Objectification. I feel like, as a culture, we don’t spend enough time thinking about it. Recently, I have spent a lot of time thinking about it. But it was seeing this video (warning: NSFW, adult content) that really sparked this post. The main complaint about the video is that it just reverses the issues, turning misogyny into misandry. I believe the point of the video was to see, if the roles are reversed, how uncomfortable people get when it is the men who are put in the position that the women are commonly in. The music video parodies another video that openly features completely topless women. But the original music video wasn’t questioned, the parody was–it was flagged as inappropriate and removed from YouTube (although eventually it was put back up again). In interviews, the creators of the parody say what they really wanted to inspire was discussion and awareness about the issues. And they certainly have achieved that. Not to mention, it’s a pretty catchy song.
The end goal is pretty simple: equality. But how can we be equal if some of us are regarded as objects? As much as it is generally women who are objectified, it cannot be ignored that it happens to men, too. I’m sure it is in the quest for equality that this happened, but that doesn’t make it any less wrong. Having men who strip for a watching audience is just as bad as having women do it. So this is an issue with people, not just with women.
Sometimes I imagine how I will educate my children on objectification. How to tell them that they don’t need to fall into the trap that society sets for them. But how do you do that when every magazine, movie, website and tv show only has beautiful people? People that are nice to look at. And who defines which people are nice to look at? Well, we can thank magazines, movies, etc. for that, too. It’s a nice, vicious cycle.
Once upon a time, being chubby was a desirable quality. It meant a person was wealthy and well-fed. Now, it is a sign of ugliness. Having grown up chubby (not obese), and bullied with the word “fat” for many years, I can attest to how ugly it made me feel.
So how do you teach your children that if people are only judging you on your appearance, they’re objectifying you? We are more than our appearance, so much more. Everyone knows someone who is radiant on the inside, but their outward appearance doesn’t comply with current “beauty standards”. How different my childhood would have been if I hadn’t taken that teasing so seriously. How different if I felt beautiful regardless of the fact that I was not as skinny as the girls in Seventeen magazine.
People are not objects. An individual does not exist so that someone can judge them, or watch them for their own personal pleasure. The fact that such a culture has been created, where scantily clad people fill magazines and websites with “sexy” photos, so someone, somewhere, can fantasize about them…it disgusts me. On a deep visceral level.
What makes it even worse is the issue of consent. I don’t know when it became “cool” to think that no means yes, but enough is enough. People are not objects, so they better be given the chance to say “yes” before you decide to get intimate. This whole “silence means consent”, “maybe means yes”, “she/he was totally asking for it by what they were wearing”…it’s gross and it needs to stop. The only thing that means yes, is yes. If they are too incapacitated to say yes, it means no. I don’t know what kind of power trip you have to be on to see it any other way.
It saddens me that we as a people make so much progress in some ways, and are so primitive in others. The reality is that objectification is not okay, when anyone does it. I don’t believe we’ll ever truly reach equality until we see that.