Media blurs the line between empowerment and sexualization


One of my favorite childhood memories included sitting in my brother’s room and getting completely destroyed in a round of Mortal Kombat. Obviously, losing isn’t what made it special, but the action and gore in the videogame made it entertaining. I absolutely cherished the game because it helped form my love for videogames, but there has always been something about the game that really irked me.

Whether you played Mortal Kombat or not, you may have at least seen a picture of the characters at your local pizza place in the arcade section. The women have incredibly defined, large breasts and a little outfit that teases the “private parts.”

Mortal Kombat is just one of the many games that considerably and continually exploits and sexualizes the female body. Look at Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider games: before she got revamped in 2015 to wearing more comfortable clothing, the character still ran around in a little tank top and shorts while scaling the sides of mountains and fighting off wolves.

There is a bit more control in what is being released in the videogame world now as many developers have become more progressive and have caught onto the indecency of hypersexualizing gender; but it doesn’t stop there.

Turn on the television and go to the nearest channel that fits in the realm of pop culture. What do you see? Chances are that you may run into a few instances of women being overtly sexualized and fitting into some type of women stereotypes.

Over the past two years or so, there has been a new wave of self-acceptance and an increase of intolerance for fat-shaming, skinny-shaming or just about any type of negativity towards one’s body.

This intolerance is great; it could help younger generations feel more accepted and hopefully stimulate a decrease of self-hatred and bullying that has been going on for too long.

Going onto Twitter or even Youtube will show some examples of internet trolls, but a large portion of people are being supportive  of what a woman is wearing, especially if it is quite revealing.

What starts to become questionable is when sexualizing a body becomes okay.

Media in the United States has played a helping hand in training society to find “private parts” to be a scandalous topic, and women have had to conform to wearing conservative clothing in the past.

Recently within the body-positive movement, there has been another movement in finding empowerment in showing off women’s bodies.

You can hop onto Nicki Minaj’s or Kim Kardashian’s Instagram feed and see fans giving them props for wearing whatever they choose.

Where is the line that separates admiration of a human body and exploitation, and who determines that?

What if the creators of Mortal Kombat happened to be women and made the decision to have the female characters wear revealing outfits?

I don’t think women need to conform to a set standard of clothing, but it almost seems like a double standard. It’s empowered sexualization versus unwanted sexualization, but the line is blurry.