Objectification’s Role in a Suicide
It all began when Amanda and a few of her middle school friends started videochatting with strangers just for fun. Some told her she was “stunning, beautiful, perfect,” a complement any 13-year-old would enjoy. Eventually, a man asked her to flash. And she did.
A year later this same guy found her and threatened to send the nude photos to her family, friends and her entire school if she didn’t “put on a show for him.” When she refused, he did.
Amanda became the laughingstock of the school and lost all of her friends. Anxiety and major depression overtook her life and she turned to drugs, alcohol and cutting to cover the pain.
She moved a couple of times, trying to get away, but her stalker always collected the names of her new friends and even set up a Facebook page with her boobs as the profile picture.
The pictures followed her wherever she went. And so did the derision. And the isolation.
She made two suicide attempts.
A couple of weeks ago she posted a nine-minute video, “My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide and self harm.” She never speaks in it, but holds up note cards that tell her story. Maybe you’ve seen it. If not, it’s a powerful message against bullying which you can see here.
Near the end she seems hopeful, holding a card that reads:
Everyone’s future will be bright one day, you just gotta pull through. I’m still here, aren’t I?
But depression finally won and she committed suicide last week.
How could objectification have played a role? Well, how does objectification encourage men to see women? Actually, it doesn’t encourage men to see women, but to see women’s bodies – as objects that exist for their purposes.
The images are often bodies without heads—without minds and thoughts and emotions or personalities or a will to act in the world. Sometimes the bodies are shaped in the form of an object, like a table, for a man to use as he will.
The man who harassed Amanda did not see her as a person who had hopes and dreams for the future. He is not a man who cared about her. He did not think of her as a person. She was just a thing for him to play with and manipulate for his own sadistic purposes. If he had seen her as a real person and felt any empathy he would not have behaved as he did.
Now, all men are subjected to objectification, yet not all men behave like Amanda’s stalker. So of course it takes more than objectification to drive a man like that. But objectification combined with a twisted mind can be a dangerous thing.