Why Men Objectify

Some men wonder why they objectify women. So Jayson Gaddis asked men on his Facebook page why they thought they did, and then he wrote about it for The Good Men Project.

What is objectification? Jayson describes it as:

Staring, gawking, or checking out women and their bodies and body parts. Seeing them as objects instead of actual people, and thinking of them in a sexual way.

Why do they do it? Most blame “nature.” As one man exclaimed,

I love looking at women. They’re just amazing. It’s part of my biological make up to think that they’re beautiful.

Jayson believes biology plays a role since men are hardwired to look for mates and procreate. But he thinks cultural conditioning is involved, too. To paraphrase:

In men’s culture, it’s acceptable to objectify women. Men bond around it. And, it’s pervasive and all around us. Notice where men buy stuff, there are often photos of women present. I can barely go on any male-focused website now without being hit at some point by a tiny, physically attractive, disproportioned airbrushed woman looking at me.

Some men objectify because the “feel good” feeling acts like a drug or pick me up. Objectification can fill an empty place inside:

I’m stuck in the belief that that feminine essence is outside of myself. I’m alienated from the larger truth of my Completeness as a human being. That sexy, juicy, radiant paradise is not inside myself, therefore it’s an object I obsess about outside myself and I treat it like entertainment. This insight leads me to believe I haven’t spent enough time balancing the relationship with My (whole) Self.

Others want gratification without any real work or risk of rejection.

I objectify women cause it’s “safer.” I receive an immediate gratification, a thrill if you will, albeit superficial, it does keep me safe at least for a time from annihilation — from a treacherous road of intimacy and vulnerability — the risk of being really seen and connected with – or actually rejected!! Yes, that’s it — it’s an avoidance of rejection… Intimacy takes a lot of work, courage and commitment. Objectifying is an “easy” road out of the potential of rejections.

Maybe some men simply enjoy the sense of being with many women, polygamous, a way of living that doesn’t appear to be a possibility in our culture. One man says he likes to play with the fantasy and the illusion like he does with porn:

The most fun and exciting and ego gratifying times in my life have been when i have embraced it and danced with it and gave myself permission to play with the illusions, projections, feelings, etc.

Like this man, many say they seek approval or self-esteem. I’m not sure what that means. Might a man’s self worth rise when he imagines the women enjoying his attention?

Or, does self-esteem rise from gaining a sense of power over women? After all, they dressed and adorned themselves to please men – and thus, “him.”

Some talk of the power women have over men – making them melt and creating unrequited desire. But by objectifying women a man can feel superior. “He” is subject while “she” is an object that exists for his pleasure and purposes.

The fear of annihilation has been cited before, but one man describes it in a way that echoes this fear of female power. He seeks “to avoid the terror of annihilation — being reabsorbed back into the feminine.”

Whatever’s going on, Jayson suggests men consider how objectification is working for them and the women in their lives. For those who feel it’s not working, here’s how some have dealt with the matter:

What I’ve found works best for me so far is being a yes to everything in my own experience and in what’s happening AND at some point in my development simply realizing that objectification is not enough for me …  I love appreciating and experiencing another human being for more than just her physical traits. What I prefer physically doesn’t in itself inspire me to want to connect with a woman, and doesn’t in itself have me feel attracted. The attraction and inspiration simply are there or not independent of how she looks.

Or this:

The answer for me was to stop trying to get this woman but use that energy to make myself the best possible me I could become. A me that now has confidence because I am self assured, self respecting, and full of self accepting unconditional love. Part of becoming that man means that I must accept and own the truth of my motives and be willing to see the motives of others. That is when I was finally able to let go of the fantasy and see this woman for who she really is inside.

My biggest life breakthrough and victory came as a result of that growth.

As a result, something incredible is happening to me now. Something wonderful has started growing in the void where my fantasy used to live. It’s a genuine curiosity and appreciation for all woman. Especially for all the women who actually live and display their authentic self and freely give their love to all as an expression of their femininity.

Or this,

Once I get connected to me again, I notice how I can appreciate a beautiful woman and I’m in my body, connected to my heart. It has a totally different quality. She feels it and I feel it.

For more on all this, go to The Good Men Project.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych, women's psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State University. And I have blogged for Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos.

Posted on October 29, 2012, in feminism, men, objectification, psychology, sex, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Interesting article from male perspective.

  2. Well I objectify back..so an even trade I guess.

  3. I am totally loving this and reblogging you!

  4. Reblogged this on Susan Daniels Poetry and commented:
    Fascinating read.

  5. I’m amazed at the depth of some of these answers, and the angle. I think there is a massive cultural message of objectification. I get frequently annoyed and upset that everywhere I click there’s a scantily clad, photoshopped woman – even when you look for car insurance – or cheese – what the hell is going on!!

  6. Very true. But this also applies to woman; man may do it more often and possibly more obvious but women to check out man as well. We, as women sometimes can feel like we have to fulfill a checklist of things in order to have men to take a look at us because we are bombarded by the media with pictures and the prototype of what is considered beautiful and therefore man want. I don’t find it rude or degrading towards women if man do check them out because everyone is different and it is good to identify other features one posses that makes them unique; it is stepping out of the “whats expected” picture.

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