Objectification Is Not Equal Opportunity

male-objectificationHaving previously discussed objectification of women and the female beauty bind, I was once asked the question, “What about men? Shouldn’t men be included in this topic? To which my first thought was “Yes, what about them?”

In the interest of fairness (or in other cases, diversion), some believe that the increasing sexual objectification of men should be considered along with the well-known issue of female objectification. After all, there are male strippers and prostitutes, the bodybuilding industry is held afloat almost entirely by men, and plastic surgery among men is at an all-time high. This is true — more than ever before, men are being judged and assessed for how well their appearance fits a certain beauty standard.

However, objectification, and particularly sexual objectification requires that a person be seen as simply a vessel or a painting — to be admired primarily or solely for their beauty and the physical pleasure it brings, with no regard to their humanity. Are men made into objects whose worth is based on their looks? Perhaps on an individual basis, but on a wider scale, my answer would be no.

Appearance may matter, but other factors come into play in determining whether a man is “high value” or not. Personality, confidence, education, and of course career and income. All of these factors can and do override a man’s physical appearance, and looks are not generally considered more important. The same simply can not be said for women and their daily experiences.

On the other hand, as a group, women are sexually objectified — that is, their sexual attractiveness and beauty (or subjective lack of) is considered to be one of the more important aspects of their being, if not the most important. Personality, charm, and other attributes are considered later, if ever. Any woman knows this; regardless of any personal accomplishments, the first question to be asked is, “But is she good-looking?” If the answer is no, then everything else about her falls by the wayside. If the answer is yes, then again, all other traits are overshadowed. That is the definition of objectification.

So again, what about men? Male sexual objectification is on the rise, and shouldn’t be dismissed. Men getting regular eyebrow waxes and pedicures can be considered a topic of interest. But the issue is simply nowhere near that of women — there are more pressing issues for men in today’s society. In other words, sexual objectification is not equal opportunity.

What do you think — agree or disagree? Share your thoughts below.

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22 thoughts on “Objectification Is Not Equal Opportunity

  1. So if men are objectified why do beautiful women choose rich, powerful men of high status as a mate, even when they are as ugly as sin?
    My female friend says she was attracted to me because of my intelligence, personality and humour. Now she knows me better it is because I am kind gentle and considerate and fantastic between the sheets. She isn’t looking for someone to father her children and isn’t bothered about wealth and status. So I guess I have found a real gem. Shame she’s avoidant!

  2. Billy, right, I think men can be objectified, just not usually in the way that people think of objectification, i.e. sexual objectification. If you like someone because they’re wealthy, that could also be considered objectification, just not of the sexual type.

  3. You are right; it is not equal opportunity, and it never will be. I think the best way for women to negate it’s effects it by finding a physical activity (dance, exercise, or sports) that they enjoy and make it a priority to participate in regularly so that they have a sense of their bodies being capable. That is the best antidote ever.

  4. Sexual objectification is a by-product of sexism. And like with any form of oppression, there are two levels to be considered: a personal (individual) one and a larger (institutionalized) one.

    In this sense, men CAN be sexually objectified by women. It’s very easy to slip into it, especially when it comes to celebrities and men you know nothing about. Heck, I encourage women, especially young ones, to recognize this. We all know young girls (teens) often have very strong sexual fantasies about men, but society don’t see these as acceptable, so they are encouraged to hide this basic-sexual attraction into fantasies about marriage and what not. I say, nothing wrong about wanting someone sexually, especially when it comes to celebrity crushes which are common with teens. It’s better to understand the attraction than to fool yourself into thinking you like him because “he’s a good person”.

    But on a larger, institutionalized level, no, sexual objectification of men doesn’t exist. Men ARE being encouraged these days to pay more attention to their physical appearance, grooming and what not, and I do believe ugly men might have more trouble finding a date than the handsome ones.

    However, men are still seen as fully human. They are seen as individuals whose most important trait is their beauty/attractiveness. While with women, beauty is STILL the most important trait a woman can have. Intelligence, competence, work ethnic, etc. , they’re all good, but beauty is still seen as the number one prize a woman can have. There’s a still billion and billion dollar industry that operates around the idea that a woman’s main quality is to be pretty (attractive, groomed, well dressed, etc. – it all goes into it), and if she isn’t, it hurts her chances in many areas of life. This can’t be compared to what men experience, even if some of them do experience drawbacks for not being attractive.

    All you need to do is couples. You see attractive women with “ugly” men all the time. Fair enough, you also see plenty of couples where both people are on the same attractiveness level. But God forbid a handsome man has a wife who is on a “lower” level than he is.

    Just look at Internet for all the shit people say about Cooba Gooding Jr’s, Hugh Jackman’s, Clive Owen’s and Cillian Murphy’s wives. (Not to mention it’s often women who say these things, which is a problem on itself).

  5. Sherry,

    I do think it would help if women thought more of their bodies than just how it looks to other people/themselves. Women’s bodies are more than just how “hot” they look.

  6. Great comment Mira. 🙂

    “Sexual objectification is a by-product of sexism.”

    Agreed.

    I also agree that on an individual level, men can be objectified. Anyone who has spent any time here knows I’m very fond of gorgeous men ( 😉 ). But this is very much a me thing, and many people think I’m weird. Ha.

    “(Not to mention it’s often women who say these things, which is a problem on itself).”

    Women play a huge role in objectifying themselves. It is a cultural thing; it’s ingrained in society. Women are taught that women are supposed to look good, so that’s what they focus on. And I think it makes some women feel superior if another woman is considered less attractive. They can think, “Well, I may not be perfect, but at least I’m not her!”

  7. I just can’t be arse to feel any empathy for those very very very very very very very very few men who find themselves being objectified. Bugger them!. Like Mira stated: Sexual objectification is a by-product of sexism. And like with any form of oppression, there are two levels to be considered: a personal (individual) one and a larger (institutionalized) one. Poor random guy who finds himself the object of a woman’s fantasy!. I feel soooo sworry for him that he walks around with his chest all puffed up, telling all who would listen that some woman finds him hot!.

    In light of the feminist/womanist movement, I wonder why this still happens and in my observation has gotten even worse?: Women play a huge role in objectifying themselves. It is a cultural thing; it’s ingrained in society. Women are taught that women are supposed to look good, so that’s what they focus on. And I think it makes some women feel superior if another woman is considered less attractive. They can think, “Well, I may not be perfect, but at least I’m not her!”

  8. “Just look at Internet for all the shit people say about Cooba Gooding Jr’s, Hugh Jackman’s, Clive Owen’s and Cillian Murphy’s wives. (Not to mention it’s often women who say these things, which is a problem on itself).’

    I agree. i think women can be a bigger problem than men in how they criticize other women .

    I have a friend who is in her fifties and in a relationship with a man 15 years her junior. They have been together over 12 years and he adores her; he was in his late twenties when they first became a couple. This guy is a stunningly handsome man: tall, blond, great body, beautiful features and eyes. He is also aging very well, so he is still turning heads in his early forties. I have noticed that women are the ones who make negative comments about their relationship. They “wonder” out loud why a handsome guy like that would choose an older woman when so many younger women want him. Many younger women have tried to break up their relationship but they have so far been unsuccessful. One of those women was a (former) friend of mine who did everything to try to tempt the guy, including showing up at his apartment naked under her coat.

    Women will complain about being sexually objectified, but they are also very willing to use their looks and sexuality when it benefits them, especially when they are competing against other women for relationships or employment.

    I objectify men; there are lots of handsome men that I have sexual fantasies about, but I would never want to have a meaningful relationship with them. I don’t think that is a bad thing.

    Physical beauty in a man is very important to me. I could never marry a man whom I do not consider physically attractive, no matter how wonderful he is. I know that we women are expected to overlook a man’s physical appearance but I just can’t do it. I can’t enjoy sex with a man that I find unattractive and good sex is an important part of a relationship for me.

  9. foosrock,

    “Poor random guy who finds himself the object of a woman’s fantasy!. I feel soooo sworry for him that he walks around with his chest all puffed up, telling all who would listen that some woman finds him hot!”

    LOL!

    It’s true, it seems many of the men who are what could be considered objectified, like it. Probably because it’s not a general thing — usually people don’t place so much emphasis on a man’s beauty. So I guess they figure if people are talking about their appearance, they must be exceptional! 🙂

    “In light of the feminist/womanist movement, I wonder why this still happens and in my observation has gotten even worse?”

    Despite feminism, sexism is still around and has only changed with the times. Feminism was and is going against the status quo, and most people just don’t want to do that. It’s easier to just do what people expect of you, and be loved and accepted by them, than to go against the grain. Also remember that lots of women were never on board with feminism and some even hate it.

  10. ann,

    “Women will complain about being sexually objectified, but they are also very willing to use their looks and sexuality when it benefits them, especially when they are competing against other women for relationships or employment.”

    Yes; being the “beauty” brings benefits, so why change it? Unless there were other ways to advance in society, most women will go with the default.

    “I objectify men; there are lots of handsome men that I have sexual fantasies about, but I would never want to have a meaningful relationship with them. I don’t think that is a bad thing.”

    Lol, see my objectification is just much more… noble. At least I’ll consider these beautiful men relationship material. 😛

    Just kidding, but if a guy has a terrible personality, I just can’t find him attractive, even if I initially did, based on his appearance alone. There are a lot of beautiful jerks out there.

  11. “There are a lot of beautiful jerks out there.”

    So true. Which is why many of those men are just fantasies for me. A nice personality is required IN ADDITION TO physical attractiveness. A guy can quickly become unattractive to me if he turns out to be a jerk. But a nice personality does not make an unattractive guy look good to me. I can care about him, like in the way I care about a male relative. But I can’t feel that romantic spark. I really wish it were not so. In this regard, I think my brain is wired like a man’s. I am very visual and I need to like what I see in a man who is a potential mate. Of course, beauty is subjective and a man who turns my head may not get a second look from many other women. I will probably end up like Joan Collins and Tina Turner (partnered with much younger men) because I don’t like the way that many men let themselves go as they age.

  12. Frankly, I think the whole thing about women not being visual is misogynistic crap. People are different. Not all women are turned on by the same things. I am very visual when it comes to this, but I can also be turned on by a deep, masculine voice. It’s individual.

    Using your physical appearance to your advantage and playing on this card is not something I like and I don’t do it (I’m not considered attractive by my culture’s standards anyway), but I can totally understand why women do it. It’s very difficult and often impossible to go against the world. Some women choose not to shave their legs and I’m ok with it, but many (rightfully) conclude that they can do it but that they can’t expect to be treated the same by society and potential sexual partners. Some don’t care about it, some do.

    The thing is, it’s impossible to ignore those rules, even if you choose to break them. Some women conclude that it’s easier not to and they go with it. I can understand that.

    Re: Sexual attractiveness. I agree with ann. Great personality is not enough for me. I need to be physically attracted to a guy. He doesn’t need to be “conventionally handsome”. I often liked guys who weren’t, but it was important to me that I’m attracted to him physically. Nobody needs to think he’s sexy, but I have to or else I won’t be able to fall for him, let alone to have sex with him.

    I see nothing wrong with it. Of course, the guy should feel the same about me. I never wanted someone who’s attracted to my personality only. No. It’s not worth it if you’re not physically attracted to me. I’ve been in a relationship with a guy who didn’t find me attractive and it was a mess.

    Obviously, physical attraction is not enough to form a relationship; the other person has to have a good personality and you two have to click. I’m just saying there also has to be physical attraction for it to work.

  13. ann,

    “a nice personality does not make an unattractive guy look good to me. I can care about him, like in the way I care about a male relative. But I can’t feel that romantic spark. I really wish it were not so.”

    Yes, it’s kind of sad. Some guys can have the best personalities, but if the looks are not there, I just can’t do it.

    “I will probably end up like Joan Collins and Tina Turner (partnered with much younger men) because I don’t like the way that many men let themselves go as they age.”

    Lol, I thought I was the only one.

    When I’m married, I hope my husband never gets “old”, because I do like younger-looking men. I’m still relatively young right now, so it works. But when I’m 45+, I wonder if my tastes will change. If not, I’ll be in trouble! I don’t even like beards/noticeable facial hair.

    @Ann and Mira,

    I love how on a post on how men are not generally sexually objectified, we completely turn to sexually objectifying men. We’re great. 😀

  14. Totally funny, Alee. And trust, you won’t find men complaining about being objectified because they bask in this as everything is stack to their advantage, the heathens!. So let’s continue our objectification………

  15. Sexual Objectification is a component of human nature, and so is racism short of changing human nature neither are ever going to end. And on the subject of sexual objectification, i will be so bold as to say. It isn’t the problem…it’s the inability or the unwillingness to a person as a person. because every human alive objectifies other human beings. Some will argue that they don’t. They are either ignorant or lying to themselves or others. If you fantasize about someone in any form; you have objectified them. When you fantasizes about someone, you are projecting your own thoughts and feeling onto them. and this is something that people don’t stop doing until they get to know the subject of their fantasies. it’s the people who refuse to discard their fantasies and acknowledge the humanity of their fellows that are the problem.

  16. Ubaydullah,

    “Sexual Objectification is a component of human nature, and so is racism short of changing human nature neither are ever going to end.”

    Disagree. Racism is not a component of human nature, since race hasn’t always existed. Perhaps clannish tendencies are a facet of human nature, but that is not racism.

    “every human alive objectifies other human beings. Some will argue that they don’t….If you fantasize about someone in any form; you have objectified them. When you fantasizes about someone, you are projecting your own thoughts and feeling onto them.”

    Projecting feelings does not equal sexual objectification though…does have to have anything to do with it.

  17. Sexism,Racism,Religionism. Are merely flavors of a deeper human issue/attitude. Which I call Groupism! So why are people Groupist because the trait is beneficial. Everything that people see as bad about ism, treating those that are out side ones own group. With at best dismissiveness and at worst hostility. Is the logical outcome of the Groupist attitude, which is viewing those outside ones group as less valuable. Once someone is seen as not as valuable as you and yours; lack of respect and contempt are soon to follow. What makes Groupism beneficial is this. One day the survival of you and yours may well dependance upon you exploiting or harming others. If you saw the others as equally valuable to your own you would be reluctant to harm them. Groupism of any flavor, is so hard to deal with because it’s linked to the human self preservation instinct.

    All objectification entails Fantasizing about a person. You are projecting your feeling and thoughts and beliefs on to another person. Until you get to know someone they are just an object in the background to you. The problem comes when someone is unwilling to see another as more than an object.

  18. Your eyes rolled so loudly that i heard them,despite text being a non-audible medium. Please just think about what I said.

    Most campaigns to fix some societal ill focus on the symptoms rather than the cause. And the cause is human nature. Social engineering to correct human behavior can do a lot; however it can not go far enough. The Only way to eliminate social problems would be to alter the aspects of human nature that are the cause of those problems; however once you have away to change human nature how would you stop that ability from being abused? In your own words human are “clannish”. The point is that your “clan”. Isn’t just your family/tribe, it’s any group to which you happen to belong. We all want the best for our Clan. And we’re willing exploit other clans to insure the survival and prosperity of ours.

    A component of the Clannishness is Humanities innate and subconscious bias and nepotism. We behave most favorably towards those that we perceive as being like ourselves,and negatively towards those that aren’t. As well as righting the rules of society to favor the group that holds the majority of the power. Just as history is written by the victor,so are the laws.

    And that revelation made me become something of an Anarchist. It doesn’t matter who you give the power in a society to because they’ll inevitably start screwing over everybody not them.

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