The infantilization of femininity

Zaynab Kouatli, Opinion Editor

{Trigger warning: Pedophilia}
I am Arab and I tend to deal with a lot of body hair. I have tried about every method of removal; I have had searing hot wax poured on my skin, suffered several shaving nicks, and endured a chemical burn from Nair. Why do I voluntarily put myself in an expensive and painful situation just to be unsatisfied with the aftermath two weeks later. The answer lies in how women’s physical appearance has long been debated and altered for the benefit of the patriarchal society and the male gaze.

The male gaze describes a way of portraying and looking at women, which empowers men while sexualizing women and fetishizing power. There are reason beauty standards are nearly impossible. The principals of femininity are not reflective of real adult woman and instead are mirroring how children look and behave.

Models are a perfect example of this phenomenon; they are expected to maintain a flat, skinny, and hairless body. Most models do not hold the attributes that everyday adult women have such as stretch marks or a stomach. There is an incredibly strange connection between childlike innocence and sensuality.

One of the indications that you are entering womanhood is hair growth. So, when society deems that body hair is “gross” and “not feminine” it makes womanhood seem undesirable and embraces girlhood. When relationships between young girls and older men are glamorized, it permits for the upholding of a patriarchal dynamic that invades into every aspect of our lives.

Isn’t a little weird that porn sites most popular categories are “teen” and “freshly 18”? School-girl uniforms are fetishized and serve as a reminder that there is a chunk of humanity that prefers school aged children for their sexual pleasure. We all fear aging and how can we not when the Kardashians tell us to put on anti-aging skincare in our teens. While men are praised for aging and given nick names like “silver fox”, woman are forced into preserving the look that pedophiles crave most.

The infantilization of femininity has been an existing problem for centuries. As a culture we must actively work to recognize principals rooted in pedophile and fight to dismantle the patriarchal society which rests on the male gaze. It is crucial we understand that femininity should never mimic a child.