In a recent post on body image, I pointed out that girls growing up in our culture are trained not to understand themselves as whole human beings but rather, “are socialized to identity as sexual objects which exist for the pleasure of others.”

By “others,” I mean men. Because we live in a patriarchy, wherein men are the dominant class whose needs and desires come first, and wherein women are the sex class whose needs and desires don’t matter because who fucking cares just show us your tits already.

The objectification of female bodies for the titillation of men is all around us, all the time — normalized to the point that the male gaze proliferates throughout politics, Hollywood movies, music and pretty much every other aspect of our culture.

Truly, we’re all swimming in it.

Poking around the Internet as one does, I came across this ad, which is a great example of the phenomenon:

Femme-Factor-surprise-your-boyfriend-with-a-new-body

“Surprise Your Boyfriend With a New Body” it proclaims. (Obviously, whatever body you have right now is insufficient.)

SURPRISE, HONEY! I GOT YOU A VISIBLE RIB CAGE AND SOME ABS AND PERKY TITS FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY! HOPE YOU LIKE THEM!

Remember, ladies, your body is not yours to do with as you please. It’s for your boyfriend (SORRY LESBIANS), to be given to him to do with as HE pleases, a present just like a power drill or a case of beer or a subscription to Maxim or any of the other things men like. At best, maybe he’ll let you enjoy it with him, as Sinead O’Connor so eloquently articulated recently when she asserted to Miley Cyrus in the Open Letter Seen Round The World that, “Your body is for you and your boyfriend.”

Accompanying this ad’s delightful caption (note: not actually delightful) is a picture of a young woman with, ostensibly, the type of body worthy of surprising one’s boyfriend.

She’s thin and white (SURPRISE!), and she’s facing the camera with a come-hither look in her eyes. Her body is glistening slightly — just enough to imply sweat without being actually sweaty because ew, gross — and she’s dressed in workout gear, which I assume is meant to suggest that she’s just come from the gym.

Several other details suggest otherwise, however.

For one, she’s sporting full eye make-up (indeed, I would go so far as to call it a ‘smoky eye’) with nary a smudge.

For another, she’s got a navel piercing involving some sort of hanging charm — because dangly jewelry is always a good idea when exercising.

And then there’s the fact that the ‘workout gear’ is the sexiest outfit possible: a tiny, spaghetti-strapped sports bra (GUESS WHAT COLOUR IT IS? DID YOU GUESS PINK?) and yoga pants that sit so low on her hips, it’s likely pubic-hair removal was required to pull off the end result.

The male gaze, ladies and gentleman. Sexualized objectification masquerading as health.

The ad continues by hinting at a “women’s health breakthrough” (where ‘women’s health’ is synonymous with ‘looking hot for your man’) and declaring: “Women can’t believe this new fitness secret.”

What’s the secret, you ask? The secret is Femme Factor, which I Googled so you wouldn’t have to. (You’re welcome.) It’s a line of fitness supplements that promises to burn fat, boost energy and get you fit — all for only $69.99 a bottle.

FYI: Femme Factor’s website (which you can look up if you really want to, though I don’t recommend it) features another young, fit, white, blonde, hairless, pink sports bra and low-rise yoga-pant-wearing woman whose appearance complies in every way with our culture’s idealized physical standard of beauty.

SURPRISE!