From Kim Kardashian To Sydney Sweeney, Why Can Women Never Live Down Their Sexualisation?


Last week, a whole debate erupted on the internet about Cassie Howard’s (Sydney Sweeney) excessive sex scenes in season 2 of the popular series Euphoria. The young actor faced her fair share of cyberbullying because of her bold portrayal. Although, Cal (EircDane) – the paedophile patriarch in the show spent half of his screen time in the last episode with his genitalia exposed, ironically (or not) the only thing being talked about him is his unhinged monologue. Sydney on the other hand – has been carrying the weight of the show with her anxiety-inducing performance as the teenage girl obsessed with our resident problematic boy, Nate Jacobs (Jacob Eloradi). Sydney’s portrayal of an insecure girl in love is so convincing that she even made something as soothing as self-care look disturbing by scrubbing herself raw and face-masking at 4 am. Addressing the stigma around women having sex on screen, Sydney retaliated by saying, “When a guy has a sex scene or shows his body, he still wins awards and gets praise. But the moment a girl does it, it’s completely different. I’m very proud of my work in Euphoria. I thought it was a great performance. But no one talks about it because I got naked.”


Sex And The Stale Story

According to society, women can either be talented and successful or sexual (on and off-screen) – the idea that females can do all that and more is still appalling to many, hence the labelling. Recently, Kim Kardashian was in the news for 2 reasons – firstly, her shapewear label, Skims doubled its valuation to $3.2 billion and secondly, her scorned ex-husband Kanye West brought her name in an interview with regards to a second sex tape. Take a wild guess, as to which piece of news was picked more by the media and gossiped about by the audience – yes, your guess is absolutely right. Kim Kardashian – a beauty mogul, a fashion icon, a reality tv star and a to-be lawyer working tirelessly on prison reform – and yet, she can never outlive the sex tape fiasco from 2007. 


50 Shades Of Hypocrisy

Even in the 50 shades movie franchise, despite being written by a woman and from the female gaze – Dakota Johnson inevitably became the public punching bag in that unequal sexual dynamic. Years later, the topic of her partial nudity and whether or not her parents have watched the movie is still a subject of chatter in her interviews. On the contrary, 365 Days famed Michele Morrone got crowned as the sexual demi-god despite his predatory, toxic and troublesome career trajectory. Women can be fetishised, but the moment they own their sexuality and no longer take dictations on how much is too much, the world is armed and ready to outcast them.


How Much Is Too Much?

In 2016, Alankrita Shrivastava’s film Lipstick Under My Burkha; initially faced a ban from the censor board for the very reason it was trying to highlight. The movie showcased 4 small-town women of all ages in a sex-positive way – it was booted for being ‘too sexual’, while simultaneously series and films that projected violence against women and men being exploitative continued to get the green light. The movie did see the light of the day after 6 months of battle, but it shouldn’t have been faced with issues like this in the first place. It doesn’t stop there – actors who take on the mantle of depicting these roles are then trolled and perceived as their reel life version in their real life.


Moral Policing Be Damned

From Ahana Kumar in Lipstick Under My Burkha to Swara Bhaskar in Veere Di Wedding – both women faced the misplaced wrath of playing sexually active characters. In spite of giving some breakthrough performances, the ladies have their Instagram and Twitter comment sections filled with filth. Bringing back to our original question: How does it always circle back to sex? For women, there’s no way to win – unless they quietly follow the invisible handbook that permits them to be bold but shy, sexual but behind closed doors and ambitious but not too aspiring.

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- Junior Digital Editor


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