I read this on Twitter earlier so I created a poll…
“If a woman posts a selfie in a bikini, why should she complain when guys objectify her?” Just read this. So, does this mean:
Women exist for sex only
Some men need to STFU
At last count, it was 100% in favor of choice number two.
Is is a cop-out to say that men simply cannot help themselves? That they are biologically wired to see a near-naked woman and want to hit it? According to studies, not really.
Sexy women in bikinis really do inspire some men to see them as objects, according to a new study of male behavior. Brain scans revealed that when men are shown pictures of scantily clad women, the region of the brain associated with tool use lights up. Men were also more likely to associate images of sexualized women with first-person action verbs such as “I push, I grasp, I handle,” said lead researcher Susan Fiske, a psychologist at Princeton University. (Read the study here.)
And in a “shocking” finding, Fiske noted, some of the men studied showed no activity in the part of the brain that usually responds when a person ponders another’s intentions. This means that these men see women “as sexually inviting, but they are not thinking about their minds,” Fiske said. “The lack of activation in this social cognition area is really odd because it hardly ever happens.” (Source, National Geographic)
I get that. You get that. And if you’re a guy, you’re probably like, “YES! Proof that I cannot help it.” Or guys will argue that women do the same (studies disagree, but whatever).
This is not the issue. The issue is that you (or the guy and millions like him that make doorknob comments like the one at the beginning of my post) feel entitled to sexually objectify women. The guys who feel sexually entitled to women are the problem.
But wait: are we all objectifying each other in some way?
If You Think Someone Is Hot, Cool
As a woman, as a human, I enjoy receiving compliments. It’s nice when a guy/girl tells me something lovely. Who doesn’t like that boost? There’s a reason my avatars on social media have me dolled up and looking more than decent: I want to project the best version of myself as an author and professional. As is my right to do.
Most people put forth the best versions of themselves. You are likely not all that different. (I don’t know, maybe you are.) The point is, if you want to compliment someone, then compliment them without expectation. I get a lot of nice compliments on my green eyes (rare, I guess — thanks, Russian ancestors). Sometimes, however, I get the ‘Your eyes are beautiful. I’d love to see the rest of you.” So wrong.
And I really don’t care what you’d love to see. Fuck off.
Honestly, as a survivor (and it’s right there in my bio), you would think these men would be slightly more respectful. Nope. I am more than a pair of green eyes. So are you. So are the men who are sending these ‘compliments.’ Have some respect for yourself, guys.
We ALL Have a Right To Not Be Objectified
Let’s remove gender for a moment.
I’m personally not a fan of ‘selfie culture’ FOR ME because I’m more of an introvert. I don’t like putting myself on display because of the attention it brings, which makes me uncomfortable. I’d rather focus on sharing content, posts, quotes, and writing that stimulates people’s minds. That’s my choice as a writer and professional businessperson. That said, for those who do post selfies — I love the freedom you have to share those private glimpses into your lives and you will find no judgment here from me.
If a person chooses to share a photo of themselves, as is their right, why do other people feel it’s their right – as the viewer of that photo — to judge that person? We don’t exist to entertain each other (unless we are actors and you are paying for that entertainment). So, who are you to judge and objectify that person’s body, clothing choices, hair, or activity? It’s embarrassing to me, as a nation of adults, that we do this to one another.
I remember looking at Glamour Magazine’s ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ Section when I was a young girl and thinking, wow, this is so mean. Some of the ‘Don’ts’ were okay, not my style, but it’s not like we all lived in a glossy NYC mag with a glossy NYC mag budget. Some of those ‘Don’ts’ were simply doing the best they could at the time.
I still kinda hate those magazine bitches for that.
In the rare instances where I’ve told a guy to back off (I usually just block and report), I’m sometimes met with rage or even stalking. “It was just a compliment” when I told him, no, it was none of his goddamned business if the carpet matched the drapes (seriously what is it with men and redheads? Get over it, already).
According to Everyday Feminism, this is a common reaction:
In instances when women speak out against being treated as objects, some men build resentment – because they feel like women aren’t operating in their roles correctly.
This is largely why so many men take rejection so harshly. They feel like failures, because their role is to be proactive and pursue women, and when they’re told “no,” it’s a rejection of their manhood. Since they don’t realize that they’ve been taught toxic ideas from a young age, they believe that women are the ones to blame for not following a script. In reality, it’s due to our culture reinforcing damaging stereotypes that hurt everybody in the end.
Kudos to the rare man who will apologize. I’ve encountered this specimen and he does exist, which gives me hope for our species.
Are We All Just Objectifying Each Other?
We’re all taught in elementary school to ‘treat others how you want to be treated,’ yet when it comes to social media, this lesson is often lost, regardless of gender.
- Survivors of all genders are often disrespected and disbelieved — and why? Because it makes someone feel better to what, fling accusations at them?
- LGBTQ are made fun of simply for existing because others are uncomfortable.
- Racism and anti-Semitism are rampant.
- People accuse every Muslim of being a terrorist.
Where is the respect? Is anyone listening to anyone else?
By objectifying each other as one-dimensional beings, instead of humans with brains, thoughts, and feelings, we do ourselves a disservice. It may be a lot to ask, but the next time you feel the need to lash out at someone on social media who disagrees with you, take a step back and remember: this is a living, breathing person with a pulse.
They may be a troll, they might even be an awful person undeserving of our attention, and sometimes the best reply is no reply at all (I often don’t respond to trolls or flamers because I value my time and emotional energy too much). The question here is: Are we objectifying them right back?
Maybe we’ll all guilty of objectification and don’t even realize it. I don’t have the answers, only the questions.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts below.
Norah Colvin saysJuly 5, 2017 at 8:29 am
Great post, Rachel. I totally agree. Well said. Thanks for saying it.
Rachel Thompson saysJuly 12, 2017 at 8:18 pm
Thank you, Norah! xx
Kathy Morelli saysJuly 6, 2017 at 8:15 am
Great post. Interesting analysis. I;d love to read the while study. I mean, c’mon, we ALL have a lower brain emotional reaction FIRST as that is HOW our brains are built ..thalamus sorts incoming sensations to lower brain first routed but at same time to cognitive centers millisecond slower…so then in that millisecond, we get our human response ..the thoughtful response, the social inhibitory response.. so OF COURSE men can help it,
seems researchers need to be called on bullshit to me…wink …lol
Rachel Thompson saysJuly 12, 2017 at 8:21 pm
Hi, Kathy! I linked to the study in the post — here’s the link again (easy to miss): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3801174/
I definitely agree: we react on an instinctual, visceral level, male or female. Thankfully, brains take over via socialization. So bullshit or not, brain scans show different chemicals for men and women in response to various stimuli.
Either way, it explains A LOT.
Andrea saysJuly 10, 2017 at 5:27 am
If men initially process sexual attractiveness at such a primitive level, I find myself wondering if they also experience reasonable rejection of their predatory/objectifying responses as an affront to survival. I’m also thinking about dehumanization the precedes assault and/or murder.
On a practical level, however, I do a fair amount of blocking… my quick version of STFU.
Thanks for an excellent post. I’ll share with the SA advocacy group I work with.
Rachel Thompson saysJuly 12, 2017 at 8:23 pm
Good question, Andrea, and I couldn’t answer that. I imagine you could find the answer somewhere if you Googled long enough or interviewed an expert in psychology maybe? IDK.
Thank you for your kind words. Sending healing hugs.
Stewart saysJuly 24, 2017 at 7:46 pm
Great post …
men have a long way to go But I do believe we are getting it slowly. As I am Introvert and I don’t really have eney guy friends that I hang out with on a regular basis tho
Once a week I do go out with my friends ,our meet its usually co ed this is were I have seen that kind of respect between young and old
This is the sad part I have see lots of it on social media and out and about as you have pointed out in your post as well.
Thanks great read and totally agree and I am a guy.