By: Elizabeth Angsioco
Published in Manila Standard Today
Dated October 16, 2010
Just a day or so after the news that Maria Ressa resigned from ABS-CBN broke, she again surprised the public for being named by Esquire Magazine as the sexiest Filipina alive today. The latter interests me. Admittedly, I was half-expecting some to raise eyebrows and say, “Maria Ressa? Sexy?” but all I heard were people exclaimng “Wow!” Perhaps Maria is so well-liked, or we are now redefining what a sexy woman is, or both. This piece is not about Maria, this is about being sexy.
Dictionary.com defines sexy as: concerned predominantly or excessively with sex; excitingly appealing; and being erotically attractive. Sexy’s synonyms are: sensual, seductive, flirtatious, hot, libidinous, provocative, and arousing. Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus gives the following additional meanings: risqué; racy; and verging on impropriety or indecency.
The root word of sexy is, of course, sex. We use the word to describe someone attractive enough to have sex with. We usually mean it as a compliment but since sex remains significantly taboo in our country, the word also takes on a negative meaning, as in lewd, obscene, and vulgar. These make sexy a complex word—it is both positive and negative.
For women, being sexy is almost exclusively dependent on our physical attributes like big boobs, shapely legs, silky smooth white skin, and a small waist. Sexy is used to describe young women to the exclusion of older ones. We like seeing young women strutting down the streets in plunging necklines, body-hugging mini-skirts and high-heeled shoes but cringe when older ones do the same.
For men, sexy takes a more multi-dimensional meaning. Other than physical characteristics such as a muscular body, things like strong character, power, money, position and intelligence also make men sexy. This is why even an ugly man, as long as he is prominent, can still afford to have a sexy girlfriend.
Being sexy is a plus factor for both women and men but the bases for being considered one are different.
Another difference lies in who is expected to be sexy. The “ideal” woman is not only loving and understanding, she also satisfies her man’s sexual desires. Believing that our role is to please men, we try very hard to adhere to this ideal image and yield to the “pressure” of being sexy more than men do.
Ever wondered why billion-dollar industries involved in the sexy business like fashion, make-up, and skin whitening, age-defying and wrinkle-preventing face products proliferate? Why, even the medical profession is cashing in on breast implants and bust lifts, liposuction, nose and face lifts? All these target women so we can become what society wants us to be. Some even jokingly say that with technology, women have no more excuse for being ugly. Yes, the stereotype of women as sex objects is as strong as ever.
Woe to the women who do not have the physical characteristics, are without means to acquire these attributes, or simply refuse to adhere to the stereotype. They are generally considered less desirable and consequently—less of a woman. They are not sought after, and the opportunities open to sexy women are not available to them.
The sexy stereotype makes society regard women superficially. We are judged by the way we look. Physical beauty becomes our primary defining characteristic and other equally or even more important traits and capabilities are ignored. Often, sexy women are not expected to have a mind of their own. Finding a sexy AND smart woman surprises some. Measuring women based solely on looks immediately limits people’s appreciation of us as persons equally capable of doing and achieving things as well as others.
Thus, I welcome the Esquire magazine’s List of Sexiest Women Alive. The bases for inclusion of the honored women defy the stereotype of being sexy. The magazine chose women with exemplary characteristics, who exhibit strength, or achieve extraordinary things.
Esquire’s list redefines sexy and challenges looking at women purely from a sexual viewpoint. The list asserts that being smart and daring is sexy. Having a strong character is sexy. Being an achiever is sexy. In short, a woman who is her own person is the NEW sexy.
Using these, we, who do not possess movie star-like qualities, can also be sexy. I did my sexiest list and it includes the following:
- Maria Ressa (again!)—Years ago, upon learning that she was planning to quit CNN and practice her craft here, we quizzed her why, when she was already in a good place professionally. She said, ‘I want to give back.’ And she did. For having the principles and the heart, Maria is sexy.
- Dr. Esperanza Cabral—The epitome of a public servant. She stood up for the reproductive health cause while serving in an anti-RH administration. Her advocacy lradership gave voice to the silent majority. For her political will at a most crucial time, Sec Espie is sexy.
- Gilda Cordero-Fernando—Great writer, painter, trailblazer. Her love of country and things Filipino is hard to match. She continues to evolve and never loses her sense of fun. Truly, she has shown that a woman can achieve whatever she sets out to achieve. For always going after what she wants and excelling, Gilda is sexy.
- Winnie Monsod—When she speaks, everyone listens. She is not known for tact but she tells the truth no matter if it hurts. I know no one who does not respect her. For being intelligent, credible and earning people’s respect, Winnie is sexy.
- Gang Badoy—Gang achieves a lthousand things in one go—without fanfare. She helps young people understand current issues using their language, music and art.; reaches remote places to distribute books; conducts classes in prison, and still have fun. Gang’s spirit for others makes her sexy.
- Adoracion dela Pena—Dory represents the thousands of unknown community leaders who, despite their own poverty, have spent decades working so other women’s lives become better. For being selfless and making a difference in their communities, women like Dory are sexy!
Cheers to all you sexy women out there!