Women As Sex Symbols

Women As Sex Symbols

Jessica Rabbit is a cartoon. That is the first thought that enters my mind  as the woman on the screen in front of me parades around her husband while in a Jessica Rabbit costume.

The husband loses it. “Cover up!”

“But Jessica Rabbit is THE sex symbol”.

Really? I didn’t know that cartoons were capable of evoking sexual feelings in people. I never saw Jessica Rabbit as a sexual body. Sure she has a figure, a shape, but she is a “human toon”, a human species that has cartoonish capabilities. In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, she is married to the titular character and they have a happy, sexual relationship that humans usually have between them. She sings at a supper club, and, byall accounts, appears to be a woman with a woman’s shape. But what makes a woman a woman? What turns her into a sex symbol?

“I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way” ~Jessica Rabbit

Looking back at her trademark quote I find it to be ambiguous. Jessica Rabbit is aware she is a toon, she lives in Toon Town and is married to Roger Rabbit. However, her creator wants us to see her as a femme fatale, a temptress, a sex symbol because of the way she is created, the way she is drawn. Early on in the film we see her being exposed by a detective playing patty cake with a random stranger in her dressing room. Roger Rabbit sees the photos provided by the detective and his immediate reaction is to think she is cheating. When I was a child I thought actually that her playing patty cake with a stranger was her actually engaging in sex.

So is that what makes her a sex symbol, simply the way she is portrayed to the audience?

To me, cartoons are not attractive;over-sexualizing cartoons is not sexy. Over-sexualizing is something that is still very common, even in the 21st century. Jessica Rabbit’s character was created in the 80’s and the concept of her being portrayed as “sexy”that whole idea that she is sexy, to me, is preposterous to me. The viewer is led to believe she is sexy with her exaggerated long legs, pillowcases for breasts, low cleavage, sultry movements and pouty lips. But that’s not sexy, surely. In mass culture and media, the “sexy woman” archetype would be described as kitten-like, with a low voice and submissive wide eyes (think Marilyn Monroe or Betty Boop,another cartoon labeled a sex symbol). Portrayals like these are offensive to me, and, to some extent, to all women; we just haven’t consciously thought about it because we grew up with these cartoons and figures.

How is a sex symbol defined?

Sex symbol (noun): a person widely noted for their sexual attractiveness

Cartoons are not sexy. When someone creates a female cartoon, it implies that’s how we want to see women--as cartoons, sketches,drawings, and figures. I sayno. A sex symbol is a soul with a voice and the power to use it. Every woman that embodies that is a sex symbol to me, but if we are going to put a gender on it, here are my list of women, whom I consider sex symbols:

  1. Frida Kahlo

  2. Madonna

  3. Queen Latifah

  4. Jameela Jamil

  5. Jane Fonda

  6. Lena Headey

  7. Susan Sarandon

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