Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sexual Objectification EDITED

I admit that I was frustrated and flustered when I wrote the original Sexual Objectification blog entry, therefore it isn't well written.  Here is the edited version, beginning with some definitions:
sexualization: prioritising the sex, sexuality and sexiness of a person.
sexual objectification: treating a person as a sexual object.
feminism: the belief that people of all genders and sexes should have equal opportunity and choice.
the women's movement: the history of feminism, particularly in America in the 1960's/'70's

A friend posted this on her facebook.  She and her peers are religious, involved mothers and they all commented about how relieved they are that being religious, involved mothers combats early sexual objectification.
I pointed out that I was under the impression as a child that I would marry by 16.  My mother and the mothers who volunteered at my Catholic school (which, I discovered much later on, was an extremist parish) all emphasized that little girls should prepare for marriage constantly until they're at the altar - sexual objectification was encouraged, though in manners less obvious than skimpy clothing.  Religious, involved mothers can do more damage than good - another lady commented about how her mother actually pushed her in the opposite direction and hated sexuality.
Nobody in this discussion on the article replied to my point, but eventually one of them commented "It's as though the women's movement created more objectification than less of it."

Because of the correlation between the women's movement and shifts in advertising, this can appear as a causation.  In the years leading up to the women's movement, sexual objectification in advertising was minimal - women still appeared in advertising as service objects, only fully clothed.  The levels of sexual objectification, particularly of women, in mainstream advertising are at a disturbing high today in American culture.

However, women were more sexually objectified, to the point of being considered property of father/husband before the women's movement.  Higher education was discouraged for a woman because it made her a less serene servant - and nobody saw the problem in proclaiming this conundrum bluntly.  Women themselves chose to abandon education in order to objectify themselves.
So I replied to this lady " the women's movement made it illegal for a husband to rape his no."  What more obvious example is there that the women's movement gave women human status?
She replied "that's a law, this article is about culture."

.....WHAT?!?!?!?  Don't most laws come about through cultural shifts?!?!?  The women's movement is incomplete, it isn't finished.  It gave women choices, that's what feminism is.  However, because woman-as-sex-objects are still very highly valued in our culture - as evidenced by advertising - many women make the ill-informed choice to objectify themselves.  I argue that a choice made without awareness of other options isn't an autonomous decision at all, which is the difference between sexualization and sexual objectification.  If you want me to elaborate on how I know these women's decision-making, please ask.
Feminism is still working to elevate women's minds to equal societal value.  I hate to say it, but the women who choose to be sex objects, as opposed to sexual human beings, are perhaps the biggest obstacle to feminism.

And yes, I'm aware that my privileges are showing...I'm working on it.

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