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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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