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The infantilization of women: A rant.

Updated: Dec 1, 2023


The infantilization of women has been a topic of conversation for some time now. This problem is accentuated in the South Asian context. The dominant culture projects an image which deems “childlike” characteristics desirable in women. While this isn’t very evident, if you delve deeper, the overemphasis on women having to be polite, the overprotective trope that exists, having a mellow tone and demeanor, having no body hair, taking up limited amount of space – in comparison to “man spreading” – all point towards the same thing: the idolization and mirroring of childlike sensuality and innocence.


An aspect that I’ve never truly understood is that of a woman’s physical appearance – it’s inherently contradictory. Features biologically associated to fertility and thus “womanhood” in a very traditional sense such as the emergence of breasts are deemed as desirable but the emergence of body hair as a woman hits puberty is deemed as “gross”. Pick a side.

Regarding characteristics, in a very holistic sense, it’s great that things have been made very clear – there is a clear inclination towards childlike features and thankfully, the new trend towards unrealistically skinny girls has also put a halt to my confusions.

What’s even greater is the glamorization of pedophilic relationships. Assuredly, desirability and thus expectations are derived from a heterosexual male’s ideals consequentially deeming infantilization a product of two things: the said male’s ideals and the internalization of them. The nicknames are also hilarious, terms such as

‘silver fox’ and ‘DILF’ are far more glamorized than those assigned to women and to make sure the table balances out, younger girls are sexualized instead. While 40-year-old men give each other pats on the back for “scoring” a 20 odd girl, the Kardashian clan is talking about putting anti-aging products in their teen girls’ regimes.


Is it actually ironic or simply predictable that the most popular searches on porn sites are “teens” and “freshly 18” in an era where retinol is being used at 19 and there exists a waxing auntie in every neighborhood; where school girl outfits are fetishized and being muscular isn’t considered “feminine” enough.

If we talk about the specifics, the need for the lack of body hair in women is something I could never wrap my head around. If the hygiene debate were to be valid, then it would simultaneously apply to men. And let’s be real here, hygiene is not tied to body hair. Why is it that if a girl were to walk out with legs full of hair, people would be uncomfortable with the sight. May it be shaving or waxing, it’s been ingrained in us from a young age and has become a monthly, if not weekly, ritual. Biologically, body hair is a mammalian feature and is in fact healthy.


Nonetheless, this plethora of experiences has tied us all to the same fate: succumbing to suppressive norms that just don’t make any sense.


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12 Comments


Annum Shehryar
Annum Shehryar
Dec 01, 2023

Very informative post! Your insight on how women are infantilised to suit the male gaze and for men to project their pedophilic fantasies onto them reminded me of this ad called "Bubblelicious", where a photoshoot took place of a grown woman lying in bed like a toddler, blowing a bubblegum that resembled a dummy for babies. She was wearing a white frock with light-colored stockings and looked into the camera with an innocent expression. These reductions of women into childlike dispositions unveils the dark and disturbing fantasies of men who view women as child-like beings rather than grown adults

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Thank youu!! and the example you've mentioned is such a good example of how this is literally all around us but we fail to notice it. About your second point, even if the fantasies aren't dark and disturbing, I personally think it's just a sad concept because essentially, as a woman what you're doing to yourself is going backwards instead of forward

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Mariam
Mariam
Dec 01, 2023

I really appreciate how you've addressed how seemingly innocuous cultural norms and expectations, such as the emphasis on politeness, a mellow demeanor, and hairlessness, contribute to a broader narrative that deems women as childlike and innocent beings.

The contradictory nature of women's physical appearance is particularly strikingand the simultaneous glorification of features associated with fertility while deeming natural bodily changes like body hair "gross" is very telling of the blatant yet underlying hypocrisy and the arbitrary standards imposed upon women.

I've always been flabbergasted by the disturbing trend of glamorizing pedophilic relationships through age-related terminology like "silver fox" and "DILF" for older men. This normalization of predatory behavior, coupled with the sexualization of young girls, reveals a deeply problematic societal…

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It's actually insane to me how much these relationships are glamorized. I think its something that even you talked about during your presentation on Euphoria. Plus, what's more insane to me is how openly people talk about these things while thinking that jokes don't hurt. Like the comment you mentioned, while the person probably thought that what hes saying is harmless, it really is not. Creating a culture where this phenomenon is normalized is one of the worst things we can do for the dynamic that exists.

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I've actually thought aboout this very topic before and as youve said i too have never completely understood why the lack of body hair in womenis desirable because its a sign of fertility and coming of age, to me it just points towards a breeding ground for pedophilia in the male gaze as well as acquiring a sense of power and corrupting a ''pure'' individual

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I genuinely do think it has a lot to do with "baby skin" specially since a lot of people describe it as "smooth, soft" skin which is genuinely something that would describe a child's skin. It's the same way in many cultures, women are made to wear shoes that keep their feet small for life. They're all genuinely pointing towards the same thing.


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One of the most interesting blogs I have read yet! I really like how you have argued for the need to do away with the sexualization of young girls as well as the ways in which women are infantilized. Adding on to your point about the disgust and repulsion felt towards women's or even young girls' "legs full of hair", it is also important to note that this desire for "satin smooth skin" (as exemplified in the Neet cream hair remover poster you have added) came with the advent of colonialism in India. Likewise, the desirability of 'light or fair skin' is also a product of colonialism that has been internalized by us to such an extent that we have…


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I really like the connection you've drawn to colonization and that is definitely something that I've thought about and also agree with. It's about the globalization of beauty and let's be honest, even globalization is simply put, the passive spread of colonization. As for the suppressive norms that you've mentioned in your query, I personally think it's stemming from the power structures and keeping those power structures in place. Just as the "white, smooth skin" was a product of a power structure in place, this particular power structure pertains to that between a man and a woman. The inherent concept of infantilization stems from the belittling of women in such a literal yet subtle sense to stabilize the status quo…

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Neiha A. Siddiqui
Neiha A. Siddiqui
Nov 30, 2023

Another trend I find bizarre is the notion of younger women are increasingly getting Botox, which also begs concerns about self-perception and cultural standards of beauty. Some contend that it gives people more freedom to choose how they want to look, while others voice worries about the possible normalization of invasive treatments at a young age. I find the fact that women are getting these procedures quite powerful but when I see girls as young as 16 getting them, it raises a lot of concerns for me. Especially when celebrities promote it, I understand the empowerment in doing as you please with your bodies but what about the moral implications behind it all? One must closely note where this DESIRE…

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I personally think that more then the act itself and judging whether thats empowering or concerning, we should maybe look at why these things are happening and what the reason is behind women wanting to get invasive surgeries that are making them look younger or different - as you've mentioned as well. For me, the rest is irrelevant. Whether it's empowering or concerning comes after the decision has already been made and the process leading up to it holds more weightage in my eyes.

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