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?

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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.

10 Ways to Objectify Men

objectifying-menEver wonder how exactly a man can be sexually objectified? Wonder no longer.

As the unofficial queen of sexual objectification of men and long-time devotee of the male form, I’ve decided to share some ways for women to objectify men.

These aren’t the only ways to sexually objectify men, but are a beginner’s course on the road to appreciating male beauty, at the expense of male humanity.

…Only for laughs, of course.

1. Say to a man, “Well, your butt looks great in those pants!”

2. While driving, honk your horn at men on the street who you find attractive. When they look your way, give an enthusiastic thumbs up.

3. As a passenger in a car, stick your head out of the window and whistle or yell “Hey, cutie” as you drive by.

4. Look down at a man’s shoes and exclaim, “Wow, your feet are big!” If you happen to be with a female friend, look at her, then add, “Does your brother have big feet too?”

5.  When an attractive man walks into the room, gasp, “Dear God.” Leave your mouth hanging open for a few minutes.

6. Make a list of the most attractive features in men. Publish it on the internet.

7. Play the ratings game with your female friends, preferably in a public space. Have fun disagreeing — “He’s a 9.”, “No way, he’s more 7ish.”

8. Make ogling men a daily activity. Complain to your friends and family that you want to stop, but you simply can’t help it.

9. Compliment a guy’s shirt: “Hey, cool shirt!” Wait a few seconds. With a serious face, add, “I just wish it were tighter. Much tighter.”

10.  Pull out a magazine and ask a man nearby, “Who do you think looks better, this guy or this one?” If he gives you a weird look, ask, “What? Can’t you recognize male beauty?”

Are Men More Visual Than Women?

men-visual
It’s one of those things that everybody knows — men are more visual than women. The proof is all around us. Pornography caters to men as their most loyal consumers, some studies show physical attractiveness of their partner is more important to men’s happiness than women’s. The physical just matters to men.

Meanwhile women are more attracted to a man’s personality, such as his sense of humor, and his ability to provide and be a good father to their potential children. Evidence for this is seen in women’s willingness to happily engage in relationships with men who aren’t generally considered the most physically appealing.

But what if the conventional wisdom is wrong, as it has been in the past? What if the idea of men being more visual has little basis in reality, or what if the gender inequalities in visual arousal have their origins in culture and society, not in biology? When looked at critically, there are several reasons why the commonly accepted idea that men are innately more visual should be questioned:

1. There is greater social acceptance and encouragement for men to value physical appearance

Historically women needed to value more than a man’s appearance. Since they couldn’t have jobs that would sustain themselves and any family they would have, women had to look to a man’s financial ability and ability as a father when choosing a mate. Men who were more financially stable could focus on other qualities in a potential mate, such as their physical appearance.

Nowadays women have more career opportunities. But differences in society’s appraisal of the genders remain — men are still expected to be able to provide financially for their wives and family. And women are still expected to be pretty enough to secure a marriage with the most financially able man.

2. Some studies challenge the idea that men are more visual

Most studies that gain popularity reinforce conventional wisdom. Thus there are easily found studies which support the idea that men are more visually stimulated than women are. Much rarely discussed are the studies which conflict with this notion.

One of the more recent studies on gender and visual stimulation found that women are as visually responsive as men are. In the study, the brains of female participants showed as much activity as the male participants when shown sexually erotic images. Researchers responded that although men might personally rate sexual images higher than women do, there was no difference in their brain activity when viewing them.

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What’s Wrong With PUA?

pick-up-artists

A short while ago I published a post about PUA, short for Pick-Up Artists, a male seduction community, and my personal experience with a PUA. Since then I’ve received comments and emails on a regular basis which question, or more often, disagree with, my position that PUA is not only manipulative but pathetic.

I’ve responded to most of these comments and questions, but they continue to come in. Some are confused and some simply want further explanation but all wonder the same thing — what’s wrong with PUA? So in the sake of brevity, I’ll detail here why I dislike and disagree with PUA and its methods:

1. PUA is based on manipulation

Pick-Up Artists techniques are pure manipulation: they are designed to coerce women into thinking and doing what they otherwise wouldn’t. PUA techniques are mind games which attempt to overturn the unfair advantage that PUAs believe women have in dating and turn it into an unfair advantage for men.

Some may counter that all forms of courting and dating involve manipulation. However, PUA methods are willful and conscious manipulations — power-play with clear-cut “winners” and “losers”, not simply ways to make oneself more attractive to women. Natural mating rarely involves the same level of deceit.

2. PUA is objectifying

While the male Pick-Up Artist feels more attractive and empowered by his ability to secure his “target”, the target of his manipulations is dehumanized. PUA is also known as “The Game” because PUAs treat their methods and the women they target as nothing more than a game to be won at all costs.

This can be seen in PUA lingo such as “Bait, Hook, Reel, Release” and “Compliance Threshold”, a measure of a woman’s willingness to go along with the PUA’s plans of sexual activity. PUAs don’t see women as humans like them, but pawns in their chess game of ego gratification.

3. PUA is sexist and misogynist

In case it’s not apparent at this point, any dating method founded on the belief that women are difficult to deal and confused, and must be manipulated into agreeing with what they “really” want, is sexist.

Any dating methods which are based on making a woman feel insecure and question her principles is misogynist. And any so-called seduction which refers to women as “targets”, at best, and “bitches” to be broken down, at worst, is misogynist. There is just no way around that.

4.  PUA is about ego and selfishness

Pick-Up Artists claim and try to convince themselves that their techniques are about attaining a mutually beneficial relationship. Yet it is clear by the amount of manipulation and objectification involved that the well-being of women is not a priority. And the self-esteem and satisfaction of male PUAs is a priority, if not the only one.

In other words, if PUA methods were so obviously beneficial to all involved, then why would they require so much trickery?

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Women and the Beauty Bind

woman-foot-chainsThe beauty bind is the dilemma that nearly every woman around the world, young or old, past or present, faces in their life. You probably already know a lot about the beauty bind or at least have some experience with it. The beauty binds refers to the fact that women are judged on their appearance no matter what. Whether the judgment is positive, negative, or neutral, there is no avoiding it.

Times have changed somewhat — the modern man also has to deal with being judged on his physical appearance. But his physical appearance is not used as a gauge of his worth and value as a person. Unlike men, who can be considered desirable based on other traits — a remarkable personality or bank account — a woman is judged mainly (and sometimes only) on her looks. Other parts of her may be considered, but only once her appearance is assessed for its worthiness.

The beauty bind is inescapable because whether or not a woman chooses to play the beauty game she is a contestant. And whether she is deemed attractive or not, her looks are used as a way give to or take away from her womanhood.

The Unattractive

A woman who is considered unattractive is denied her full femininity and power as a woman. She can be as intelligent and interesting as she wants, but if her physical appearance is judged as lacking, she is judged as lacking. After all, a true woman is pretty and feminine.

If she is particularly accomplished, her looks become a way to take away from her achievements. She is ridiculed and portrayed as less than — she might be worldly successful, but she’s still an ugly woman and that evens the score. Men and women alike are reassured by this and take solace in the fact that she doesn’t have it all.

The Beautiful

A woman who is assessed as particularly beautiful is also denied her full womanhood. She is made into a caricature and is not taken as seriously. Her looks are made the primary focus of her being; nothing else is as important. Others assume she has cruised by in life and doesn’t have much to offer besides good looks. Any successes she has are viewed in light of her physical appearance and given lesser value.

Although the beautiful woman is given certain advantages, she is also disadvantaged. Men and women envy the advantages she is given and women, who are also caught in the beauty bind, judge her even more harshly than men do. They too want to be considered part of the Beautiful Elite, but if they can’t, they can have some power over beautiful women by becoming their worst critics.

Few people discuss the beauty bind as it has become woven into the fabric that makes up most societies and is viewed as normal. But some people recognized that the major results of the beauty bind are not so beautiful. Self-objectification, female competition, and self-worth issues abound.

So what is the key to releasing women from the beauty bind? Well, that remains to be seen. In the meantime you could ask yourself if and how you contribute to the beauty binding of yourself or others.

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Self-Objectification

plastic-surgery-womanAre you preoccupied with your appearance? Do you think that the way you look is more important than anything else about yourself?

Self-objectification is the psychological phenomenon of seeing oneself from an outsider’s perspective, as an object to be viewed — like a painting on a wall. Self-objectification is more than a healthy attention to appearance. People who self-objectify take on a third person’s view of themselves. They consistently and carefully watch their appearance,  measuring themselves against an idealized and often unattainable standard of beauty and body image. It is more common for women to be self-objectifiers.

The Causes

Self-objectification results from an image-driven culture. It is not only the media that encourages people to see themselves as objects first, and subjects second, but their immediate surroundings. Family, friends, and strangers alike contribute to the mentality by placing priority on looks. Women, especially, learn early on that their appearance is vital to social acceptance — it determines whether they are loved or scorned.

Furthermore, in most cultures, women are shown and viewed as objects of desire, particularly male desire. Some women internalize this idea to the extent that they begin to see themselves through an outsider’s eyes, and take on the opinion that it is the primary purpose of a woman to look beautiful and attract men.

  • Relationships

For many women, relationships and love are tied to physical appearance. The better a woman looks, the more likely she is to be loved by men and be chosen for a relationship. Thus relationships can be a major cause of self-objectification in women.

A study involving young women found that thoughts of relationships can cause greater self-objectification. In single women, this effect was most clear — they were more likely to rank parts of their body as important to themselves after being presented with words about relationships.

Women who were in relationships did not respond the same way. In fact, after being presented with words about relationships, they were more likely to rank parts of their body as less important. This suggests that insecurities about relationships and ability to attract increases self-objectification.

  • Media

Much research has shown that there is a strong correlation between  level of media exposure and self-objectification. Women who regularly read magazines, watch TV, and consume other forms of media are more likely to rate their appearance as most important, and are more likely to suffer from eating disorders and depression.

The Effects

Self-objectification is said to be a cause of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, depression, and general anxiety. People who self-objectify never truly feel happy with themselves and their appearance. Others may think they look fine, but the self-objectifier suffers from body shame and relentlessly finds fault with their looks. Because they see themselves as objects to be acted upon, some may go to extreme measures to alter their appearance to fit the ideal. Permanent physical alterations such as plastic surgery are considered a basic requirement to the severe self-objectifier. Dieting to unhealthy weights is the norm.

If you find yourself paying excessive attention to your looks, it is best to recognize this tendency for what it is. Find the roots of this behavior in yourself and stop them: quit reading so many magazines, turn off the television. If people in your immediate environment are the cause, lessen your attention to them. If not, your increasing fault-finding could develop into something more serious.

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PUA is Pathetic and The Day I Was A Target

pua-objectificationPUA, also known as Pickup Artists, is a seduction community composed of men seeking to learn, teach, and discuss ways to improve social and dating success with women. PUA hit the mainstream with the 2005 book The Game by Neil Strauss.

Supporters and users of PUA methods and its community claim that PUA is helpful. It teaches men who would usually be rejected by women how to approach them successfully. And it provides a way for women who normally would have overlooked these men to see the potential of these men. PUA advocates contend that although PUA is often used by men to get women into bed, it can also result in successful relationships and even marriage and is beneficial to everyone involved.

Not.

PUA’s techniques are less about relationships, dating, or even “harmless fun” and more about manipulation, power play, and self-gratification. The “player” is usually a male who is lacking self-esteem due to being rejected or passed up by attractive women. He sees dating and his “target” (term used for the woman who is sought) as a game to be won. It is little more than vengeance — the man seeks to use manipulative psychological methods to bring the attractive woman down to his “level”.

One of the most talked about PUA techniques is the neg, or negative hit. “Negging” is a method whereby a guy attempts to lower the self-confidence of an extremely attractive woman by complimenting her and shortly thereafter insulting her, or giving her a backhanded compliment — an insult disguised as a compliment (e.g. “You lost 20 pounds? Wonderful! When are you going to lose the rest? or “Nice nails. They look so real.”) The woman, who is used to being praised by men, is thrown off-balance. The “negger” is then given an opportunity to work his “charm”.

Not too long ago I had my own close encounter with the neg when a guy at a local drugstore decided I would become his “target”. What follows is a quick, painless (or painful, if you’re the guy involved), smart way of shutting down an attempted neg.

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Men, Women, and Ogling

man-staringYesterday, as I was walking to the library to return some books, I noticed a guy in a car, stopped at a red light. I wouldn’t have noticed him, except he was straining his neck trying to look at me. I wasn’t sure at first, why exactly he was looking at me. The look on his face seemed as if he had just spotted a cerulean unicorn or Michael Jackson. His eyes were as far out of their sockets as they could go. When he looked me up and down, eyes still enlarged, I felt uncomfortable and probably looked just as I felt. He drove away slowly, still straining his neck (his hand was holding it), as cars honked at him to hurry.

This is only one incident in a lifelong string of such incidents. I’ve had men openly stare for minutes at my backside, bump into objects while trying to keep me in their vision, and lick their lips while watching me pass. Which leads me to ask: Why do men feel so comfortable visibly ogling women on the streets?

This type of behavior is not flattering, in fact, it is very off-putting. I’m sure that I would never give a guy the time of day if he were to ask for my number after eyeing me like I was his first meal in years. I do not buy the idea “Boys will be boys!” Men seem to be doing it on purpose, and without regard.

Women can be very physically attracted to a person at first glance too. I know I can be. Yet, I rarely spot women ogling men as men tend to ogle (and sometimes verbally harass) women. I would never stare at a man so blatantly because I would consider it an intrusion of their person and personal space.

How do you feel about ogling, particularly men ogling women they do not know? Has it happened to you in the past?

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