Cameron Diaz Tells Us: Women Want to Be Objectified

cameron-diazThe latest in controversial celebrity comments: Cameron Diaz, in the UK’s Sunday Times.

In a recent interview, the actress made a bold statement about the sexual objectification of women. In doing so, she offered up a glaring example of how an over-sexualized culture can influence the way women view themselves and their self-worth, and a classic case of self-objectification:

Says Diaz:

I think every woman does want to be objectified. There’s a little part of you at all times that hopes to be somewhat objectified, and I think it’s healthy…I’m a woman, I know how to handle myself. I know what I feel comfortable doing and I know my sexuality.

It’s empowering. I’m not some young girl with the photographer going, ‘Will you take your clothes off?’ I’m like, ‘How does this look?’ They’re like, ‘Today we’re not going to put anything other than bras and heels on you,’ and I’m like, ‘These heels are not high enough.'”

While many have their own opinions of what Cameron said and what her statements mean, her thoughts for me bring to mind a few ideas on the issue of female objectification.

Objectified Does Not Equal “Sexy”

Inherent in the definition of objectification is dehumanization and depersonalization. When a person is objectified, they are viewed as not a person but an object, lacking in humanity and merely a means to an end in satisfying the objectifier’s desires, usually sexual.

In other words, it’s not about you, your womanhood, or your attractiveness. It’s about what you — or rather, your body — can arouse in the viewer. Not anymore human than a well-made piece of art. All a sexually objectified woman is worth is her ability to entice and once that worth is lost, which it inevitably will be, her worth is also lost.

Objectification Is Not Empowerment

Cameron may believe that posing in undergarments and sky-high heels makes her a liberated and empowered 21st century woman but in fact it is just the opposite.

Having women flaunt their “sexiness” by displaying their bodies in very little clothing is our culture’s way of keeping women disempowered: at their mercy, with no power except what little may be given to her by men, for a short amount of time. In modern culture, the image of the disempowered woman is not the happy homemaker but Playboy’s Playmate of the Year.

Speak for Yourself, Then Stop

Do women like to be objectified? I haven’t done a worldwide survey, but my guesses are no. But whether they do or not is beside a major issue many have with Cameron’s statement — a person should never assume that their thoughts and desires are universal.

Had Cameron said that she alone enjoyed being objectified, perhaps she would have lost all credibility and been ridiculed, but her interview wouldn’t have been nearly as controversial. However, in extending her beliefs to every woman; insisting that they are reflective of all women, she entered into new territory. Claiming that every woman secretly hopes to be objectified and encouraging women to think of this desire as healthy is not only brazen but dangerous in a culture where women are still thought of as the lesser gender.

What do you think of Cameron Diaz’s statements? Agree or disagree?

See also:

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “Cameron Diaz Tells Us: Women Want to Be Objectified

  1. No, I don’t agree with her sweepingly erroneous statement. How can she possibly speak for the millions of other women on this planet? She should have chosen her words more carefully to reflect what you mentioned above, that her statement probably speaks only to her own needs and desires. She doesn’t know me and what I want, need, like, or dislike, so, no, she definitely does not speak for this woman. I don’t base my self-worth or my self-image on celebrities anyway. I get those things from my spiritual self.

  2. Okay before I start cleaning my home in preparation for hosting the Thanksgiving feast I’ll put my two cents in. As usually Miss Alee is on point; being appreciated as a sexually attractive being is healthy and is NOT the same thing as being objectified. Reducing a person to an object is a way to control them, not to celebrate them. I don’t have to take own Cameron’s words; she had never met me and cannot speak for me!

    Eat lots of turkey and appreciate yourselves as whole and delightfully sensual human beings!

  3. The thing is that society still sees beauty/attractiveness as woman’s most important values. If you have them, or think you have them, or see people praise you for it, yes, I suppose it can feel good. Maybe that’s what she thinks when she says all women want to be objectified?

    The problem is sexism and self-objectification, though. Cameron does not challenge these concepts but agree with them. She’s not much of an actress anyway, so she is where she is because of her looks and because of the fact people like to objectify her. So I say she’s a bit biased.

    But the whole “all women want…” is the worst. It’s a bad remark, and it’s even more troubling coming from a celebrity that many people want to imitate. So imagine a woman (or, worse, a girl) who likes Cameron and wants to be like her. The message is clear: to be objectified is the thing to aspire!

  4. Hi Annabelle’s mom, welcome. 🙂

    “How can she possibly speak for the millions of other women on this planet?…She doesn’t know me and what I want, need, like, or dislike”

    Agreed.

    This kind of seems like one of those closed-minded, “women/men are like this” blanket statements. People like to paint all people of a certain sex with one broad brush, and it rarely ends up well, or accurate.

    In this case she isn’t making such a harmless statement. She has a public platform, so many have heard this… what if men start thinking women like to be objectified and overstep their boundaries?

    Sherry,

    “Reducing a person to an object is a way to control them, not to celebrate them.”

    Yes, way to put it succinctly. It seems some can’t tell the difference.

    Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

  5. Mira,

    Some people were making that argument: that she is just trying to say that woman like to be considered attractive and sexy. My thought is: well why didn’t she just say that? It’s not like she couldn’t have used those words instead. I’m going to take her statement as is — she used the word objectified because that’s what she meant. The way she described it, it seemed to have an element of objectification too.

    “Cameron does not challenge these concepts but agree with them. She’s not much of an actress anyway, so she is where she is because of her looks and because of the fact people like to objectify her.”

    What looks? 😉

    I’m tempted to think she is simply trying to remain relevant with all this bras and heels stuff because she’s 40 now and there isn’t much room for mediocre actresses over 30.


    Nkosazana,

    “I frankly don’t really care what Cameron Diaz says about anything ^^”

    I don’t either. But her statements were just too much to bear. I had so many thoughts on it, so I had to write it down.

    “She’s a so called person of colour in America right?”

    No, she’s considered white because she looks white.

  6. Soledad isn’t considered black really, it’s just understood that she has black ancestry. But your average person on the street would not view her the same as, say, Obama. On a scale though, she is more obviously mixed than Cameron; to me she doesn’t look white. But back on-topic. 🙂

  7. I could be wrong, but when I read this headline, I immediately agreed with Cameron Diaz as I’m assuming she meant having sex appeal to most if not all of the opposite sex. I know as a womanist, that it puts an extra swish in my step if I know, eg, the guys on the trading floor where I work find we appealing, although I would never date most if not all of them because they’re right materialistic dogs. As far as I heard though, I’m known as having the best butt and trust, this does not make me feel belittled. AT. ALL!.

  8. “when I read this headline, I immediately agreed with Cameron Diaz as I’m assuming she meant having sex appeal to most if not all of the opposite sex.”

    The main problem is that this is not what the word “objectified” means. Not even in the slightest.

    If that’s what Cameron thought it meant, I guess that’s why people should only use words they know the meaning of, especially in a press interview.

  9. …but she goes on to explain what she meant, so I think “we’re” taking the word “objectification” literally and objecting to it, without reading further what she’s trying to say.

  10. What she said after that could be taken as objectification though. It doesn’t have to be, but especially in light of her already using the term, it would seem that way.

  11. This very issue is something that as a therapist I try to support women with everyday. When a woman has been sexually abused or pushed into a life of prostitution or other profession that “objectifies” her as a human being, then it really is a mind f*&@k to untangle the societal messages about women, their bodies and self identity. Alee you are so astute in your observations. This discussion runs deep into some very important areas of our lives as women. This becomes more an issue for me as I watch my young daughter begin to deal with the hyper sexualized images of young actors on TV and in the media and try to convince her that “showcasing” her body is different than looking attractive! Try to explain THAT to a young girl. I simply appreciate the forum you have created Alee to allow people to look closer at this issue and discuss it with others. It makes a difference.

  12. Hi Tamara, welcome. You’re welcome and I’m glad you do the work you do too. It makes a huge difference as well.

  13. I think she was speaking from a place of (white & female) privilege. As a black woman (post slavery [yes post slavery] and in the era of hip hop /rap culture) trying to establish a professional career, I have NEVER harboured a desire to be objectified at work or in my personal life, compounded by the fact that I have had to deal with sexual innuendos and sexual references including unsolicited advice on my sex life – at the office, all cleverly done within the limits and thereby avoiding sexual harassment claims. I have had to find the balance between dressing and acting in a manner that makes me feel attractive and/or sexy but innocuous enough to ensure my work is and remains the focus. The last thing I want is to be objectified! Do I want to appear sexy and appealing at work and at play? Yes. But objectified by men? No.
    Additionally, as a black woman I believe that the hip hop/rap culture with music videos that objectify black women has contributed to and set a bad precedent for the hyper-sexualisation of black women. As a black woman I am apparently only relevant for one thing – sex. I do not matter as a human being, as a professional, as a woman, relative, friend etc. There is nothing sexy, liberating or empowering about that.
    The reason I said she spoke from a place of (white & female) privilege – white women have not always been represented in the same wanton or lecherous light as black women, they have often (and still are) afforded respectful and protective narratives as women, wives, mothers, daughters and sisters. Hence the reason Cameron can make such an illogical statement without engaging her cerebral cortex sufficiently and with insufferable arrogance she coated a personal desire with generalisation.

  14. Hi sochai,

    Good points you made there. Women who know what it’s like to be objectified would never wish that upon anyone. I also think that because of Cameron’s position she doesn’t have to worry as much about how being objectified could taint her image.

    “Cameron can make such an illogical statement without engaging her cerebral cortex sufficiently and with insufferable arrogance she coated a personal desire with generalisation.”

    Lol! That more or less sums it up. 🙂

  15. Cameron Diaz needs to make use of a dictionary. It seems as if she has a different concept in mind when using this word. Her focus is on sexuality and being in control of any photo shoot. She decides just how much she wants to reveal to the world and in what fashion she will do it. Now if making money off of some mouth breather who desires to catch a glimpse of some of her ‘side-boob’ is empowered then she certainly is. I suppose if ones ultimate goal in life is to make as much money as possible then anything one can do to reach their goal is empowering.

  16. Froggie,

    “Cameron Diaz needs to make use of a dictionary.”

    Yes, but it is doubtful she will, or ever has in the recent past.

    “Now if making money off of some mouth breather who desires to catch a glimpse of some of her ‘side-boob’ is empowering then she certainly is.”

    *dead* at “mouth breather”. It’s funny to imagine, but it’s still very sad that she would want this.

  17. After posting a comment online against objectification of women a guy posted in response as a put down to me that I would never be objectified. I was stunned and shocked and offended at first but then I thought thank you! I think I envy those who are being objectified but I really don’t. Because what I want more than anything is to be loved and respected. I found out it starts with the self first! Sure I want to be thought of as pretty but that is not everything. Being absorbed in ones body is like obsessing about clothes. I am not my body. My body is just something my spirit wears.

  18. Late-Bloomer,

    “After posting a comment online against objectification of women a guy posted in response as a put down to me that I would never be objectified.”

    Why? You’re beautiful (and a kind person). He was obviously just butthurt that someone isn’t fond of something he is.

    Anyway, I agree — being objectified is hardly something to aspire to.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s