One hears all the time about objectification of women.
The basic complaint seems to be that there are women out there who are unable to respect themselves, and who wish only to portray themselves as objects of desire. The idea is that these women use their charms, their beauty and their desirability to attract men, and to get what they want from them.
To certain extent, the charge cannot be denied – beauty contests like Miss USA, or Miss World or Miss Universe do glorify feminine beauty, and a lot of the contestants do appear to be airheads, and dependent solely upon their beauty and their charms.
But why does this phenomenon occur?
Objectification is forced upon Women
Ultimately, the human race is divided into two parts – men and women. And if women are objectifying themselves, then they must be doing it for someone. It stand to reason that the target of their pitch is men. And if so many women are using the same pitch, it cannot be denied also that somewhere or the other it is working. It thus stands to reason that the cause for women’s behavior must be looked for in the behavior of men.
From an Internet article about a girl who was in a real BDSM relationship, we get the first clue about what drives women to do this,
“I knew I was an object to him, but I was his object and he would take care of me,” said Squeak.
In other words, this woman was ready to objectify herself in order to have a relationship with this man. The objectification was a means to an end. If it would have helped to present herself as something else – a space alien, or as some kind of animal, she would have consented to that too.
And in fact, she did,
Squeak felt vulnerable, and the relationship provided her with a sense of security.
“Did I love him? He was a savior. I shifted my dependence on him.”
It was for this sense of security, that Squeak behaved in this manner, put up with all the “shenanigans” as she terms it.
It is therefore clear to see, that the behavior of Squeak, and most women for that matter, is a matter of response. Their actions are really a reaction – they are responding to something in men, rather than taking on this stance (objectification) ab initio.
What is wrong with men?
Ultimately, the focus must turn to men. Why is it that they are unable to treat women as anything more than an object of pleasure and desire? Why is it that they are not really able or willing to treat women as equals, or as human beings or even as fellow beings who too may have likes or dislikes, feelings, ideas or thoughts?
Our first clues to this mystery also appear in the article above. Let us first get introduced to Squeak’s slave master,
And Leopold was no slouch. The young professional consulted from home as a financial analyst for a major technology corporation. Once ranked the top analyst for a Fortune 10, he had also completed two Ironman triathlons, visited all seven continents, performed at Carnegie Hall, and founded an award-winning arbitrage company.
On the outside there was a veneer of stability, but on the inside, we see something truly sorrowful,
The reflections displayed the mind of a profoundly sad soul. Unhappy that his professional life was a mindless rat race, overwhelmed by the incessant strategizing, the politicking and womanizing, but most especially that his brother didn’t recognize him after waking from his coma. While his brother did recover, Leopold wrote that he must become more independent. The accident was a reminder in mortality.
To put it another way, Leopold’s life was without fun, enjoyment or merriment. It was the life of a drone.
But at the end of the day, each of us – men and women – are living beings. And thus, all of us would like to have some contact with that mysterious entity called Life.
The dysfunctional relationship with Squeak was one way for Leopold to prove that he was still living, that he was not a machine, not simply a cog or a gear, but a real live human being.
- No one had ever stopped Leopold from taking a vacation!
- No one had ever stopped Leopold from having a real relationship!
- No one had ever stopped Leopold from having a real life?
Then why this dysfunction?
Although the present case is very extreme, it does give us pointers to the underlying causes of men’s behavior. Reading a bit more about Leopold reveals,
His accomplishments were displayed in a shrine in his apartment: pictures of triathlons, university logos, honor society membership displays, diploma and trophies. Upon seeing the shrine for the first time, Squeak laughed hysterically and then made fun of Leopold.
“He tried to laugh it off, but he was insulted,” she said. “I felt guilty, so I pretended I was impressed.”
It is thus clear that Leopold valued his accomplishments very highly. In fact, he would not tolerate even some light hearted humor about the trophies from someone he presumably cared about. Those accomplishments were that important to him.
From this point, it would not be a stretch to say that Leopold very much defined himself in terms of that trophy case. That bunch of trophies, medals and pictures were what made Leopold, Leopold.
To go further, not only did that set of of trophies make Leopold, they were very much Leopold himself. At least that is how Leopold thought of himself – as a bunch of trophies, medals, honors and certificates…
Whether it is a medal, a certificate, an honor or even a career – it cannot be denied that all these things are lifeless.
They were bestowed upon someone for his accomplishments – true – but does the sum total of the accomplishments make the Man, or is he something more? Is he something organic? Is there some life that is inside him? Is there a heart in there that pumps? A stomach in there that digests? A colon in there that ejects?
Or is he something lifeless?
Life is about choices
We make ourselves what we want to make ourselves. That freedom is given to us at every waking moment. And Leopold too had made a choice.
An old folk tale from India tells of a terrible demon who could not be killed by any weapon. And the mystery of that tale was the soul of the demon resided no longer in his own body but in that of his parrot. A similar story occurs in the first short story, “Sonnie’s Edge” in the book, “A Second Chance at Eden” by Peter F. Hamilton.
The case of Leopold is the same – he was no longer a living being. Having defined himself by a set of lifeless honors, achievements and awards, Leopold himself, had become lifeless in the process.
Since objects are devoid of life, it is but natural that an object will treat everything else in its path as an object as well.
The objectification of women, therefore, is only the second instance of a atrocity. The first atrocity is the objectification of Men themselves.
- Unable to develop a personality for themselves,
- Unable to take a stand on a set of beliefs,
- Unable at all to relate to something living,
- And able alone to define themselves solely as a source of economic means
These Men have condemned themselves to a routine of a peacock – endlessly dancing around, displaying their striking plumage to attract potential mates, suitors or friends.
But once attracted, they have no means of relating to these people – conversation on matters outside of work, an appreciation for literature, or any other kind of hobby defies them.
This is what happened to Squeak – she thought she was approaching a man. What she had really gotten involved with was a trophy case. And she ended up being treating like one.
Men, Take Back Your Life!