Sep 29, 2012

Sexual Objectification: Part 1

I like to be sexually objectified.  Except that I don't.  Not in what that term really means.  Have you ever looked it up?

Objectification: depersonalization - representing a human being as a physical thing deprived of personal qualities or individuality;

I even found this from a Stanford article:

Objectification is a notion central to feminist theory. It can be roughly defined as the seeing and/or treating a person, usually a woman, as an object. In this entry, the focus is primarily on sexual objectification, objectification occurring in the sexual realm. Martha Nussbaum (1995, 257) has identified seven features that are involved in the idea of treating a person as an object:
  1. instrumentality: the treatment of a person as a tool for the objectifier's purposes;
  2. denial of autonomy: the treatment of a person as lacking in autonomy and self-determination;
  3. inertness: the treatment of a person as lacking in agency, and perhaps also in activity;
  4. fungibility: the treatment of a person as interchangeable with other objects;
  5. violability: the treatment of a person as lacking in boundary-integrity;
  6. ownership: the treatment of a person as something that is owned by another (can be bought or sold);
  7. denial of subjectivity: the treatment of a person as something whose experiences and feelings (if any) need not be taken into account.
Rae Langton (2009, 228–229) has added three more features to Nussbaum's list:
  1. reduction to body: the treatment of a person as identified with their body, or body parts;
  2. reduction to appearance: the treatment of a person primarily in terms of how they look, or how they appear to the senses;
  3. silencing: the treatment of a person as if they are silent, lacking the capacity to speak.
The whole article is interesting but it is seriously confusing, derogatory, against pornography, and hard to fit into the lesbian dynamic- especially with how femmes feel about their bodies, their gender, and their sexuality.

Point being: I don't like the depersonalization aspect of objectification.  I love that I am an intelligent, opinionated, respectful, witty woman.  I love when people recognize those qualities in me, and I don't want those qualities to be lost or pushed aside so I am viewed purely as an object to be used for sexual gratification.  I refuse to be treated "as if I lack the capacity to speak."

But I do want those wonderful qualities of mine to step into the background occasionally.  I find it thrilling, arousing, to have all thoughts of how sweet or smart I am fly out the window because of an all consuming sexual desire.  Perhaps this is because I have always felt pretty, not sexy.  Perhaps it is because I have always felt body conscious.  But there is something about when someone turns to me with that heat in the eyes that makes me tingle all over.

Even when I'm not attracted to that person, I'll find myself doing little things to keep up the crush.  I'll dress nicer, keep up my makeup, make an effort.  My smiles are a little slower, my eyes a little warmer, my blouse a little more low cut.

Is it teasing?  Is it wrong?  Am I not supposed to do it? I've never really seen the problem in looking my best.  As long as I'm not flirting I don't feel like I'm leading anyone on.  I'm careful to not give the wrong impression, careful to not say anything that would be interpreted as interested in a date, but I'm a flirtatious person by normally, so I have to cut back and I can't say I've never accidentally slipped.  What do you think?  Is the body language too much?  Am I being unfair to the other person?

Am I, in turn, objectifying/using someone else as he/she/z sexualizes me, in order to boost my own self esteem?  Do you think this is a better or worse form of objectification?  Do you enjoy when your body is sexualized by strangers, acquaintances, your partner?  Or do you prefer that your mental attributes be your sexiest qualities?

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