Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines object (as a noun) as: a thing that you can see and touch and that is not alive. That is perhaps a bit on the blunt side for a definition. It can also be defined as: a person or thing to which a specified action or feeling is directed. So to objectify (a verb) is then defined as: to present as an object, especially of sight, touch, or other physical sense; make objective; externalize; to present concretely; to present as an object. To present as an object…if applied to humans, this would be like de-humanization right? Suddenly a person made to be an object is suddenly and inexplicably made to be emotionless, mindless, incapable of being anything less than a “thing?” Perhaps I’m incorrect but that’s certainly how it sounds to me.
A dear friend of mine posted a wonderful video on Facebook today that really brought the objectification of women to light. I know it happens and it’s disgraceful but it’s easy in society to quickly begin to look the other way. It’s easy to begin to go with the flow and not think much of it but therein lies the problem. As long as we look the other way or not think much of it, it will continue. In my humble opinion, objectification is a huge part of why sexism still exists and much more strongly than many realize or like to admit. The two certainly go hand in hand.
I don’t think it’s any revelation that people know that advertising companies constantly, no, incessantly use sex to sell things. In the process they typically make women into objects as a means of selling whatever product they choose to sell. It’s the whole, if you buy this beer, women will want you, etc., or some similar message in order to get people to buy the product. As suggested by this lovely lady, Laci Green, those messages are so ingrained in our society that women are so willingly to objectify ourselves now. We’re so inundated with images of “perfect” women and realizing how men (or other women as the case may be) respond to it that we begin to feel our whole worth is tied up in our ability to sexually attract someone. I’m with Laci on this – that’s utterly ridiculous.
The self-objectification is evident in the amount of “selfies” being taken by women and usually in some fashion that shows off a woman’s body. This is evidenced by, at least in part, to some commentary in a chat room I sometimes visit. Recently, a chatter there was complaining about his cousin or niece who constantly takes selfies and is always disgusted by how she poses and is dressed in said photos. At the same time, this individual had no problem with objectifying a fellow chatter and doing nothing but talking about her beauty and body and the things he’d like to do to her and what she should be doing not him, etc. This person complains about the selfies and yet he was the proof as to why women do that. Men like himself help perpetuate the notion that women must do that in order to attract men.
It truly is everywhere. It’s in restaurants like “Hooters,” who literally have an entire wait staff that is dressed sexually and are hired literally based on their bodies. There’s all those women at bars and other businesses that are dressed only in lingerie or bikinis – again to get people to buy drinks, etc. There’s no thought given to the harm in doing that to people. It’s in the music, it’s in the videos, it’s in the news…it’s literally everywhere. Right before writing this I was watching an episode of “Two and a Half Men” and Alan is trying to have a talk with Jake about a drawing of his showing a woman’s derriere. Alan made the attempt to talk Jake out of thinking of women as just objects but of course, there was good ol’ Charlie to undo all of Alan’s hard work. The audience laughs and it’s funny and it’s fine. It’s not fine. While I’m sure the show made some attempt to point out the issue of objectification, it probably did more harm than good. Making something that’s serious into a joke, well does just that…makes it a joke. It means that topic is no longer considered something that needs to be considered. It shows a level of tolerance where there should be none.
I think what I love about Laci’s video is that she talks about there being a difference between being objectified and still feeling sexy/attractive. Is there something wrong with wanting that or finding someone sexy? No, but it’s important to remember that it’s about the person first, sex appeal second. I frequently hear how people (men and women) want to be with someone they can converse with; they want someone who’s intelligent. Bodies are nice. Bodies fade. Will you have anything to offer once that happens and surgery is no longer an option? It’s much better to feel sexy in your own skin and ooze sex appeal via self-confidence.
Women are more than breasts, hips, legs, lips, hair. We are not composites of body parts. We are human. We happen to have those parts and many more but we also have minds. We are intelligent, self-sufficient beings that deserve to be thought as as such. We have so much to offer and not ONLY our parts. Women have contributed so much to the arts, science, humanities. I think we’re only beginning to show how wonderful we are, we simply can’t afford to get caught up in the hype, because that’s what it is…hype. Please watch the video I’ve linked. It really says everything so well.