’s been like this for so long, not only is the female body being objectified, but so are men’s bodies. I mean, on a daily basis I see Instagram pics on man crush monday with topless guys everywhere…. It’s not like girls put that up because they think they have a nice personality.

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