Objectification’s Role in a Suicide

abc_bullied3_amanda_todd_jt_121012_wg[1]More than sexual objectification was certainly involved in 15-year-old Amanda Todd’s death. But it seems to have played a role.

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.

This is a rerun, I’m on vacation.

Related Posts
Anything Good About Being A Sex Object?
Nude Men Seem Less Intelligent
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 August 3, 2017, in objectification, sexism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. human beings are becoming less sensitive towards the issues of others. Her life could have been saved if she would have got moral support from the society….. but alas….

  2. 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.”

    How did he get the names of her new friends if she moved away? Did she have her facebook on private so people not her friend’s can’t see who her friends are? This isn’t a guy who simply sees women as sex objects, it’s a fucking POS loser who had no life and was hell bent on ruining someone else’s life. I don’t know this girl but this not only disgusts me but really pisses me off. Because she moved away and actually tried getting away and fighting it.

    Most victims of cyber bullying they don’t move and the bully is near them so they can continue the harassment. The fucker obsessively stalked her. Why didn’t she report him. If that page was up, the FBI can actually trace your usp code. Some can be not tracked, but that’s with encrypttion, but guys like that are hackers and don’t leave websites up. Him leaving a facebook page of her up, I would think could be tracked with the location of that computer discovered. Seriously that is a crime and he needs to be found and arrested and for a good term and mixed with the general population. If I was a family member of her and he stalked her and cause that. He seriously would be lucking to be alive, and most likely would be paralyzed from the neck down if I was done with him.

    • Maybe part of the reason why girls are targeted is because they don’t know the world and their power in it. They may not know avenues they can pursue like calling the FBI.

      This is a rerun so it could be that Facebook didn’t have a privacy setting at the time and he found her friends names by checking Facebook. Otherwise, I don’t know how he found her friends call of the article didn’t go into that.

      re:
      This isn’t a guy who simply sees women as sex objects, it’s a fucking POS loser who had no life and was hell bent on ruining someone else’s life.

      As I said:
      “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.”

      • You can report that stuff too and facebook can take that page off and I think block a user from signing in again based on usp code coming from their PC or phone.

      • I’m glad that this has changed since I originally wrote this piece. Hopefully people know what tools are available to fight this sort of thing.

  3. Very unfortunate! But sadly, it’s not uncommon.

  4. Didn’t that fellow break a number of laws in relationship to underaged girls? And why weren’t the police put on to him immediately?

  5. This is such a sad story…. what strikes me the most is the fact that women feel threatened but above all embarrassed when it comes to sexual assault or sexual harassment… Worst case is suicide, but it seems at times you just can´t cope with it anymore. Not coming forward and remaining in silence must be such a burden. In this sense, I have recently watched an excellent documentary “The Keepers” (Netflix), which I recommend you… Here is the official trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Khr7dbuBjuE Sending love & best wishes, dear Georgia! ⭐

    • Feeling both threatened and embarrassed by being sexually harmed is a mark of patriarchy — privileging men and masculinity above women and femininity. Its contradictory and yet we are so used to it that It’s hard to even notice it. Fortunately, more women and men are against the injustice. And thanks for the link.

  6. I’m glad that this has changed since I originally wrote this piece. Hopefully people know what tools are available to fight this sort of thing.”

    I’m surprised it wasn’t banned right away even back then because I’m pretty sure facebook has a strong policy against nudity, especially one from a minor.

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