FAQ: What is sexual objectification?

Sexual objectification is the viewing of people solely as de-personalised objects of desire instead of as individuals with complex personalities and desires/plans of their own. This is done by speaking/thinking of women especially as only their bodies, either the whole body, or as fetishised body parts.

Sexual attraction is not the same as sexual objectification: objectification only occurs when the individuality of the desired person is not acknowledged. Pornography, prostitution, sexual harassment and the representation of women in mass media and art are all examples of common sexual objectification.

The concept of objectification owes much to the work of Simone de Beauvoir regarding the basic dualism of human consciousness between the Self and the Other: the general mental process where humans classify the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’. Women are universally viewed as the Other across all cultures, a role which is both externally imposed and internalised, and which means that women are generally not truly regarded as fully human. An important point of de Beauvoir’s was that this Othering effect is the same whether women are viewed as wholly inferior or if femininity is viewed as mysterious and morally superior: Otherness and full equality cannot coexist.

Related Reading:


Clarifying Concepts:

  • Gaze, especially the “male gaze” (Wikipedia): Gaze
  • More on gaze and objectification:

    Yes, I admit, there is a “female gaze,” although some feminists like Laura Mulvey argue that “the male figure cannot bear the burden of sexual objectification,” and that besides, the female gaze is merely the co-optation of the male gaze. I would myself add that the female gaze is inherently different. While the male gaze objectifies and sexualizes, the female gaze is “emmasculated,” that is powerless.

  • drumgurl (Redneck Feminist): Hot enough to be feminist (see also: tough enough to wear pink)

About tigtog

writer, singer, webwrangler, blogger, comedy tragic | about.me/vivsmythe

41 comments on “FAQ: What is sexual objectification?

  1. Using the definition of ‘sexual objectification’ presented here, I am unable to agree that any of the activities you list as objectifying (pornography, prostitution, sexual harassment and the representation of women in mass media and art) are examples of objectification. I don’t believe that more than a tiny minority of mentally ill people who watch porn, view art, use prostitutes or even sexually harass women truly think of any women as depersonalized objects.

    Do you think someone looking at porn or art believes the woman that porn or art is based on is an object? I don’t think people think that. I think people looking at porn or art are in touch enough with reality to understand that the woman/women represented in the media they are viewing are actual human beings and not cardboard cut outs or computer rendered images. I think people viewing such media are aware that the models/actresses are actual people with thoughts and feelings. If you don’t, then you must have a *very* low opinion of humanity in general.

    Do you think that a ‘john’ visiting a prostitute thinks she is a mannequin or a blow up doll instead of a human being? I don’t think they believe that. I’m pretty sure that someone visiting a prostitute understands that she’s a real, live human being. Isn’t that the whole point of going to a prostitute? The ‘john’ may not care about a prostitutes hopes and dreams, but that doesn’t mean that he is unable to recognize that she has them.

    Do you think that asshats who like to sexually harass women believe those women are depersonalized objects? I don’t think such people believe that. I’m pretty sure that abusers such as these realize that their targets are human beings with thoughts and feelings. I don’t think they would even want to harass women if they truly thought of them as nothing but objects. I think people like this want to humiliate and demean a real, live person – not an object. Seriously, if these kinds of people just wanted to touch and feel some sort of body wouldn’t they just buy a sex doll or something? They’d get in a lot less trouble. Instead, they target real women. They choose targets that they know are not objects. They choose targets that they know are real people because you cannot humiliate and degrade an object. These jerks recognize the humanity of their targets (which precludes the possibility that they are objectifying them), they just don’t respect it.

    Honestly, I don’t see how anyone who was not seriously mentally ill could be guilty of objectification in the sense that you have defined it here. Sane people in touch with reality do not view others as objects. Normal people understand that others possess the same basic humanity as they do themselves. This does not mean that people are always interested in every aspect of that humanity, but that doesn’t mean that normal people fail to recognize that it exists.

  2. Depersonalisation is not the same as dehumanisation. Sexual objectification also does not mean viewing them as an thing rather than a human, but as an object rather than a subject of desire i.e. personalised interaction. A desire subject is liked as well as desired, a desire object is desired only.

    The women in porn and prostitution are usually regarded by the consumers as interchangeable, because they have been depersonalised i.e. the personality is of no interest to the consumer. That a consumer would, if asked for some sort of poll, intellectually acknowledge that the women have thoughts and emotions does not change that while the consumer is using porn/prostitution they generally don’t care which woman provides it. (Edited to add: That so many fantasy scenarios are involved in porn/prostitution interaction is more evidence for depersonalisation – removing the true personality of the woman even further from the situation is what most consumers overwhelmingly prefer.)

    Many of our institutions are also depersonalised: the law, indeed, is celebrated for its objective majesty. But sexual relations are between private individuals, not the institutions of the State.

  3. OK, the portrayal of objectification you provide in your reply is slightly different than what I took from your original post. The sort of depersonalization/objectification you describe (acknowledging that a person is human, but not really caring about their individual personality during a given interaction) really doesn’t seem like a problem to me at all. In fact, I don’t think society could even function without a good deal of that sort of ‘objectification’. You already mentioned the depersonalized nature of the courts and other government institutions. I would take that further and say that our interactions with most of the people we come across in a day are depersonalized to great extent. I think it could be easily argued using your elaborated definition that we objectify strangers on the street, fellow employees, teachers, students, almost everyone we see on TV, cashiers, salespeople, telephone operators, and pretty much anyone we interact with who isn’t a close friend or family member (and maybe even them in certain situations). I don’t see anything wrong with this. Though I recognize the basic humanity of my fellow human beings, I’m not always interested in the life story or personality of every person I come into contact with – and I doubt if you are either.

    What’s wrong with not being interested in the individual personality of people you are interacting with or watching in media? So what if someone relates to a person as a cashier and doesn’t give a second thought to their hopes and dreams? So what if a person watches actors on TV for the entertainment they provide without caring about them ‘as a person’? So what if a ‘john’ doesn’t care about the individual goals and aspirations of a prostitute he is with? So what if a person doesn’t care about the personality of a porn actor or model they are viewing in some media? So what?

    In your original post you inferred that the problem with objectification was that it caused women to be viewed as not fully human and thus regarded as some kind of ‘other’. You further asserted that being regarded as this ‘other’ prevented them from being treated equally. To quote your post:

    “The concept of objectification owes much to the work of Simone de Beauvoir regarding the basic dualism of human consciousness between the Self and the Other: the general mental process where humans classify the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’. Women are universally viewed as the Other across all cultures, a role which is both externally imposed and internalised, and which means that women are generally not truly regarded as fully human. An important point of de Beauvoir’s was that this Othering effect is the same whether women are viewed as wholly inferior or if femininity is viewed as mysterious and morally superior: Otherness and full equality cannot coexist.”

    You’ve stated in your reply that even if these women are being ‘objectified’ in some way they are still regarded as human by those who are objectifying them. So the rest of your argument doesn’t really seem to follow any more. If these women are regarded as human then they’re not some sort of ‘other’, which means this ‘otherness’ won’t get in the way of equality. The sort of objectification you’ve depicted in your reply doesn’t really seem to me to be any sort of obstacle to equality for women, men, children, cashiers, used-car salespeople, department store customers, or anyone else.

  4. I think your description of such highly depersonalised interactions is bordering on the sociopathic, frankly. Is it possible to go through the day interacting in such a depersonalised way? Sure. Is it a mentally healthy way to view other people you meet as you pursue your own wants/needs? I very much doubt it, especially in the area of physical intimacy, and most especially in intimate interactions where the commodification of porn/prostitution is absent.

    You are also missing the crucial word “fully” in your arguments against the way that Othering means that women are not regarded as fully human. Othering is also the source of discrimination due to racism, religious bigotry and various other prejudices against people belong to a group classification which has been depersonalised, so that their individual ambitions and emotions are downplayed and disregarded.

  5. Kostanza has just replied in an exceedingly long and pedantic fashion that I am of course totally wrong-wrongitty-wrong.

    He feels that describing his defence of depersonalising daily interactions in order to streamline life as borderline sociopathic is unjust, as he just wants to avoid wasting time on anyone who isn’t family/friends and he feels that so do all other normal people. He also feels that de Beauvoir’s (and my) use of the qualifier in “fully human” is just a weasel word, and that we are too arguing that depersonalising means dehumanising in toto, by golly.

    Kostanza, please do us all the courtesy of keeping your replies more concise in future. I summarised your screed in two sentences, although I acknowledge that keeping it that short does strip some nuance from your points. However, there is nuance and then there is just padding. Some supporting argument is fine, but try and keep it to one paragraph per point please. The essays can go on your own blog.

    Two points in response:

    * If extending your tight circle of people worth personalising is such an imposition to you, perhaps you should instruct your existing acquaintance to cease the common practise of introducing you to people they’ve recently met just because they think you all might get along. Sounds like actually people are making a habit of personalising people they happen to interact with All The Time.

    * There is a reason that the English language distinguishes between subhuman and inhuman. Your failure to note this indicates either ignorance or tendentious disingenuity.

  6. I’m honored that you not only chose *not* to post my reply but further felt it necessary to post a vitriolic response to what I wrote that completely mischaracterizes my every point. I am honored because this proves that you *know* in your heart, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am right. You have reversed yourself repeatedly, failed utterly to make a cogent argument, and continually made assertions that are as unfounded as they are ridiculous. In short, you have totally failed in your defense of your indefensible position and have chosen to act like a child in hopes of hiding your failure from others who may happen upon your blog. You are a joke and I’m not going to waste any more of my time on your foolishness.

    PS: My last comment was of 558 words in length, less than the 576 words of the comment previous – which you published without complaint. That you use my comments length as an excuse for your little smear job is the very definition of disingenuity. If this is how you were taught to behave in feminism 101, I’d hate to see the sort of bratty, unreasoning, intellectually dishonest nuts who graduate from feminism 102.

    Good bye and good riddance.

  7. It appears that Kostanza either doesn’t know what “vitriolic” means or else has led an extraordinarily sheltered life. As to not complaining about the length of previous comments, I was willing to cut you some slack for the first two. Three in a row? Sod that for a game of soldiers.

    You find the philosophical concept of objectification, and its implications for social equality, uncomfortable. It makes you very defensive about the value, to you, of depersonalised interactions. People whom our social structure habitually depersonalises and devalues really don’t and shouldn’t accept that the convenience to you of depersonalising others outweighs their personal dignity.

  8. I would like to give an answer, if I may, to the question “so what?”, as there may be others who doubt whether objectification is really damaging. Put simply, the more a person can depersonalise someone else, the easier they will find it to abuse them. The less a type of person or group of people is individuated (and this happens on a sliding scale, not as a binary), the less what happens to them is felt to matter.

    Consider all the ways this is apparent in the world:
    – It is recommended that if you are held hostage or kidnapped you should try to say your name as often as possible, because it will be harder for the kidnapper to kill you if they have to think of you as an individual person.
    – The memorials at Auschwitz focus on giving the names and histories of the people who died there, to give back their individual identity after the concentration camp tried to take it away.
    – People carrying out a genocide always uses a system of “othering” the group they are killing, and devote a lot of energy to preventing them from being seen as individual people.
    – Look at the difference in the news frenzy the media can generate when a single person with a good backstory is killed, versus the comparative apathy when a large group, especially if they are “different from us” dies. Look at how, in a story about large numbers, every journalist knows to lead with an example of one or two individuals.
    – Analysts of the extreme levels of abuse that occur in blogs and online forums all concur that the distancing effect of being able to place comments without actually interacting, face to face, with the people you are talking to is a contributing factor.

    The more you can get into the habit of thinking of a type or group as interchangeable, non-distinguishable, “different”, not people you identify with as having things in common with yourself, the easier you will find it to harm someone from that group, or not care if they come to harm. With porn and strip clubs and the representation of the female body in much film and advertising, and so on, we have multi-billion dollar industries actually *cultivating* such a habit in massive numbers of people.

  9. The comments on objectification in porn are interesting. As far as I have witnessed, it seems that a large proportion of modern, well-produced porn focuses intently on the woman/women in the scene, allowing their personality to be communicated and their responses to be clearly displayed, whereas the male in the scene is required to serve as a very highly skilled and athletic pleasure provider.

    Obviously, the reduction of the male to a disembodied penis has the effect of allowing the male viewer to imagine himself into the scene, is this particularly wrong? Probably.

    The point, however, is that in a lot of this stuff, objectification doesn’t seem to be the goal, rather the joyful, playful and sporty pursuit of extremes of pleasure for both/all parties. Is there an argument that this is just another way of showing male domination over women, like: “I dominate her through extreme pleasure”?

    If the woman in the scene is genuinely experiencing repeated orgasms, etc. and is glad to be involved in this mode of employment (acknowledging that all employment can be considered subjugation, but remember the male performers are employed too) where exactly lies the conflict?

    Considering the idea that ‘every man’s fantasy is to ‘have’ two women’, are scenes with one woman and two men a celebration of female fantasy/pleasure, or is it simply a multiplication of her degradation?

    Can porn be considered to display raw, happy, mammalian sexual equality?

  10. Sorry, I didn’t finish. The final question is this: Isn’t ‘soft’ porn, where a woman sits, stands or spreads, alone, in posed isolation for the viewer to stare at and fantasize into whatever he chooses MUCH more dodgy than ‘hard’ porn, in which the woman (and her dancing partner(s)) appear to have an awful lot of fun?

    Sex used to sell stuff is twisted; sex that is used in a way that just says ‘this is (premier-league) sex’, enjoy!’ is totally acceptable.

    You know what Bonobos are like?

  11. The point, however, is that in a lot of this stuff, objectification doesn’t seem to be the goal, rather the joyful, playful and sporty pursuit of extremes of pleasure for both/all parties.

    Oh, c’mon, Al. The point is for the viewer of the porn to see something that is sexually arousing. The performers are doing a job.

  12. Exactly, mythago: porn is performance. That wouldn’t be a problem on its own if it wasn’t for the fact that many porn performers (after they have retired due to loss of perkiness) report a multitude of unsafe work practises that left them damaged, coerced and often terrorised into performing.

    Are all porn sets dangerous/abusive workplaces? Of course not.

    Are far too many likely to be places where the porn they produce is just filming actual rape? In my opinion, yes, so how does an ethical consumer ensure that they are only watching porn that is produced with proper safety considerations for the performers taken?

  13. @koztanza – FWIW, from what I can see of your posts at the beginning, you were very rational and reasonable. It was a shame that things got — erm — out of hand. I was really interested in seeing an honest dialogue on this theory, but it was sadly cut short.

    Do you have a blog? I would be really interested in reading more of your writing.

  14. I need a clarifier for this “Sexual objectification is the viewing of people solely as de-personalised objects of desire instead of as individuals with complex personalities and desires/plans of their own.”

    In a static visual medium, like a photo or painting or drawing, do women need to be presented with an accompanying paragraph describing their personalities, histories, and goals, since there is no way to infer personality, history, or goals in a static image describing only a single moment, since image only presents image, and personality, history, and goals require a higher order of abstraction that only words can describe and time imply?

  15. since there is no way to infer personality, history, or goals in a static image describing only a single moment

    Some of the great portrait artists of history would beg to differ.

    Think about famous images of men in history. They all are staged to imply a life beyond the static moment and beyond their function as sexual beings.

    The same is not true of the majority of images of women in history.

  16. Nate, I’m sure there are potential academic and wordy responses to your question, but just to answer with an illustration: I recently contemplated a similar question myself in relation to two very different galleries of women’s bodies.

    One, the “Booby Wall”, presents a series of headless, disembodied, close-up breasts for the viewer’s perusal. It overtly claims to be a breast cancer support site, but as a viewer I didn’t find that the women were presented as whole people at all.

    The other website, “Uncovered”, also had pictures of breasts. However, they were part of portraits of women, with faces, engaged in active, real lives. The pictures were complex and intriguing, not purely presented as body parts for the viewer’s titillation. Some had accompanying sentences or paragraphs which expanded on the women’s stories and allowed their own words to shine through, but the photos retained their impact as standalone images also.

    Static art needs, perhaps, a bit more credit that you’ve given it. “A picture is worth a thousand words”.

  17. Yay, I’m glad this thread is still going. I’d like to add a few thoughts.

    People often talk about objectification in the abstract sense and this is why it’s so hard for many folks to get a grasp on what it really means to women. You have to think about it in terms of the choices women make in life based on this thing called sexual objectification; and you have to wonder how they shape her values.

    Consider that pretty much all females in our culture after hitting puberty become sexualized to some degree regardless of how we act or what we do. The physical aspect of a human is in many ways the most superficial part of our being. Yet, women are condemned to spend countless brain cells and hours of our lives worrying about that very aspect of our person.

    It is often said, that a parallel can be made between men being objectified financially and women’s physical objectification. No argument here other than a few observations.

    1)The journey of woman’s sexual/physical objectification occurs at a very early age. Girls can expect “the gaze” as early as 10 years old, depending on her level of development. I believe this is the root of many behaviors that society sees as “female pathologies”. It is because an immature child is forced to handle this superficiality and must learn to to make some hard choices very early on.

    2) Western ideas of physical beauty have strayed so far from anything that could be considered positive attributes other than something for attracting members of the opposite sex. That is, processed/bleached hair, eating disorders, skimpy clothing (the porn star look, basically) have replaced true biological markers for health and fertility, such as a proper % body fat, healthy natural hair, and emotional well being.

    3) Once a woman has come to terms with accepting this objectification (we all have to find our peace with it), all of us women can look forward to the days when we will be considered “unfuckable” by society’s standards.

    So having said that, there is a certain breed of woman that is bothered by this objectification yet cannot place her finger on it. She has learned to live with it and in many cases has taken fullest advantage of it. Yet when she is reminded of it she nonetheless becomes a little bit enraged inside.

  18. “Sexual attraction is not the same as sexual objectification”

    Could you expand on this distinction some? I’m particularly interested in the case of a man expressing his attraction through his body language to a woman he doesn’t know, for example, someone he sees in a public place like a bookstore. I’m thinking that part of the male gaze is expressed through nonverbal communication in general, and I’m trying to grasp where the line between expressing attraction and participating in public intimidation is.

  19. Sexual objectification in a social setting is a continued expression of verbal or non-verbal communication that is un-reciprocated. When I reason it out, this concept is nothing more than common courtesy.

    In reality the person expressing initial interest needs to understand that the feelings of the other person are equally important as his/her own. Again, common decency.

    Basically, people are individuals so I’m not going to point to different behaviors (beyond the obvious) and say if it’s going too far. I know both men and women have battle scars; I’m not discounting anybody’s experiences here.

    But I think on some level most guys know where the line is. How do I know this? Because men are also socialized to deal with “gazes” and other non-verbals toward or from other men. And despite the occasional gangster saying, “he looked at me wrong,” men manage to do just fine.

  20. […] things (or worse), and continue to be inculcated into a culture that forces women into roles as sex objects, submissives, and incompetents, and forces men into roles as morons, monsters, and […]

  21. Can I be sexually attracted to someone without knowing them, or is that objectification?

  22. Doesn’t the “objectification” problem seem more like personal immaturity in relationships? School age relationships are driven by selfish or shallow needs, whether the object is sex, status (going out with someone popular or famous), money, or simply trying on a lifestyle (dating a surfer or someone in a band, for example.) Sometimes it may be your personal dream of the perfect relationship or marriage.

    As people get older they (hopefully) mature and relate to others more as individuals. A lot of it requires confidence and self-knowledge that comes with age, if you’re paying attention and humble enough to learn. Obviously some people stay shallow (playas, golddiggers, etc.) but most grow up. I’m just not sure I see this connected to gender.

  23. oops that should should “seem more like personal immaturity.”

  24. Question: If it’s impossible to understand the thoughts and feelings of some people (posited by the concept of ‘privilege’) then how is empathy possible? And if it’s not, then how can people help but objectify with the unprivileged?

  25. I don’t think the concept of priviledge means that you can’t understand the thoughts and feelings of other people. It’s more about understanding your own priviledge and how that affects your understanding of the world.

    This has a good intro about priviledge if you are looking for one.

  26. Just a quick headsup to the admins that linked melted dreams article “But don’t you like to be objectified sometimes?” has gone AWOL, but is now available at http://ocw.usu.edu/English/english-1010/but-don2019t-you-like-to-be-objectified-sometimes.html

  27. On the issue of defining and understanding objectification, this article should do nicely. Also, a little bonus…it is based on a scientific study. To quote:

    “In the final part of the study, Fiske asked the men to fill in a questionnaire that was used to assess how sexist they were. The brain scans showed that men who scored highest had very little activity in the prefrontal cortex and other brain regions that are involved with understanding another person’s feelings and intentions. “They’re reacting to these women as if they’re not fully human,” Fiske said.”


  28. I find this a worthy societal topic of which ive yet not represented much of my thoughts in the past, and i want to point out my own view on the subject, and perhaps/hopefully diversify the concept with new ideas. I hope for serious partaking and criticism of my ideas, and i ask of those who plan to answer, to read what i write carefully, and hopefully a few times through to avoid misconceptions so my claims are not responded with misconceptive posts, derailing the conversation and presenting my claims as something which they are not (i strongly dislike such phenomenons and they tend to happen on the internet). This is a test post to see what happens. More text coming in the near future. Thank you.

  29. Also, i would like to ask how long may my post be at max? Because when i get into discussion, i prefer to do it well and that sometimes requires much text, and i would rather not write something long and then not have it published due to whatever reason, as apparently happened with kotztanza. I look forward to rewarding conversation 🙂

    • @Advancing Forms,

      The Comments Policy, as usual on any blog, is a good place to look for guidelines.

      Generally, and especially with new commentors, we ask that you make your points in 3 paragraphs (ish). Anything longer than that breaks the flow of discussion by provoking even longer responses, and eventually it gets too involved for people to engage with. If you feel that your ideas really do require “much text” to fully communicate, it is recommended that you put up a longer post on your own blog and then summarise just the key points here.

  30. “If you feel that your ideas really do require “much text” to fully communicate, it is recommended that you put up a longer post on your own blog ”

    Will do. I will provide a link for this thread. Look forward to reforming views.

  31. I think my favourite part of the comments section was when koztanza seemed to believe that objectification/ dehumanisation meant literally mistaking someone for a cardboard cutout or a doll.
    Ultimately, preventing objectification is not about actively discovering the hopes and dreams of the woman you’re looking at, but understanding that she has hopes and dreams at all. In words inspired from P!nk, she’s not just there for your entertainment! And if she is ( in a sexist/ objectifying ad, for example), there’s a problem with the ad.

  32. Either I can’t parse this or objectification is not considering their individuality and thus numerous characters from television (such as pretty much all action movie stars) are also being objectified. Thankfully we can divide men into action heroes (without noticeable personality, just a set of muscles and a gun) (their characters) and real men (the actors). Surely we can also divide women into porn stars (their characters) and real women (the actors) but pretend that only the former exists while watching the show? Arguing that it leaks over into the real world is the same argument for banning violent media.
    What really should be done is to encourage more mixed gender groups in schools. If men have a strong (as in it’s has tons of availability (see heuristics and biases)) model of women already then this model is going to overrule the porn start model.

  33. It just seems hypocritical that when speaking of objectification of women, the focus is on how women are “viewed” and the suggestion is less than human. THAT in itself is a form of objectification, the assumption first off that people mistreat others because they look down on them, AND that essentially how men view women is more important than how women view men. Objectification is a form of mistreatment of women. The objectifiers, typically men, ARE ACTING LESS THAN HUMAN. THEIR BEHAVIOR IS SUBHUMAN. The question is, how do we as women view men who objectify women? Do we see them as immoral? Immature? Stupid?

    I get tired of hearing the “objectification” of women, in the form of talking about women as if all that matters is what abusive men think of them. So every time a man mistreats a woman, her status is somehow lowered, while apparently the only thing wrong with men is that they have too much self-esteem. It’s demeaning to women.

  34. […] OBJECTIFICATION: Sexual objectification  is the viewing of people solely as de-personalised objects of desire instead of as individuals with complex personalities and desires/plans of their own. This is done by speaking/thinking of women especially as only their bodies, either the whole body, or as fetishised body parts. […]

  35. Only men can objectify women not the other way around. A woman can’t do anything to a man based on sexual objectifcation because a woman is powerless and always will be. Men are more powerfull and privilaged in everyway and forever, women cannot dehumanise anything since she doesnt have the power or privilage to do so, and never will have because she is a woman that is fact. The definiton of sexual objectification is what a man does to a woman. The female “gaze” is irrelevant and meaningless and most importantly powerless in all aspects it won’t affect even a 5 year old boy let alone a man with far more power and privilage than a woman can ever dream of let alone compare.

  36. The whole problem of trying to justify bad behavior, aka… objectification (primarily of women, but not 100% of the time)….is that it leads to justifying other bad behaviors, such as rape. After all, logically it would follow, if a woman is just an object, then its okay to do whatever one wants to her, with no fear of reprisal. (see also, the post “FAQ: if women like sex just as much as men do, then why is rape so bad? It’s just rougher sex, right?” This is just pure ignorance of the most dangerous variety. ANY touching, without the other party’s permission, is legally considered “assault”, and does not require it to be violent in nature, merely unwanted.

    This gets into the whole topic of male privilege…and note that I am NOT a man-hater, rather I think most men never think about these things or take them seriously, because THEIR lives are rarely, if ever, impacted by someone else treating them as either objects, or not worthy of having equal rights, because of their gender, hair color, weight, age, or attractiveness; or somehow “less than”. Unfortunately, most women are regularly dealing with all of these issues on every level of their lives, every day of their lives, and it impacts everything in their reality. THAT’s what the big deal is. It is at work, at home, in every interaction with every male in their families, and in society in general. Rare indeed is the heterosexual male who has a)any awareness whatsoever of this topic, and b)any clue that the women in their lives might feel this way. Is that her fault for not telling you? She is probably too fearful of reprisals. Or if she is strong enough to stand up for herself, she is labeled a “bitch”, a “whore”, a “slut”, or a “lesbian”, or just plain crazy. And generally becomes ostracized for doing so. Surprisingly often from other women, who are trying to help her learn how to survive.

    Male privilege guarantees most men never worry about their safety in any situation, other than obvious mechanical functions. They rarely ever get turned down for a promotion due to their sex, even if they are a parent of small children, or in their 50’s because it might affect their job performance. They never get paid less, simply because they are men. They never get called frigid if they don’t feel like having sex one night. They never are assumed to be too stupid to manage money, just because they are men. If they have young children at home, but want to go out to let loose, or let off steam, no one will call them an unfit parent. And they are not likely to get gang-raped because they are too independent and need to be “put in their place”.

  37. Tigtog, I love how directing someone to your commenting policy has earned you 14 thumbs down. Is this the misogynists’ way of letting us know that they’re totally open to reasonable discussion?

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