Saturday, November 14, 2009

Facing Reflections

We live in a sexualized world. The entertainment industry, even having been noted as recession-proof, has found consumers tightening their belts and holding off on certain luxuries that would otherwise be adhered to with the utmost flippancy. Conversely, Victoria's Secret has posted an increased profit both in the final quarter of the year, and the fiscal year as a whole. Historically, in 1971, Jovan Musk Oil Inc. utilized sex appeal as an advertising scheme for the first time. The resulting revenue went from $1.5 million in '71 to $77 million in '78. That's a $75.5 million gap bridged in 7 years.

"Sexy" is an adjective used to refer to a positive characteristic of an object or person. Dietary companies use "sexy" as a term to define the positive improvement of a person simply by physical appearance. We pay models not for their intelligence or keenness of character but rather by their mass sexual appeal. No matter how we pay, and no matter how much we deny it, it is true that sex sells. Perhaps it's the titillation that drives the dollar, earning everyone more "bang" for every buck.

Regardless of how it works or who looks at it, sex is a driving force in not just a global society, but even a personal one. And I freely admit that I am a pervert. It's not a hard thing to objectify the opposite sex. Anyone with a pair of eyes knows that it's socially acceptable to sexually expect men to have big muscles and women to have tiny waists. It's a resulting process of years of subtle personality shifting that affects people in ways most of us don't have enough years of research to understand.

However, the result is clear. There's an expectation for people to have certain hang-ups, and a sense of condemnation for those that don't. It could be society, monogamy is in, casual sex is out. For women to pursue lives of sexual experience isn't a mark of research, but one of poor character even in the best of cases. For men, it's often excusable, but only in the right company. Which may or may not be a fair title, as I'm not one to judge, but I do often find myself questioning my own appearance in the mirror.

A friend once defined my human existence as "I flirt, therefore I am." It's true, I'm a flirt. I find that there's no shortage of features on any one person (though biased as I am, they are primarily female) that merit compliments. I enjoy it, and very rarely have I found people to dislike it in reply. It's pretty easy to get compliments, and it feels good. Perhaps that's why I do it.

Either way, there's a meticulously thin line between being compliment-filled, and being sexist, and I'm not entirely sure where I stand on that line. Maybe I should just get a grip and assume that because I never get red-flagged then I'm not crossing any lines. But I'm unconvinced...