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:
“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?