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What does "objectification of women" mean, and can men be objectified?

 
 
Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 06:26 pm
The phrase "objectification of women" bothers me. It is a phrase that is always used to describe how men look at women, and it is always assumed to be a bad thing without question. Yet it doesn't really seem to mean anything in specific It spins a mythology about men and society without really saying anything. It seems to me the term only has meaning inside of a very specific narrative... yet in a circular fashion, the term is used to support that narrative.

Well since I am claiming the term is meaningless, it is hard for me to describe the meaning that I am claiming it doesn't have. But here goes...

Modeling is done by both men and women to market products with all sorts of messages based on cultural understanding. Is there any way to determine marketing is "objectification" or not? Are there examples of males being "objectified"? Is all modeling objectification?

Would sports stars be an example of objectification? They are playing a role in a game in which physical attributes are far more important than anything else.

Then there is pornography which, especially recently, women often initiate and profit from. Can women objectify themselves? Does this mean we should prevent women from using their bodies as they see fit.

Of course pornography is a business. How does this differ from any other business. I don't take the time to think about the feelings of the person pumping my gas, or cooking my hamburger. Am I objectifying them?

I am asking is two things

1) If "objectification" means anything, we should be able to come up with a definition that will explain why one situation is "objectification" and another isn't... and we should explain if, and why men aren't objectified. So how do we define "objectification" in a way that makes sense for all situations (in or outside of the specific narrative it is designed to prove).

2) After we have done that, someone should explain why the word matters? Is there some judgement to be made, where "objectification" is a bad thing (or an indifferent thing). Logically if objectification is a bad thing, we should be able to label any situation that matches our definition as a bad situation.

When the word "objectification" comes up in a discussion... it always refers to how men look at women, and it is always assumed to be a bad thing. But, what does it really mean?



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Type: Discussion • Score: 4 • Views: 16,195 • Replies: 59
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 06:33 pm
I have felt objectified many times. It's disgraceful is what I say Wendy. Somebody should put a stop to that sort of thing. I feel soiled.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 06:37 pm
@spendius,
Quote:
I have felt objectified many times


Oh, please explain.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 06:48 pm
@ebrown p,
Being looked up and down to gauge the size of my two principle assets. Cut of the jib is one expression.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 06:59 pm
@spendius,
Quote:
Being looked up and down to gauge the size of my two principle assets. Cut of the jib is one expression.


In that case, what is wrong with the word "staring"?

If it makes someone uncomfortable, then this is bad behavior (and in a workplace it is illegal). Using the word "objectification" case doesn't say at all what the problem is or why it is wrong.

This is wrong only when it is unwelcome.

Welcome attention (and there is welcome attention) is not a bad thing.
hawkeye10
 
  -1  
Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 07:02 pm
I have only ever heard the charge of "objectification" from followers of the victim culture who charge another of being sexually interested with out being interested in the mask. Considering that a lot of great sex is impersonal sex the allegation that a potential paramour who is uninterested in the persona is an abuser is hilarious.

Men are generally not allowed to be victims, we are the usual suspects when an abuser is needed.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 09:52 pm
Hmmmm.... interesting.

The only REAL situation that comes to me off the top of my head are the "comfort women" from WW2. They certainly were considered objects.

Girls who are sold into "sex tourism" probably qualify but they are children, not "women" per se.....

But yes, I've heard the term and been confounded by it, just as you have.

I've heard it applied to strippers and, having known a few strippers, I'd say they were more guilty of objectifying men than the men were of objectifying them.....

Interesting question. I'm going to think on this a bit.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 10:21 pm
@ebrown p,
Quote:
... (and in a workplace it is illegal).


Is it really illegal, Ebrown, with possible fines and jail time?
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 10:26 pm
@boomerang,
Thanks Boomer.

I think there should be a big distinction made based on whether someones rights are violated. Rape and Slavery are clearly crimes against humanity (I think the word "objectification" is far to weak in these cases).

I am very supportive of laws prohibiting sexual harassment, especially in the workplace. Women (and men for that matter) should be able to reject and stop unwanted advances-- whether that be leering, or undue use of authority. I think the term harassment is a very good descriptive term for these cases.

I agree with you about strippers. In this case it is a consensual agreement (unless it falls into the first category) that both the stripper and the customer realize a benefit and it is nobody's else's business. I have also heard the "objectification" used for sexual stereotyping in advertisements, or for the way that some people (almost always men) express their sexuality (that doesn't fall into any of the first three categories).

This is the issue-- the term "objectification" is used intentionally to lump consensual sexual behavior and non-abusive sexual identity in with non-consensual harassment and worse. It is the muddying of these very different ideas; the abusive with the consensual and the criminal with the individual expression that is the problem.

We should make a clear distinction between abusive behaviors (which society should absolutely not tolerate) with the different ways we express ourselves that don't hurt anyone.
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 10:32 pm
@JTT,
Are you joking JTT?

As you must know, in the US there are very strong laws against anything that creates a "hostile work environment". Companies that don't take action against sexual harassment can be sued. Many years ago, a friend of mine was fired for making an inappropriate comment about a co-worker's clothing. I think the majority of Americans, at least those of us working for corporations, have had training on sexual harassment that companies give to keep themselves out of trouble.

All of this is a good thing, no one should be impacted by sexual harassment.

My point is that sexual harassment is not the same as consensual behavior, or thought crimes, or an individual's sexuality expressed in non-abusive ways. The term "objectification" is a broad, ill-defined word that attempts to lump all of these things together.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 10:52 pm
@ebrown p,
No, I wasn't joking and I guess that I was right in my thinking. It's not illegal, in the criminal sense. I understand that it is subject to civil action but I hadn't ever heard of anyone doing time for leering or suggestive talk.

Don't take my expressed shock as a measure of agreement with such behavior.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 11:41 pm
Like, your kidding..
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Feb, 2010 11:57 pm
@ossobuco,
I have to reread all this. My primo time was pre all this anti harassment stuff, which I am for.
I'll back off of previously posted opinions.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 12:04 am
@ossobuco,
I would have had to make complaints re Jimmy.
That would have been silly.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 12:12 am
@ebrown p,
I see all this as a damned thicket. We all have dealt with hostile work environments.

I'll even say this is too bad, as we used to enjoy the talk. It was NOT harassment.

On the other hand, I do sympathize with the people of either sex who have to deal with this.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 04:41 pm
@ossobuco,
A hostile work environment is a violation of your rights. I don't think "objectification" has anything to do with it. Other things that have been connected with the term "objectification" don't involve a violation of anyone's rights.

Isn't the protection of a worker's rights the most important issue in these cases?
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 04:53 pm
@ebrown p,
The argument goes that not having ones persona (the personality that is attempting to be sold) taken seriously is an insult, is offensive, is an act of hostility. It is a carry over from the successful sale of such ideas as that a person who is 1/16 black must be said to be black if that is what that person wants to be. We should have put a stop to this nonsense long ago. This is supposed to be a free country, we have the right to buy or not buy what ever we like. If I want to think of a woman as primarily a piece of ass it is my right to do so. Only with some women am I likely to get some of said ass if I do take this position, but that is a different story.
aidan
 
  2  
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 05:22 pm
@hawkeye10,
Quote:
If I want to think of a woman as primarily a piece of ass it is my right to do so.




Laughing Laughing lots of funny stuff tonight.
Yeah you can think whatever you want-it's only a problem when such thoughts are obviously manifested in your attitude or actions, say like at work or something.

Would you be offended if I posted this under things that would make appropriate signatures?

Laughing Laughing I'm still laughing Laughing Laughing
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 05:37 pm
Getting slightly serious here, I do have a friend who had a constant bevy of admirers (such an old fashioned term) for her rather astounding physical presence. I can see her as objectified, since I was around to watch it go on. She had trouble for years finding out who might actually like her as a whole person.
Never did marry.

I'll grant you that was all not the only possibly explanation for that, but the 'disconnect' or 'objectification' really seemed to be there in daily life.

As to whether some men as a group or men as individuals can be objectified, I'd say, sure.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 06:12 pm
@ossobuco,
Let's consider admiring someone's physical traits as a definition of "objectification".

It is hard for me to imagine considering this wrong. It is also hard for me to imagine a solution to this "problem". This would also be very similar to someone who has admirers on talent or wealth. Was Mick Jagger objectified?

I don't think having admirers would be a problem. Boorish behavior would be a problem, but it would be the behavior (not the "objectification") that would be the problem.

Are you suggesting there is a social change we should have made that would have made life easier for your friend?
 

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