The Unexamined Misogyny of the Term “Thirst Trap”


Cardi B has spoken brazenly about “thirst traps” and the perils of being a feminine public determine on the web. (VOGUE Taiwan / Wikimedia Commons)

A 2019 examine discovered that Instagram customers in Miami, Florida, are placing out the highest rate of “thirst traps” of any metropolis within the U.S.—particularly, 36 out of 1,000 images they publish to Instagram.

I used to be stunned to examine this examine for a number of causes.

First, it’s unusual to see the phrases “thirst lure” in a scientific context. Second, it makes me snicker to think about how these “scientists” went about figuring out which of the images had been “thirst traps”—was it primarily based on their very own arousal in response to them? Doesn’t sound very, umm … scientific.

And third, it made me understand how deeply the time period “thirst lure” has permeated our tradition.

Based on the most effective information, the term first appeared on Twitter solely in 2011, and now it’s already assumed that everybody is aware of what it means and is on board with the idea.

I refuse to make use of this time period.

Why? It reinforces misogynistic concepts which are already too pervasive in our tradition.

Certain, it’s not solely used to explain ladies’s images. In any case, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has been deemed a “political thirst trap.” However we all know that it’s overwhelmingly used to seek advice from selfies that includes ladies.

I’ve even been accused of this supposedly unforgivable sin when all I did was publish a wonderfully harmless photograph of my face. And when ladies share images that reveal some pores and skin, we’re usually met with a slew of bitter and disgusting remarks from attractive males.

On that notice, under are my 4 main issues with the time period “thirst lure.”

1. It implies ladies’s our bodies are inherently sexual.

Most of us have heard of the controversy surrounding school dress codes and the double normal they implement—what ladies are allowed to put on is far more closely monitored and policed than what boys can put on.

Boys can put on shorts with out it being deemed risque. They will even present their full arms and midriffs with out being a “distraction to their friends.” In actual fact, there aren’t actually elements of boys’ our bodies which are thought of scandalous to disclose—other than their genitals in fact.

The tacit message behind all of that is that ladies’ our bodies are inherently extra sexual and distracting than boys’ our bodies. And subsequently, ladies’ our bodies must be hid.

And right here’s the factor—the time period “thirst lure” is a direct extension of this logic. It suggests {that a} girl’s physique isn’t just a physique. It’s not impartial. No, it’s a sexual object that’s inherently provocative to males, no matter whether or not the lady intends to sexualize herself or not.

2. It goes hand in hand with rape tradition and slut-shaming.

The time period “thirst lure” is a superb instance of how rape tradition will be perpetuated by means of seemingly harmless language.

Right here’s the way it fuels rape tradition: If a lady’s physique is inherently sexual and provocative, then by displaying it with a thirst lure, she’s inviting a sexual response from males. And if she’s deliberately tempting him, which means he’s entitled to some type of sexual satisfaction from her, and even to her physique.

That is how males justify rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment in the direction of ladies.

Some males even go so far as to say that girls are “asking for it” just by carrying make-up or revealing clothes. According to this twisted reasoning, the time period “thirst lure” implies that she’s asking for males to thirst after her and ship her creepy feedback and messages suffering from sexual harassment.

3. It assumes that sexual attractiveness is goal (when it’s truly extremely subjective).

Utilizing the time period “thirst lure” assumes that there’s one normal of what everybody finds enticing. It assumes everybody could have the identical “thirsty” response to it.

However in actuality, it’s merely inaccurate (and very heteronormative, by the way in which) to imagine that any girl will “thirst” after a male thirst lure and that any man will “thirst” after a feminine thirst lure. What seems to be banal to 1 individual may qualify as a “thirst lure” to another person, and what’s sexually titillating to some folks may bore—and even repulse—others.

4. It implies that girls are at fault for males’s sexual frustration.

That is essentially the most insidious facet in my view, as a result of it’s on the root of all the opposite points.

Take into consideration the literal which means of “thirst lure” for a second—it describes one thing that traps your gaze and a focus, forcing you to expertise the unwelcome sensation of thirst. The metaphor of “thirst” implies that you just’re being disadvantaged of one thing important.

I like how Wikipedia unpacks the time period: “It refers to a person’s ‘thirst,’ a colloquialism that likens sexual frustration to dehydration, implying desperation.”

The time period insinuates that when a lady shows her physique, she’s trapping male viewers, coercing them to expertise lust and sexual frustration. Due to this fact, it’s her fault if her photograph provokes a sense of sexual deprivation. That is tied to the bogus thought that girls’s magnificence is a type of energy over males. But when a person believes a lady’s magnificence can exert a lot management over him, that solely exhibits how little management he has over himself. And that’s his downside. Not hers.

In actuality, a lady who posts a “thirst lure” is on no account forcing males to have a look at her. So no, there isn’t any trapping occurring. It’s not like she’s holding a gun to their head—they’ll scroll previous in the event that they so please. They will even disguise her posts, unfollow her or block her in the event that they really feel “trapped” once they bump into her images.

If they’ve an uncontrollable and irritating sexual response, that’s not her fault. The onus is on them to harness their self-control, fulfill their very own sexual wants, or cope with any psychological well being points they could be experiencing, quite than projecting them onto her.

All in all, once you describe somebody’s photograph as a thirst lure, it usually says much more about you than it says about them. You don’t have any thought what their intentions are. And no matter whether or not they intend to sexualize themselves, you aren’t entitled to something from them.

We dwell in a world the place we’re bombarded by 1000’s of pictures and stimuli every day. And fortunately, we’ve the free will to direct our consideration the place we want—do not forget that the subsequent time you are feeling “trapped.”

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