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.

By the way, objectification and desire are two different things. And men are rarely objectified. See these two articles:

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

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Anything Good About Being A Sex Object?
Being Sexual vs Looking Sexual
Does Porn Objectify? Experts Disagree

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social 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. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on October 29, 2012, in feminism, men, objectification, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. This is a topic I have thought a lot about because there are so many facets of women’s objectification through the media, porn, and by men. It has become commonplace for men to talk about women’s bodies in an objectifying way. Take a look at Trump’s remarks during the presidential election; he was taped saying “grab her by the pussy.” In fact, this is a brilliant example of the how some, if not most men, view women as different sexual creatures. It was merely dismissed as locker room banter, even women (who were trump supporters) dismissed his comments as “boys talk.” It is quite infuriating when men are indulged in their Madonna-Whore complexes. While Trump has a wife at home, playing the part of excellent naïve home-maker, he’s out with his boys just having “locker room banter” talking about women solely by their bodies, as if we are just two legs attached to tits, ass, and a “pussy.” You would never hear “women’s room banter” as if women would so casually talk about grabbing a man by his penis or better yet his “dick.” And if she dares say it, she is either vulgar, masculine or a slut. So, there is a massive disconnect between the way men view women. Addressing the question of self-esteem and men’s power over women, I believe that plays a large part in men’s desire to objectify women, its tied to self-esteem because our idea of masculinity involves complete control and dominance. Masculinity does not preach equality, but quite the opposite. Teaching our boys not to communicate, talk, feel empathy or sympathy towards people of different sex, gender, or class all effects how we internalize and interpret our outside world. In this view, there is also an inherent inferiority of women, which makes them feel scared walking to their car at night, feel disvalued in the workplace, be insecure about their looks, and so forth. Reading through some of the comments by men, there still seems to be a “wanting” rather than a “love” and making the distinction between want and love, I think, is necessary when addressing this question. Because wanting someone through desire and then loving someone for the person they are– are aspects of both men and women. However, men often confuse this differentiation as the same thing, thinking women always want to be “wanted”– and while that may be true to an extent, it’s nice to receive attention. But when the emphasis is not directed at the person or conscious of the woman, and there is a repetition of this throughout one’s relationships; this can lead to insecurity on both sides about fully engaging in a loving relationship or passionate sex, for that matter.

  2. Yahaira Arreola-Rodriguez

    Men objectify for the same reason men objectify other men, women objectify men, and women objectify other women. It is a perfectly natural thing to do when one doesn’t know anything more about a person that what he/she looks like.
    It is simply the way nature has built men. Men are hardwired to gravitate towards attractive women because a good looking female is a “better” choice for reproduction. It is a basic and fundamental way that men think. It also has to do with how cultures have generally treated women in history. Women were seen more or less as objects in many cultures, therefore naturally objectification happened.
    Objectify is not always a negative thing. Men and women seem to be content when being objectified because it means they are getting attention and being noticed; they seem to be content particularly if that objectification is by someone who one has objectified and admired the look of and especially if it leads to a connection.
    Honestly, being objectified is a natural human response to other human beings but people are starting to shy away from the idea.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!!

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

  6. I am totally loving this and reblogging you!

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

  8. Interesting article from male perspective.

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