This is the point of objectification
Basking in post-swim endorphins, I take a selfie for my Instagram page. Saltwater still stings my eyes. My sunglasses are smeary. My phone screen is dimmed by the glare of bright daylight. I can’t see exactly what my happy snap looks like but I’m not too particular; I throw it up on my Instagram story and think nothing more of it.
Over the following few hours, my inbox becomes crowded with more messages: Damn, woman. Looking good. Hot AF. Wish I was there. Sexy bitch. Give a guy a heart attack. Flame emojis. More flame emojis. Did I mention the flame emojis? Most from Guys I Do Not Know; some from Guys I Do Know. I’m not sure which I find more problematic.
These men aren’t interested in the fullness of me as a woman, or human being.
They are not interested in who I am or what I am or how I am.
I have been diminished and silenced, reduced to a single body part that exists only for the
viewing and consumption of the male gaze.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash
It’s 2022 and we have journeyed through the #MeToo movement and the Time’s Up movement and call-out culture and Grace Tame as Australian of the Year and I find myself wondering if it has all been for nothing.
I have shared my own story; the trauma of being objectified as a child for the sexual gratification of men. Once again, anyone who knows me knows my advocacy against the objectification of women. Yet my inbox is filled with the exact thing I have spent the last decade writing and speaking words in opposition to — but all for nothing, it would seem.
Young girls are being raised in a culture where the subliminal message being reinforced is that their bodies, their looks, and their sexuality are valued above all else.
They are growing up believing that they exist only to be viewed and therefore must be pleasing to the male gaze at all times. This leaves them caught in perpetual enslavement to self-objectification — the need to evaluate and control themselves based on their appeal to others rather than in terms of their own health, happiness, and wellbeing.
Then there is the glamorization of objectification; the illusion that it grants women power over men. The danger with such thinking is that it continues to uphold the belief that women remain sexual objects above all else. And it is far easier to justify sexual violence against someone if we view them as an object, not a person. This is especially true of the porn industry and its normalizing of female bodies as commodities to be viewed, purchased, mistreated, abused, and trafficked for profit.
Despite the work that feminist movements have done, and continue to do, objectification remains prevalent in our society. We are still being taught through advertising, media, sport, celebrities, and the porn industry that women are objects to be looked at, judged, used, and discarded.