Objectifying Women Objectifies Men
The four Fs. That’s all you need to know about women. Find ‘em. Feel ‘em. F- ‘em. Forget ‘em.
The only time 12-year-old Phil had a man-to-man chat with his dad, he got that advice. By the time he was a married 39-year-old professional with two daughters, he seemed to have absorbed the lesson:
What are most guys looking for in a woman? We’re not looking for a nice person. We’re not looking for someone to rear our children. We’re not looking for someone who’s going to pitch in and be a good worker and contribute to the household. A guy is looking for a woman to f*ck him.
Norah Vincent met Phil during an 18 month period of her life when she dressed in drag to pass as a man, hoping to better understand them. And she wrote a book about it, Self-Made Man. Thru this journey she came to empathize with the male experience, and admired many of the men she got to know.
Other times she felt dispirited. Like when she met Phil.
Dressed as “Ned,” Norah had met Phil at a low-class strip joint called the Lizard Lounge – one of her more depressing discoveries. As a stripper approached on that first trip Norah looked up at her face, trying to avoid seeing her hard veined hands, her stretched belly and “her small, angry breasts.” Norah had expected that the woman’s face would be the least offensive part of her. Instead,
(Her face) was where the squalor showed the most… She wasn’t pretending that she liked us, or wanted us, or cared what we thought. She knew what we thought.
In the following weeks Norah watched other strippers like her. They would,
solicit you at the bar with their tits in their hands, sometimes with semi-sneers on their faces, and ask you how you were, often in the most hostile and obviously uninterested way… the girls often failed to ring a smile out of (the) glowering types, which explains why so many of them had given up trying long ago, and now came across like disgruntled cashiers at the all-night grocery.
Over time Norah saw that the women’s faces, their expressions, and the lives they reflected, didn’t really matter in these places. And that only a woman would likely even notice.
But she felt complicit in the objectification. And as the only woman not for sale, she put herself in the strippers’ place, measuring her own life against theirs. But looking again at “the thoughtless consumption” about her, the (seemingly) immense difference between the stripper and herself disappeared:
I knew that the circumstances of her life—or mine — didn’t make any difference in this place. To these guys she had no life. She was generic and rootless, just as her component female parts were devoid of any individuation. And so, therefore was I. I didn’t have to put myself in her place. I was in her place, just another piece of ass for the picking, had they only known it.
But actually, men who behave like this don’t objectify while sustaining their own humanity and empowerment.
Mark Swartz, a director of the Masters and Johnson clinic, says that porn becomes self-objectifying for many men who get hooked on it. He was talking about pornographic images instead of strippers, but his thoughts are provoking:
A man starts to feel like a computer himself when he realizes that he’s dependent on computer images to turn him on.
Norah Vincent came to see something similar at strip clubs. Both the strippers and the lonely men who frequented those places were equally debased.
Men who are all about sex and little else, or who seek to use and abuse women, are just as dehumanized, one-dimensional and shallow as anyone they objectify.
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Posted on February 4, 2015, in feminism, men, objectification, pornography, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged feminism, men, objectification, pornography, psychology, Self-Made Man, sex and sexuality, sexism, women. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.