Picture, for a moment, the following scenario. A man and a woman are sitting on a couch watching a movie. Since every movie outside of gay porn is supposed to include an attractive woman, a scene comes along where the cameras emphasize just how attractive she is. Sometimes it’s a body double. Sometimes it’s Photoshopped. The brains and genitalia of men don’t care. It often leads to a conversation like this.
Man: Wow. That woman is pretty damn hot!
Woman: Yeah, I can see why you’d think that.
Pretty mundane, right? How many people have had that exact conversation with only a slight variation in the verbiage? Hell, I’ve heard my own parents have this conversation. It’s not awkward, nor should it be. When something or someone shows up on a screen and we find it attractive, it tends to start a conversation.
That scenario is not an issue. It probably happens, in some form or another, on a daily basis. Now, let’s picture another scenario. It’s the same scene. A man and a woman are watching a movie. Right on cue, the attractive woman shows up. Then this conversation happens.
Man: Wow. That woman is pretty damn hot!
Woman: How dare you think that way! You’re objectifying that woman! You’re a disgusting excuse of a man! You should be harassed, denigrated, and shamed! You are contributing to the sick and disgusting culture of rape and patriarchy that has disenfranchised women for centuries! If you had any decency, you’d apologize to all women and kill yourself!
It’s hard to really assess all the issues with this scenario. I think Ron Burgundy said it best.
Now I don’t claim that this kind of conversation happens all the time. I’m sure it has manifested in some form, if not among feminist circles, then definitely in blind dates that go horribly wrong. No matter what form it takes, it’s a growing part of our culture, specifically the growing tumor that is politically correct culture.
I’ve talked about feminism before on this blog and I always feel like I have to walk over a pile of broken glass before I get to the issues. I don’t expect this to be different.
I know without a doubt that I’m going to offend some people with what I say here. I know there are some people, male and female, who will never be convinced that they’re wrong about anything. So long as we don’t elect these people to public office, I’m okay with that. I want this post to be thought-provoking and informative to those who are actually open it.
With that said, I’m going to put on my politically correct flak jacket and talk about sexual objectification. I’m bracing myself as much as I can, but I guess this is one case where being a no-name aspiring erotica/romance writer works to my advantage. Not enough people give a shit about who I am or what I say to whine so I guess I don’t have to brace for much.
Even so, I know this is a sensitive issue. It also relates closely to my recent posts on body shaming. My position on this issue isn’t a popular one. I understand that. I try to see it in the context of the real world that functions on the functionally flawed processes of human biology. In politically correct crowds, who think reality can be muted, this is a big no-no.
In these crowds, objectification (especially the sexual kind that emphasizes women) is right up there with animal cruelty, slavery, and poor wifi in terms of evil. Say the word “sexual objectification” in an overly PC crowd and you’ll send most of them into a rage that rivals that of the Incredible Hulk. As a noted comic book fan, I can say that even the Hulk would be taken aback by the anger that this concept evokes.
So what the hell is sexual objectification anyways? Well, the fine folks at Wikipedia define it as follows:
Sexual objectification is the act of treating a person as an instrument of sexual pleasure. Objectification more broadly means treating a person as a commodity or an object without regard to their personality or dignity. Objectification is most commonly examined at the level of a society, but can also refer to the behavior of individuals.
That’s fairly reasonable. I think most people would agree with it. On the surface, it really doesn’t sound like a good thing. Reducing a human being to the same status of a used dildo or semen-encrusted sock just feels wrong. Ask radical feminists and overtly PC folks and they’ll say that’s what happens whenever there’s a pretty girl in a movie, comic book, or video game.
They’ll even take it 10 steps further than any reasonable person should. They’ll claim that the mere presence of a woman with attractive features, be they big breasts or hourglass figures or shapely butts, contributes to rape culture and the denigration of women. They’ll argue that just seeing these images is enough to make men feel like harassing and degrading women is okay.
Anyone know this woman? Also known as the most hated woman on the internet?
I won’t say her name. I refuse to give her more attention that she deserves and she already gets way more than she should. She is just one of many in the overly PC/radical feminist crowd that go out of their way to look for something to get offended over. Then, for some reason, they’re surprised when people call bullshit.
People like this, male or female, don’t deserve to be taken seriously. They are ill in the sense that they’re addicted to the attention and the money/fame/legal protections that come with it. There’s nothing valid or honest about it whatsoever and it contributes nothing to this issue.
So if we’re going to ignore these people (and they deserve to be ignored), what is the true context of sexual objectification? How serious is it? Has the bombardment of Victoria’s Secret ads and Nikki Manaj videos made the world more dangerous for women?
Well, believe it or not (and PC/radical feminist types usually don’t), we have data on this issue. According to the US Department of Justice Statistics, there has been little to no change in the rates of rape, sexual assault, or domestic violence over the past 10 years. During that time, everything from internet porn to Megan Fox movies have come out and spread, but they all failed to turn society into a smoldering pool of misogyny.
Shocked? You probably shouldn’t be. Those same statistics show that crime as a whole is going down. People today, men and women alike, are far less violent than they were 50 years ago. So either we’re learning to get along or patriarchal media conspiracies are woefully inept. I like to be optimistic about the progress of humanity, but that tends to get me into trouble.
That’s not to say that objectification isn’t a relevant issue. It is. However, I think our approach to sexual objectification is a bigger problem than the objectification itself. There’s no question that we should prosecute crimes against women to the fullest extent of the law. There is a question, though, on the full context of objectification.
Last year, Alexia LaFata wrote an article for Elite Daily explaining “Why it’s Completely Okay To Objectify Men…No Really, It Is.” With a title like that, it’s safe to assume that the context is going to be horribly misconstrued. She ends up validating those assumptions with quotes like this:
Well, I hate to silence straight white males again (I know you guys have been getting a lot of flak from me for merely existing lately), but until you live in a world in which your objectification leads to excessive victim-blaming, unwelcome catcalling, mortifyingly high rates of sexual assault and rape and having your value in society based exclusively on what you look like, I will continue to exercise my God-given right to objectify you.
Offended yet? I doubt it. I’ve seen worse on a Harry Potter message board. That said, there is something very flawed about this sentiment. For one, it’s an excuse, not a reason. Reasons have logic and facts behind them. Excuses are just the less stinky, overtly contrived shit we pull out of our asses to justify something that’s too hard to justify with facts.
It is a double standard, plain and simple. Ms. LaFata doesn’t even hide from that. However, double standards rarely have a basis in reality or morality, for that matter. They’re just elaborate excuses. Men look for ways to justify how they feel about women, even if those ways are bullshit. Women can do the same for men. The bullshit stinks just as much.
Moreover, and this is the point that Ms. LaFata avoids completely, it ignores the one important fact that completely undermines the politically correct approach to sexual objectification. Brace yourselves because this is going to send everyone crying to their safe space.
Men and women are just wired differently.
I’ll give the radical PC crowd a moment to stop gasping. Once again, reality doesn’t give a shit about your excuses. It’s sticks to the crude, but effective forces of biology. Unfortunately for the PC crowd, that biology doesn’t agree with them.
According to a 2013 study, men are more significantly aroused by visual stimulus than women. When measuring their state of arousal, they responded much more to what they saw whereas women’s responses were more complex and varied. That’s not to say that men are solely aroused by sight, but it is more pronounced.
With this in mind, the use of beautiful women in movies, TV, and video games makes perfect biological sense. There’s no patriarchal conspiracy needed. Men are already hard-wired to respond to the sight of a pretty girl. It’s one of the easiest ways to arouse them that doesn’t involve bacon. I’m sorry PC folk, but when something is that easy, people tend to do it. It’s not laziness. It’s pragmatism.
In this context, can you see why using beautiful women in media is a thing? Can you see why fighting it is akin to the Pope telling people not to masturbate? That’s not to say it can’t go overboard. As with masturbation, it can manifest in disturbing ways. Let’s just try to maintain some level of context here.
What does that mean? Well, remember those scenarios I mentioned earlier? Let’s try and make the first one more acceptable than the second. I think men and women alike can do more to address this issue.
Men, understand that women aren’t aroused in the same way as you and be respectful in how you admire the female form. Woman, understand that men are visual creatures who will be attracted to the sight of beautiful women. That doesn’t mean they hate you or want to exploit you. That’s just how they’re wired.
I’m trying to do my part with my books. I’m also trying to focus on relationships in the media that are well-balanced in terms of male/female dynamics and sex-positive characters that deserve more respect. We can make things more pleasant between men and women. In an age where we can find plenty of reasons to hate each other, let’s at least make those reasons valid.