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We live in a world where pretty well everything possible is sexualized. In fact, in 2009 a SUNY Albany psychology professor revealed that 92% of the 174 songs that cracked the Billboard Top 10 that year contained sexually suggestive lyrics.

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Why is this the case? Because sex sells! We may not want to publicly admit it, but I’m sure even the featured image on this article played a role in bringing you to reading this sentence.

I’m certainly not going to claim that sex by its nature is a bad thing that should be condemned, because that is obviously untrue, but I am stunned by how prevalent it is in our society and how much of a role it plays in our daily lives.

While both genders are subject to objectification in our culture, women are undeniably the victims of this oppression far more often than men. We may have come leaps and bounds, in most parts of the world, from the inequality and oppression that once was openly accepted, but we still have a ways to go if we truly want to move past the lingering male entitlement which still imbues our society.

I’d like to share with all of you a series of photographs titled “Boundaries” by photographer Allaire Bartel. In this series, the same woman is shown in a variety of common settings with male arms subjecting her to a portion of what far too many minds are automatically inclined to be thinking or desiring to do. While some of the actions may seem a bit extreme, what they represent certainly reflect aspects of society on which we still need to improve.

The primary intention behind the photo series is to depict the oppression that results from male entitlement, and to bring to light some of the objectification that women face on a daily basis. The photographer elaborates on this through her website:

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I was particularly determined to express the idea that oppression of women does not just occur in extreme isolated incidents (violent rape and physical abuse) but can also be felt in lesser forms during the day to day.

In this series you will see one woman, an average young professional, depicted in routine daily situations. The concept of male entitlement is represented by male arms and hands performing a variety of actions that are overwhelming intrusive on her body and her life. In each situation she maintains a blank expression, a visual choice that demonstrates how conditioned we as women have become to accept this atmosphere as excusable and even normal.

As I mentioned before, objectification is certainly not gender specific, but it is far more prevalent for women than it is for men. We may not think this issue significant, but would you feel differently if it impacted all of us the same way? To test this, check out another series of photos that explore a world where the advertising industry exploits men as much as it does women and see how it makes you feel.

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What are your thoughts on these photos? Do you feel that they accurately reflect an issue that we all need to address? Or do you find them too extreme? Let us know via the comment section below.


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