Category Archives: Objectification

Objectification: How do you cope?

I have been objectified. It’s one of the worst feelings I have ever experienced and now I wonder: how can women put up with this?

It all started as a little personal project I decided to undertake for my own pleasure first. I take black and white pictures of the same thing on various backgrounds representing various everyday tasks such as shopping, DIY, gardening, teaching, cooking, baking…

The process is quite a long one because I want all the pictures to be framed the same way but as I am using my phone from above, I have no preview of what I am photographing until I see it so I tend to take up to 20 pictures every time. I then compare it with the original one before I edit it to black and white.

After about a dozen of them, I decided to share them on social media at a rate of once/week so I have time to work on new ideas and keep the flow running steadily. However, now, I don’t want to anymore, because the first reactions I received were men admitting getting off on the pictures and asking for more…now! Two of them were actually begging. I removed the comments and block them but the damage was done.

There is no nudity involved whatsoever. I would understand their reactions, had I started posting pictures the likes of Kyle Krieger’s but the most you can see of me is a bit of my ankles. The rest is the main subject, not sexual, on backgrounds that, as I said, are nothing but common: a watering can and a shovel, some fruits and groceries next to a shopping bag…For me, it is some kind of art on which I spend a lot of time. I guess the point of art is to trigger feelings and emotions but never, even for a second have I thought it could be seen as remotely arousing or sexual.

I know we live in a society that sexualises everything. A woman cannot breastfeed anymore without half the people out there being outraged as this “disgusting display of open porn”. Still I don’t understand how women manage to carry on when they are subjected to this on a daily basis.

So I asked my mother, who I know is the subject of everyday objectification by men just because of her looks, and she said the ‘Monica moment’ in Friends is normal for women. The moment where she is asked to make a meal as part of an interview to work as a chef. The owner is a downright pervert who finds women working with dirty hands and food arousing and has no boundaries when it comes to turning Monica into an object for his own pleasure.

She told me everything you do, are, say, the way you behave will be subject of sexual objectification by someone somewhere…Suddenly, I can’t shift that vision of Richard in Ally McBeal who finds the flesh under women’s neck or arms arousing. I found it cringe-worthy at the best of time. Now I understand the intended comical effects and sociological reflection, the fact that it says more about him and society than it does about women but the cringe lingers.

Akin to Monica and Richard’s objects of desire, you are just being you with no ulterior motives. You are living your life as you do and suddenly it hits you in the face: that guy who stares at you, the one who makes constant comments, the ones who go as far as to try and touch you as if you were nothing but the button to their hormone switch.

Now that it happened to me, not only do I feel violated and discouraged to post more material, which I enjoy making, but I can’t help but thinking that maybe my being overweight or speaking with an accent or even the clothes and perfumes I wear are as many hormone switches to some people out there. They are not all perverts for they obviously know how to keep it for themselves but my view of the world has changed and my question stood: How do women cope?

My mother just replied: You just live your life. Yes, you know it’s there, everyday, lurking behind you. So you try to understand, you rationalise it, you find it disgusting anyway so you fake it until you are with your peers and can finally let out all your anger and disgust because what alse can you do? Never go out anymore? Hide yourself? Useless! Some men find inaccessible women to be a sexual fantasy anyway… (The growing trend of “Arabic women in burqa having sex” on the Internet proves her point.)

The fact is: there will always be someone who finds something sexual: high heels, pearl necklaces, pregnancy…; suits, beards, glasses, nerds…That’s not the problem, desire is a natural urge. The issue is perversion: the lacking of that social skill that makes you fathom where the boundaries are between your urges and how they should manifest in everyday life. In that case, the fact that you don’t have to openly express every single one of them every single time.

What I have come to learn with this very innocent series of pictures is that when it comes to open and proud objectification, there is no winner, just people who think it’s their right to act up on their urges. I also learn to once again rely on women to find a way out of and find the strength to carry on so I will post more pictures and carry on blocking the ones who can keep their boners out of their trousers because at the end, it’s about me, not them.

Advertisements

Men and women: The stripper discrepancy.

Let’s address a fundamental question here:

Why is it okay for the media to show a male model stripping to cheering women when it’s morally unacceptable to show a women stripping to cheering men?

Why is it okay for women to objectify men but not okay for men to objectify women?

In a nutshell, that’s because very few women actually objectify men whereas very few men manage to see beyond what sexually arouses them.

As a gay man in my 30s, I got to experience both sides when living in England and I have to say there is a massive difference in how the model/stripper is treated. Maybe I have been living in Care Bears world but unlike men, I have never witnessed women calling the stripping man names such as “fucker”, “cunt”, “slag”, “whore”, “piggy”, “bastard”, “dirty little slut” et al.

I have never heard women say to the stripping man: “You want it, don’t you? I know you do, you dirty pig! To suck my pussy! Yeah, that’s right! All you really want is me to sit on your face so I can shove your nose in it. Come on, baby, open your mouth and taste my juice. We both know that’s why you’re here!”

I have never seen a women crossing the lines that were clearly marked. Never have we had to even restrain a female friend because she simply decided it was better to disregard what we talked about, what the agency told us beforehand and just shoved her hand in there to grab the guy’s penis or force him to perform a sexual act right here, right now just because she pays the price. That’s rape, by the way.

With women, the ambiance is of fun. Genuine fun. Little alcohol and a lot of laughter in a mostly bright environment. Once, the room was dark but all the other couple of times, it was fully lit and we could all see each other very clearly. I never felt disgusted or disgusting. On the opposite, the point was to, indeed, enjoy the amazing body of a man who worked hard to get it, but mostly to have a fun and to make fun of the most prudish girls by making the guy dance on them as they were cringing whilst also laughing.

My female friends would talk with the guy afterwards like a normal person after he put his clothes back on. We would share drinks and would talk to him, he would become part of the guests until he had to go to his next job.

We would pay him for his stripping as a entertainer and we would always acknowledge his humanity. Some have thought otherwise, I am sure, but we never acted like we owned him for the time he worked for us. Of course we had his body in our head and we talked about it with him too, trying to hide the fact that we did crave for him to pound each of us until we turned blue. Nevertheless, he was never meant to feel like just a piece of worthless meat designed solely for our most unbalanced sexual fantasies, or as an morally reprehensible accessory we would share in secret as mean to bound us further.

Whereas all the abhorrent talk and insults I mentioned before is what I have always witnessed with men. With men, it’s squalid, insulting, disgusting. You always find yourself in some weird places in the badly-lit backstreets of towns, in a room where you cannot see anyone else but the girl doing what is essentially a job to pay the rent, the food for her kids or her studies. Do any of the men present ever think of that as they shout insults? Does it ever cross their mind that the moving body in front of them is living beyond these walls, has a life and has a story to tell? No. And not because they are inherent low-lives but because they drink to behave as such.

Indeed, unlike with women, there is this constant need for alcohol with men because of course behaving like beasts doesn’t come naturally to humans anymore. Education means inhibitions that will only go away with drugs.

With men, I witnessed what we have normalised as “locker room talk”: this competition in being the one who will degrade the stripping woman the most, this bounding in the secrecy of doing together something they know to be wrong or reprehensible. This “Bros before hoes” mentality where the “hoe” will pay the price of the men becoming “bros” – sports being the cesspit of this type of masculinity.

Personally, I have seen married men having to be pushed back by bouncers because they always want to put their hands where they know they mustn’t. I have seen friends of mine in long-term relationships becoming nothing but sex on legs, rubbing their crouch, if not just plainly masturbating within less than a minute after the girl started.

There are many reasons to explain the difference in behaviours and why women very rarely objectify men like that men objectify women. One of them is how men and women behave towards finding a mate to begin with, as women are told very early that finding the “right one” is an essential goal in their life. Therefore every “alpha male” is not yet another fuck on the way to menopause but a potential father. It is deeply carved in the psyche of society and women so competition between women will be to be the most attractive to that man, the most wife-material and that’s not by drinking, swearing and assaulting them that it will occur. Men don’t have this kind of expectations regarding women and themselves.

Actually, speaking of gender education, what I am saying is not entirely true for men are changing. In November, the Guardian published an article showing that men do not enjoy the debauchery of stag-dos anymore, a study that comes after travel agencies have noticed a change in stag-dos pattern and what men do before they get married: no stripper, it’s all about arts and wine.

What these studies show is a trend towards the end of objectification altogether as brotherhood is being redefined. We thought men enjoyed objectifying and found it acceptable, we thought and still think it is the norm within between men, as shows the question I am addressing. In fact, no matter what Mr Trump and over-60s ilks might think, do, say and pretend, it turns out, overall men actually don’t enjoy it. As men are ever more educated towards gender equality and being in touch with their feelings and the ones of others, they find objectification more and more degrading for the woman and also for themselves. They don’t enjoy being reduced to senseless beasts anymore.

Now, we are a long way from a group of men platonically inviting the female stripper to join them as a guest to their party but we are getting there in terms of mutual respect. And aside the sexual roasting of footballers and other sportsmen, I can’t help but also seeing American series like Friends which, more than a decade ago, were already showing the decline of a brotherhood and male friendship built solely around the sexual objectification of women. And as far as sisterhood is concerned, it is defined within the realm of femininity, not towards or at the direct expense of men.

In the meantime, this difference between men and women,  the difference in how they see and treat the other gender stripping, how much of their humanity they actually acknowledge, the difference is what part the other gender plays in the definition of brotherhood and sisterhood is what makes women enjoying a man stripping morally more acceptable.