There’s no question that sexual promotion is on the rise in today’s society. With the praise of platforms like OnlyFans and honored celebrities like Cardi B, we’re glorifying getting intimate on the internet, encouraging it, and cheering it on as sexual freedom.
While I believe every individual should have the ability to express his or her self however they choose, that’s exactly it...it’s a choice. And with every choice also follows a consequence, positive or negative.
Which is why it’s of crucial importance to become curious, ask deeper questions, and be intentional about our influence. Each individual decision made casts a pebble into the waters of society, creating waves that seep down into our upcoming generation. Being extra conscientious of the intentions motivating our decisions, as well as owning our part behind them, will set us all up for a brighter future.
One powerful question to be asking today is: Is the trajectory of modern-day “women’s empowerment” really about sexual freedom, or is it about luring women into sexual exploitation?
Maternal Imprinting and Protecting the Youth
Since the beginning of time, women have been seen as the innate caretakers and nurturers of the world. Whether you’re a mother or not, there’s an underlying quality that places you, as a woman, at the top of the pyramid when it comes to imprinting upon children. This social responsibility is a powerful one, and while some may view it as a burden, I prefer to see it as a blessing.
Think about it this way. Just by your mere presence, you can empower an entire future generation – teaching young girls how to respect themselves and their bodies, demonstrating to young boys how to do the same in addition to how to view and respect girls. That’s a beautiful contribution!
Women possess an underlying quality that places them at the top when it comes to imprinting upon children.
Yet, if we as grown women are trading nude images for pennies on OnlyFans and posting lingerie shoots consisting of sexual poses typically reserved for the bedroom all over the internet as the ultimate medium to accomplish “sexual liberation,” what are we truly exemplifying?
Being adult women, we can make these decisions for ourselves with a full spectrum of awareness; however, we’re positioning vulnerable children into dark realities. NPR has reported that an alarming 53% of children in the United States own a smartphone by the age of 11 and that quickly climbs to 84% by the teenage years. With at-your-fingertips access to the internet, mature content can be easily found and devoured by young minds.
To add, cognitive development (the ushering in of a child’s ability to think and reason) is in full force during these years too. The majority of this cognitive growth happens from ages 6-12, leading into the highly impressionable years of 12-24. Not to mention the observational learning phase, also known as “imitating,” that happens as early as 6 months to 2 years of age.
Children aren’t just being exposed to mature content, trying to decipher and digest it – they’re taking it on as a framework of how to behave and act in society. While there are parental controls and protections that can be implemented, it’s rare that children aren’t capable of finding easy ways around them, especially in a society that relies heavily on technology and teaches children to become savvy with it early on.
Going through puberty doesn’t mean kids are ready for the magnitude of using their bodies sexually.
Just like there are age limits for drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes to protect the development of children, sexual exposure should follow a similar protocol. These impressionable years of innocence are when children and teens are learning about their bodies most. Transforming through puberty and learning how to be comfortable within their own skin doesn’t mean that they’re ready for the magnitude of using their bodies sexually and the consequences that could bring. If we as adults are on-screen, emitting a message of “sexual liberation,” we could very easily be influencing a problematic contrast for children – including, but not limited to, shared nude images without consent, an increase of predatory situations, STDs, and early pregnancy.
With possession of natural maternal instincts, this should be sounding off alarms of concern and a desire to protect our youth to the best of our ability, by first leading by example and reserving sexual intimacy for off the screen.
WAP, the “Epitome of Women’s Empowerment”
If you’re not familiar with “WAP,” it's the billboard topping song performed by artist Cardi B standing for “wet ass pussy.” If you google “Is WAP female empowerment?” the response you’ll receive is “WAP is the epitome of female empowerment. The song and video were an immediate success. The music video itself racked up over 26 million views in its first 24 hours on YouTube, making it the biggest debut for an all-female collaboration on the platform.”
While there are many articles in support and opposition to this viewpoint, one thing rings clearly evident to me – we’re basing “women’s empowerment” on status symbols such as views and downloads, instead of focusing on the messaging. If you look up the lyrics to this song, you’ll understand where the concern derives from.
Cardi B herself even admits she won’t allow her own daughter, Kulture, to listen to it. Instagram followers of Cardi’s (take a scroll through her account to see the amount of mature content readily available) caught this moment in real-time when the artist was singing along to “WAP” – until she saw her young daughter appear behind her on the screen, causing the singer to immediately stop. As expected, this raised lots of questions from viewers who are standing guard over their own children’s media, infuriated by what’s being produced by the entertainment industry.
Cardi B herself admits she won’t allow her own daughter, Kulture, to listen to “WAP.”
Cardi’s response? “Ya needs to stop with this already! I’m not jojosiwa! I don’t make music for kids, I make music for adults. Parents are responsible (for) what their children listen to or see. I’m a very sexual person but not around my child just like every other parent should be.” [sic]
“There’s moms who are strippers,” she adds. “Pop pussy, twerk all night for entertainment does that mean they do it around their kids? No! Stop makin this a debate. It’s pretty much common sense.”
While it’s valid that Cardi is intending her work to fall onto the ears and eyes of adults, that’s just simply not the case. For as easily as her own daughter was exposed within seconds, so are many others. It should be an honorable duty for artists to set the tone and to uphold the integrity of our music industry, the backbone of our culture.
Simply put, if adults can’t explain how mature content discoverable by children is contributing to women’s empowerment...then it probably isn’t.
“Stop Objectifying My Body.”
The most perplexing argument for “sexual liberation” is this one. I agree, women should not have their bodies objectified and they should be absolutely proud, confident, and in love with their bodies – including their sexuality. I stand behind that.
What I don’t understand or support is in an effort to make this point we then objectify ourselves, circling back to OnlyFans and intimacy on the internet, with the “my body, my choice” stance?
As mentioned above, self-expression is a choice and a freedom that can also come with severe consequences (a leading example can be found here of marketing agencies pimping models and influencers). I’ll forever believe the ultimate power move any woman holds is having full control of who has access to her, which is nearly impossible with the wildfires of the internet.
Objectifying ourselves to stop others from objectifying us doesn’t stop the objectification.
I’ve seen it argued before that women are rising into this era of sexual promotion in an attempt to “smash the patriarchy.” Tired of a long history of men imposing their sexual desires upon them and “controlling” their bodies, women are outraged and armed to fight back.
While I understand this side and am not saying these situations don’t exist or haven’t existed, I wonder if this is the best effort to be made in retaliation? How does objectifying ourselves to stop others from objectifying us stop the objectification that we originally objected to? It’s like advocating to stop theft by handing our valuables over to robbers of our own free will. That’s not controlling the offense or finding a solution; that’s just participating with permission, resulting in the same outcome. It seems we’re committed to throwing gasoline on a fire as opposed to extinguishing it once and for all.
I think back throughout my own life, and even on a personal level, anytime I’ve reacted out of anger, ego, or revenge, I hardly ever found peace, just more problems. As an empowered woman, I have no desire to “smash” anything or anyone in an attempt to prove my power anymore. There are ways to put these social issues to rest with elegance, grace, and class that don’t have to go to the extreme, ego-based measures of seeking revenge at the expense of our self-image.
Yes, women should honor, love, and feel sexy within their bodies and that can be demonstrated through respectful behaviors our daughters can be proud of. That’s the lovely, beautiful quality of feminine energy – it’s infused with empathy, gentleness, strength, and creativity that can be used to a stunning advantage instead of heartbreaking warfare.
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