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The way feminists use "sexual objectification" is usually as hyperbole watch

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    Just wanted to say that when I hear this term being used I often cringe. There's a lot of feminist buzzwords and phrases that are pretty brazen hyperbole. Sex object, "piece of meat", exploitation of women. These are all examples of hyperbole that serve to make something fairly benign sound a lot worse than it is. Of course, "sexual objectification" has been used so long and extensively in public and academic discourse that when you question it people dismiss you as someone who's been living under a rock. But I've questioned and researched the term for a long time now and the more I've looked into it the more I've realized that it is both nebulous and little more than hyperbole.

    The first problem is that no-one seems to agree on what it actually means. If you criticize it for meaning one thing then people will tell you it's the other. The most common thing people think is that it describes someone being viewed as if they are an object. This is what people generally mean when they describe someone as being portrayed as a "sex object". This doesn't make much sense because a man who is looking at a sexualized image of a woman is not gaining gratification from looking at her because she appears to be an "object" to him, but because she appears to be a human being. As Wendy McElroy points out: 'objectification' of women means to make women into sexual objects; it is meaningless because, 'sexual objects', taken literally, means nothing because inanimate objects do not have sexuality.

    Even if you make an object sexually appealing to a man, you have to make it look like a woman. The human mind registers objects and people very differently, and humans are evolved to be sexually attracted to other humans. Objects are intrinsically not sexual, however. Therefore it is the aesthetic of "humaness" we find sexual, not the contrary aesthetic of "objectness", so to say that an image of someone that displays them sexually is portraying them as an "object" is simply inane.


    The other way people think of "sexual objectification" is that it relates to the word "objective", as in someone is being viewed as a sexual objective. A man masturbating over the thought of a women is only thinking about the objective of having sex with her. This is not inane, but I hardly see why -if this is what the term describes- it needs to exist. Focusing on one aspect of a person is not particularly problematic or extraordinary. We do this all the time. With a waiter in a restaurant we see them and only wish they'd bring us food on time. With the postman we only wish he'd deliver our letters. It's not a problem; although we do this, unless we're psychopathic, we're still able to comprehend that the waitress is not simply a food carrying automaton, just as much as the Playboy model is not just a sex machine. It's not problematic, it's perfectly natural. We can't be expected to try to consider the entire persona of anyone and everyone we benefit from.

    Some might argue that the problem is that women are objectified more, so that leads men to think of all women as being nothing more than something for them to have sex with. If the only women a man ever saw were in images in Playboy, then this would make sense. But women make up half the population and we all have mothers, daughters, nieces, sisters and wives. As it stands, saying that sexualized images of women makes men think of them as sex objects is equivalent to saying that when you watch football you are only able to think of the players as football playing machines, and are unable to comprehend that they are actually human beings with their own lives. But not only that, it's also like saying that because their is vastly more public interest in watching men playing football than women, that means that any women who watches football must think that all men are football playing machines.


    So what is the actual definition of sexual objectification? In a way, it doesn't seem to matter, because so few people who use it seem to know. But the feminist philosopher Martha Nussbuam defines objectification as this:

    instrumentality: the treatment of a person as a tool for the objectifier's purposes;

    denial of autonomy: the treatment of a person as lacking in autonomy and self-determination;

    inertness: the treatment of a person as lacking in agency, and perhaps also in activity;

    fungibility: the treatment of a person as interchangeable with other objects;

    violability: the treatment of a person as lacking in boundary-integrity;

    ownership: the treatment of a person as something that is owned by another (can be bought or sold);

    denial of subjectivity: the treatment of a person as something whose experiences and feelings (if any) need not be taken into account.

    Can any of these conditions be said to be especially the case for glamour models or strippers any more than they can be said of your average profession, be it office worker, waiter, chef, or soldier? It sounds more appropriate for describing slavery. Of course, if feminists just used "sexual objectification" to describe trafficked women, it would be fine. That does seem to be an apt use for it. But the term is instead used rather similarly to how they use "exploitation".

    You can consider everything in life as exploitation. As Nietzsche said, all life, no matter how we idealize it, is nothing more nor less than exploitation. Generally though, when we talk about someone being exploited, we mean people are getting something out of them against their intentions. But feminists use the term to describe the treatment of highly paid models who very much enjoy working for the likes of Playboy or other men's magazines, highly paid actresses, or paid porn stars who often think of their sexual abilities as an art and have their own award shows. Some feminists, such as Ariel Levy, have even gone as far to say that women who take photos of themselves naked and post them online, or who wears revealing clothes, are "self-objectifying".

    So both exploitation and sexual objectification are words that have the potential to really mean something, but are generally used by feminists in a way that is so broad that it is essentially inane. Another piece of rhetoric is "piece of meat", as in when a man fantasizes about a woman sexually, he thinks of her as a "piece of meat". This makes about as much sense as saying that a hungry person see's a burger as a woman. Nothing else needs to be said about that because it's so absurd.

    These terms all describe things that are essentially very mundane, but they make them sound much worse.

    I don't really understand what feminists envision will happen by trying to stop what they call "sexual objectification". You can stop every women from being a porn star or modelling for erotic imagery, but men are still going to masturbate. They'll just use their own thoughts, but in those thoughts they aren't going to be imagining discussion Socrates with a woman, they're going to be thinking of things probably far dirtier than anything they'd find in porn. In the end, it's a campaign against male heterosexuality.
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    That's far too long to read.

    My understanding of sexual objectification is the idea of a man wanting a woman only for sex (likewise, a woman wanting a man only for sex).
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    (Original post by ILovePancakes)
    That's far too long to read.

    My understanding of sexual objectification is the idea of a man wanting a woman only for sex (likewise, a woman wanting a man only for sex).
    If you read my post you'll see my response to that concept.

    The other way people think of "sexual objectification" is that it relates to the word "objective", as in someone is being viewed as a sexual objective. A man masturbating over the thought of a women is only thinking about the objective of having sex with her. This is not inane, but I hardly see why -if this is what the term describes- it needs to exist. Focusing on one aspect of a person is not particularly problematic or extraordinary. We do this all the time. With a waiter in a restaurant we see them and only wish they'd bring us food on time. With the postman we only wish he'd deliver our letters. It's not a problem; although we do this, unless we're psychopathic, we're still able to comprehend that the waitress is not simply a food carrying automaton, just as much as the Playboy model is not just a sex machine. It's not problematic, it's perfectly natural. We can't be expected to try to consider the entire persona of anyone and everyone we benefit from.
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    (Original post by KingBradly)
    Just wanted to say that when I hear this term being used I often cringe. There's a lot of feminist buzzwords and phrases that are pretty brazen hyperbole. Sex object, "piece of meat", exploitation of women. These are all examples of hyperbole that serve to make something fairly benign sound a lot worse than it is. Of course, "sexual objectification" has been used so long and extensively in public and academic discourse that when you question it people dismiss you as someone who's been living under a rock. But I've questioned and researched the term for a long time now and the more I've looked into it the more I've realized that it is both nebulous and little more than hyperbole.

    The first problem is that no-one seems to agree on what it actually means. If you criticize it for meaning one thing then people will tell you it's the other. The most common thing people think is that it describes someone being viewed as if they are an object. This is what people generally mean when they describe someone as being portrayed as a "sex object". This doesn't make much sense because a man who is looking at a sexualized image of a woman is not gaining gratification from looking at her because she appears to be an "object" to him, but because she appears to be a human being. As Wendy McElroy points out: 'objectification' of women means to make women into sexual objects; it is meaningless because, 'sexual objects', taken literally, means nothing because inanimate objects do not have sexuality.

    Even if you make an object sexually appealing to a man, you have to make it look like a woman. The human mind registers objects and people very differently, and humans are evolved to be sexually attracted to other humans. Objects are intrinsically not sexual, however. Therefore it is the aesthetic of "humaness" we find sexual, not the contrary aesthetic of "objectness", so to say that an image of someone that displays them sexually is portraying them as an "object" is simply inane.


    The other way people think of "sexual objectification" is that it relates to the word "objective", as in someone is being viewed as a sexual objective. A man masturbating over the thought of a women is only thinking about the objective of having sex with her. This is not inane, but I hardly see why -if this is what the term describes- it needs to exist. Focusing on one aspect of a person is not particularly problematic or extraordinary. We do this all the time. With a waiter in a restaurant we see them and only wish they'd bring us food on time. With the postman we only wish he'd deliver our letters. It's not a problem; although we do this, unless we're psychopathic, we're still able to comprehend that the waitress is not simply a food carrying automaton, just as much as the Playboy model is not just a sex machine. It's not problematic, it's perfectly natural. We can't be expected to try to consider the entire persona of anyone and everyone we benefit from.

    Some might argue that the problem is that women are objectified more, so that leads men to think of all women as being nothing more than something for them to have sex with. If the only women a man ever saw were in images in Playboy, then this would make sense. But women make up half the population and we all have mothers, daughters, nieces, sisters and wives. As it stands, saying that sexualized images of women makes men think of them as sex objects is equivalent to saying that when you watch football you are only able to think of the players as football playing machines, and are unable to comprehend that they are actually human beings with their own lives. But not only that, it's also like saying that because their is vastly more public interest in watching men playing football than women, that means that any women who watches football must think that all men are football playing machines.


    So what is the actual definition of sexual objectification? In a way, it doesn't seem to matter, because so few people who use it seem to know. But the feminist philosopher Martha Nussbuam defines objectification as this:

    instrumentality: the treatment of a person as a tool for the objectifier's purposes;

    denial of autonomy: the treatment of a person as lacking in autonomy and self-determination;

    inertness: the treatment of a person as lacking in agency, and perhaps also in activity;

    fungibility: the treatment of a person as interchangeable with other objects;

    violability: the treatment of a person as lacking in boundary-integrity;

    ownership: the treatment of a person as something that is owned by another (can be bought or sold);

    denial of subjectivity: the treatment of a person as something whose experiences and feelings (if any) need not be taken into account.

    Can any of these conditions be said to be especially the case for glamour models or strippers any more than they can be said of your average profession, be it office worker, waiter, chef, or soldier? It sounds more appropriate for describing slavery. Of course, if feminists just used "sexual objectification" to describe trafficked women, it would be fine. That does seem to be an apt use for it. But the term is instead used rather similarly to how they use "exploitation".

    You can consider everything in life as exploitation. As Nietzsche said, all life, no matter how we idealize it, is nothing more nor less than exploitation. Generally though, when we talk about someone being exploited, we mean people are getting something out of them against their intentions. But feminists use the term to describe the treatment of highly paid models who very much enjoy working for the likes of Playboy or other men's magazines, highly paid actresses, or paid porn stars who often think of their sexual abilities as an art and have their own award shows. Some feminists, such as Ariel Levy, have even gone as far to say that women who take photos of themselves naked and post them online, or who wears revealing clothes, are "self-objectifying".

    So both exploitation and sexual objectification are words that have the potential to really mean something, but are generally used by feminists in a way that is so broad that it is essentially inane. Another piece of rhetoric is "piece of meat", as in when a man fantasizes about a woman sexually, he thinks of her as a "piece of meat". This makes about as much sense as saying that a hungry person see's a burger as a woman. Nothing else needs to be said about that because it's so absurd.

    These terms all describe things that are essentially very mundane, but they make them sound much worse.

    I don't really understand what feminists envision will happen by trying to stop what they call "sexual objectification". You can stop every women from being a porn star or modelling for erotic imagery, but men are still going to masturbate. They'll just use their own thoughts, but in those thoughts they aren't going to be imagining discussion Socrates with a woman, they're going to be thinking of things probably far dirtier than anything they'd find in porn. In the end, it's a campaign against male heterosexuality.
    *slow claps* I tip my hat to you sir, you have crafted perfection.
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    (Original post by KingBradly)
    something fairly benign sound a lot worse than it is.
    You're right, me (and millions of other girls, I'm sure) getting groped by a man in his 40s at the age of 12 is benign
    Sexual objectification is totally fun and cool and enjoyable
    We love walking down dark roads and having men shout things like "hey sexy where you up to?" at us while literally fearing for our lives

    Also if I wanted to read a novel I would have gone to the library lmao bye
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    (Original post by pizzad0gs)
    You're right, me (and millions of other girls, I'm sure) getting groped by a man in his 40s at the age of 12 is benign
    Sexual objectification is totally fun and cool and enjoyable
    We love walking down dark roads and having men shout things like "hey sexy where you up to?" at us while literally fearing for our lives

    Also if I wanted to read a novel I would have gone to the library lmao bye
    First, if you aren't going to read the argument and respond like a adult don't leave a comment, second millions of girls in 3rd world countries, and wow so you maybe once you got cat called, im sorry someone found you attractive. Also i would just like to point out how dirty and disrespectful it is that you relate your 1st world problems to the real issues people face is 3rd world, just goes to show how little of an argument you have.
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    (Original post by josh75)
    First, if you aren't going to read the argument and respond like a adult don't leave a comment, second millions of girls in 3rd world countries, and wow so you maybe once you got cat called, im sorry someone found you attractive. Also i would just like to point out how dirty and disrespectful it is that you relate your 1st world problems to the real issues people face is 3rd world, just goes to show how little of an argument you have.
    I would read the argument if it was shorter. I'm not going to waste my time on something I know is going to be bull - I got everything I needed to know from the first paragraph.
    I talk about things I've encountered from myself and other girls I've met because I can't exactly talk for someone in a completely different situation than me, and I never said I had it worse than them. The context for OP's argument is the Western world (the bit that I read anyway) so I'm going to respond in a way that links back to that, buddy. And actually not once, it happens on a regular basis and you can't tell me it's just "someone finding me attractive" because you have no idea what it's like to have to walk home with your keys in your hand posed as a weapon in case you need to protect yourself. From, let me repeat, the age of 12.
    It's not dirty or disrespectful because I wasn't relating my problems to 3rd world problems, don't put words in my mouth and jump to conclusions from something that isn't even in my reply. The fact that people have it 100% worse than me is something I am well aware of, however it doesn't mean that women in the 1st world have it easy. If you want to talk about 3rd world problems I can do that too.

    EDIT: also I love how you overlooked the part about getting sexually assaulted, which is something that happens to approximately 1 in 4 women in the western world, because even you know that's fu**** up.
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    (Original post by ILovePancakes)
    That's far too long to read.

    My understanding of sexual objectification is the idea of a man wanting a woman only for sex (likewise, a woman wanting a man only for sex).
    Is it a bad thing?

    (Original post by pizzad0gs)
    You're right, me (and millions of other girls, I'm sure) getting groped by a man in his 40s at the age of 12 is benign
    Sexual objectification is totally fun and cool and enjoyable
    We love walking down dark roads and having men shout things like "hey sexy where you up to?" at us while literally fearing for our lives

    Also if I wanted to read a novel I would have gone to the library lmao bye
    You're confusing sexual objectification with harassment.
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    (Original post by Josb)
    You're confusing sexual objectification with harassment.
    They're very much linked though, sexual harrassment is (more often than not) a result of sexual objectification
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    I found an example of sexual objectification OP:
    Name:  cosmo.jpg
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    (Original post by pizzad0gs)
    You're right, me (and millions of other girls, I'm sure) getting groped by a man in his 40s at the age of 12 is benign
    Sexual objectification is totally fun and cool and enjoyable
    We love walking down dark roads and having men shout things like "hey sexy where you up to?" at us while literally fearing for our lives

    Also if I wanted to read a novel I would have gone to the library lmao bye
    I'm not talking about sexual molestation and harassment. I'm talking about Playboy and strip clubs. Typical feminist, when they can no longer find anything to argue against, they make a straw man.
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    (Original post by pizzad0gs)
    They're very much linked though, sexual harrassment is (more often than not) a result of sexual objectification
    I objectify women all the time, but I don't harass them.
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    (Original post by pizzad0gs)
    They're very much linked though, sexual harrassment is (more often than not) a result of sexual objectification
    What sexual objectification are you talking about here?
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    (Original post by Josb)
    Is it a bad thing?


    You're confusing sexual objectification with harassment.
    I don't think it is necessarily. People often sexually objectify themselves; I definitely have done it and I'm pretty sure everyone I know has at some point also. However, on a personal level (and I cannot claim that this is reflective of any population), I feel that some of the sexual objectification I have experienced has made me highly suspicious of men and their motives, which is, of course, a destructive attitude.
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    (Original post by Josb)
    I objectify women all the time, but I don't harass them.
    That's not what I meant. I didn't say everyone who objectifies women harrasses them, but most people that harrass them objectify them also.
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    (Original post by ILovePancakes)
    I don't think it is necessarily. People often sexually objectify themselves; I definitely have done it and I'm pretty sure everyone I know has at some point also. However, on a personal level (and I cannot claim that this is reflective of any population), I feel that some of the sexual objectification I have experienced has made me highly suspicious of men and their motives, which is, of course, a destructive attitude.
    What kind of sexual objectification are you talking about here? The word is so nebulous and often used so broadly and inanely that it's very difficult to know what you mean to describe with it.
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    (Original post by pizzad0gs)
    That's not what I meant. I didn't say everyone who objectifies women harrasses them, but most people that harrass them objectify them also.
    So the objectification isn't a problem then.
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    (Original post by Josb)
    Is it a bad thing?


    You're confusing sexual objectification with harassment.
    It's for the person on the receiving end to define whether that is a bad thing. The problem that exists for women is that only being seen as a sex object often comes at the cost of being seen as a relationship object. That's where it is a very big problem because relationships require a much rounder appreciation of a person.

    Being only wanted for sex implies a wilful refusal to acknowledge or desire to appreciate their humanity. That's what can be insulting.

    You want the shell but you don't want the nut inside....I'm sorry; it's a whole package deal and some people don't want others picking and choosing which parts they can take
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    (Original post by KingBradly)
    What kind of sexual objectification are you talking about here? The word is so nebulous and often used so broadly and inanely that it's very difficult to know what you mean to describe with it.
    A man masturbated on the tube next to me once. For example.
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    (Original post by KingBradly)
    So the objectification isn't a problem then.
    Oh but it is, because as I said, harrassment is a result of objectification. Besides, when you see someone as potential f*** material, the way you treat them changes.
    Don't get me wrong, everybody objectifies people in one way or another, it's part of human nature to do so to a certain extent, but sometimes this is done in a way that is toxic and is harmful to the person on the receiving end. I know it can't be stopped fully, but something can be done to lessen the extent to which it happens, especially to women. (Men are also objectified and this is very harmful to them too, but not quite as much as women)
 
 
 
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