Objectification is one of those topics I love to discuss. Between the different, cultures, religions and gender roles out there, there are a lot of opinions. In June, I asked who is responsible for objectification. If a woman wears a mini-skirt, is she ‘asking for it’? Should she expect objectification or only dress that way if she wishes to be objectification?
As Weight3Lose2013 pointed out in a related blog post, a person chooses to wear certain things expecting something. Whether consciously or otherwise, choosing to wear a mini-skirt vs. jeans out in public is a choice on how you want to be perceived. The problem is, what the person expects and what other people assume they expect are often two different things. When it comes to women, who are under a lot of pressure to be beautiful (a pressure which is increasingly put on men as well), wearing a mini-skirt to a bar or a bikini to the beach may simply be the clothes they think they look beautiful in. They might not be dressing for attention, even if people who look at them think they are.
Either way, they don’t deserve to be objectified. Objectification is disrespectful. The more I explore the phenomena, the more I am convinced it has more to do with class and equality then the clothes a person wears. This is easy see when we look at countries where women are seen as less than men. Many have rules about how women can dress, forcing them to be well covered at all times. Despite how covered the women are, typical rates of rape and violence against women are far higher than other countries. This objectification, viewing women as nothing more than an object, has nothing to do with dress and everything to do with how human and equal society views her to be.
I use women for all these examples because it’s what I know. There are so many examples to choose from, many of which people have some familiarity with. Abbie’s Tree House then pointed out others who are often objectified, such as waiters, waitresses and janitors.
These are people who are often seen as being on the bottom of the societal food chain. After thinking about it, I’ve come to realize these and similar occupations are just as objectified. While they may not be seen as sex objects, they still face the disgrace of being treated sub-human. They’re job is to serve people, to clean up their messes and attend to their demands. A person using their services can either be mindful of their humanity or act with complete disregard. After all, it doesn’t matter how big of a mess they make or how rude they are. Their server will still have to put a smile on their face and serve them.
Do you ever stop to consider the humanity of your server or janitor? What about the umpire of a baseball game? There are probably many other examples out there of people who face a lot of rudeness and abuse because they are seen more as objects than people.
It makes me wonder if objectification is a sort of defense mechanism. Is it possible to treat a person like they are below you without also objectifying them? Are there situations where it’s easier to objectify then it is to accept a person as human.
One of my good friends, Nerd of the Sands, once told be about a stripper he knew. He explained the objectification there goes both way. While we all know the stripper is probably being objectified, something that allows those in attendance to get the sexual entertainment they desire without thinking about the woman as a person, with children to feed, bills to pay and a family who loves her. At the same time, the stripper objectifies the audience, seeing them as money machines, and not a people who might be lonely, hurting or going through a rough break up. On both sides, I think the objectification happens here because they stripper wouldn’t be able to do their job and the audience wouldn’t be able to enjoy the performance without objectification.
I think we should add occupations and classes to the discussion on objectification. People who are too used to objectification of women being acceptable don’t always understand the issue. Perhaps pointing out all the different people who are dehumanized for one reason or another would be beneficial. Like a lot of feminist and gender issues, objectification expands beyond women and gender. It’s not an issue that is specific to one gender or another. Gender is too simple of an answer. More than anything else, I think objectification has more to do with how equal one person thinks they are to another. It just so happens that women throughout history have long been seen as below men, which is why there are so many examples of female objectification. It’s time to expand that, though. It’s time to include all the people who are treated like machines or objects instead of human.
No matter what a person’s gender, occupation or lot in life, they are still human. They still deserve just as much dignity and respect as anyone else.
I’ve mentioned women, servers, janitors and umpires. Do you think there are any other occupations that are frequently treated as sub-human? What can a person do if they see a person being objectified? Outside of gender equality, which can only help with gender-based objectification, what do you think would need to happen to erase objectification of those in certain occupations?