Object Objectification of Humans

08 Subject and Object
From Subject, Object and Idea

Mass media exert extraordinarily powerful influences upon the way we think and see the world around us. Unfortunately, media is full of viruses of the mind, which include objectification of humans.

Objectification is a term to describe seeing human beings as objects. Representations show people, not as individuals, but as things to be owned, sold, used, etc., without regard to their personality or dignity. Sexual objectification is the act of treating a person merely as an instrument of sexual pleasure, making them a “sex object”.

Are we living in a culture of sexual liberation as some might argue, or are we being treated and learning to treat ourselves as mere objects?

used( photo by Dmytro Honcharov )

A plethora of research has found sexual objectification to have a range of negative consequences:

“Sexualized portrayals of women have been found to legitimize or exacerbate violence against women and girls, as well as sexual harassment and anti-women attitudes among men and boys,” Hatton says. “Such images also have been shown to increase rates of body dissatisfaction and/or eating disorders among men, women and girls; and they have even been shown to decrease sexual satisfaction among both men and women.”

As Carole Heldman PHD points out, “Women who grow up in a culture with widespread sexual objectification tend to view themselves as objects of desire for others. This internalized sexual objectification has been linked to problems with mental health (e.g., clinical depression, “habitual body monitoring”), eating disorders, body shame, self-worth and life satisfaction, cognitive functioning, motor functioning, sexual dysfunction… Beyond the internal effects, sexually objectified women are dehumanized by others and seen as less competent and worthy of empathy by both men and women.”

Advertising
From Advertising and Society

 Laci Green highlighted some of these points very well in her YouTube video on sexual objectification:

Are women the only victims of objectification? Of course not. Sex sells and as Lisa Wade notes, men’s sexual objectification is on the rise too. Objectifying men alongside women certainly isn’t progress and the forces behind this ‘equality’ have nothing to do with justice. Unfortunately, market forces under capitalism exploit whatever fertile ground is available.

ManFrom Sociological Images

When talking about sexual objectification, it is important to point out the differences between sexy and sexual. If one thinks of the subject/object dichotomy that dominates thinking in Western culture, subjects act and objects are acted upon. Subjects are sexual, while objects are sexy. While most people enjoy being perceived as ‘sexy’ or ‘sexually appealing’ by their loving and caring partners, hardly anyone likes to be perceived as a mere object. We are all humans after all, with souls, minds and feelings.

Kiss
From Fanpop

Sex sells however the purchasing decision is still yours. Choose wisely.

Related posts:

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Open Marriage = Happy Marriage ?

OpenMarriage
From Open Marriage, Healthy Marriage?

The term “open marriage” has come a long way. It once implied that people had the freedom to choose who they would like to marry. Current research and views of Western marriage support the idea that an open marriage, supporting the growth and development of the individuals within a marriage, creates the healthiest environment for a happy, long-term relationship. That understanding of the ‘open marriage’ term was coined by  in their book Open Marriage, though it has been widely misinterpreted over the years with the whole focus of the ‘open marriage’ meme shifting to non-monogamous sexual relationship.

books

As David J. Ley points out, “when Nena and George O’Neill wrote their book, Open Marriage, the media and society grabbed onto a small piece of their concept, the idea that married partners might have sex with people other than their spouse. In later writings, the O’Neill’s expressed regret over this, and the fact that the term “open marriage” was now synonymous with sexual nonmonogamy. The O’Neill’s were writing at the end of an era when women had been returned to the kitchen, after working in the factories during World War II. During the Fifties, American culture strongly asserted the value of the traditional marriage, where a wife stayed home and the husband went to work. A wife and husband were supposed to be everything to one another, to satisfy each other’s every need. Best friend, soul mate, confidant, bedmate, all wrapped into one pretty, neat, tidy package.

But, this is a stifling, growth-retarding package and recipe for a relationship. Fifty years ago, the O’Neills argued that healthy marriages were ones that recognized the need for individual growth of each person in the marriage. And growth comes from encountering and reacting to new things, new ideas, and new people. Rather than expecting people to grow, trapped in a fishbowl with one other person, the O’Neills said that husbands and wives needed relationships and experiences with people other than their spouses. Not necessarily sexual or intimate relationships either, but even just friendships, and professional relationships. Experiences that help each person to continue a lifetime of growth, in partnership with their spouse.”

This view is supported by the Arthur Aron and Gary Lewandowski – psychologists who recently published research about the things that make healthy marriages last. They found that “people who feel that their husband or wife has helped them to grow as a person, to learn new things, to become a better, different person, are most likely to view their marriage as a positive, healthy and vibrant thing.”

couple-happy-kiss-love-married-Favim_com-256932_large
From WeHeartIt

What about sex  then and non-monogamous relationships associated with  the ‘open marriage’ term this days ?

It is surprisingly difficult to find statistics on whether non-monogamous ‘open’ marriages work. Ironically, non-monogamous ‘open marriage’ isn’t something we talk about all that openly.

Several definitional issues complicate attempts to determine the incidence of open marriage. People sometimes claim to have open marriages when their spouses would not agree. Couples may agree to allow extramarital sex but never actually engage in extramarital sex. Some researchers define open marriages in highly narrow terms. Steve Brody, a psychologist in Cambria, California, explains that less than 1 percent of married people are in a sexually open marriages.

According to anecdotal evidence, the impact of open marriage on relationships varies across couples. Some couples report high levels of marital satisfaction and have long-lasting open marriages. Other couples drop out of the open marriage lifestyle and return to sexual monogamy. These couples may continue to believe open marriage is a valid lifestyle, just not for them. Still, other couples experience serious problems and claim open marriage contributed to their divorces. Some research suggests that open marriage has a 92 percent failure rate.

Is maintaining the non-monogamous open sexual relationship easier than traditional monogamous relationship?

Stephen J. Betchen, who treated a number of open marriages (most polyamorous), came to the following conclusion: “I would argue that a couple that partakes in an open relationship be close to perfect: Their love and commitment should be unquestionable; their ability to communicate and to problem-solve equally skillful. Why? Because we humans tend to have trouble setting limits when we want something bad enough. And when we’re angry, all those rules that were painstakingly agreed upon can be used as weapons to attack or destroy our mates. Then again, if a couple were close to perfect would they even want an open relationship? Is open marriage just another vehicle to avoid intimacy or should we loosen up a bit and embrace this alternative lifestyle? The debate will no doubt continue…as will open marriage.”

Love_and_Marriage5from Love and Marriage Cartoons

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Memes which prevent sexual intimacy

Once I came across a series of notes written by American prostitutes. They looked more like case studies, describing individual clients and their ‘business’ requirements (don’t worry  – they did not contain any personally identifiable information).

I was surprised to discover that quite a large number of clients described in those notes were married, loved their wives and overall had very happy families. “Why do they go to prostitutes then?” –  I wondered. “ Why do they go to prostitutes?” – wondered some of the prostitutes featured in those notes.

I got surprised even more when it turned out that some of those clients did not even want to have a ‘full’ service. Often they wanted just something pretty minor that would turn them on – and then they would go straight home to their wives to get the rest. Even some prostitutes were wondering why anyone on Earth would ever pay for that?!

Why did those men risk losing treasured families by going to prostitutes instead of asking their beloved wives for those pretty minor ‘turn ons’?

I’ve done some further research on that and discovered a few interesting memes (or myths) those men might have had in their minds (consciously or subconsciously).

1.       ‘Hot’ vs. ‘Cold’

Men are usually looking for faithful long-term partners as they fear potential infidelity. For that reason some men deliberately avoid ‘hot’ partners or afraid to see their partners as ‘hot’ (partners, who have high libido and are easily satisfied during the sexual act) assuming that ‘hot’ partners are more ‘risky’ and prone to infidelity. I could not find however any evidence proving that view or demonstrating correlation between ‘hotness’ and ‘infidelity’. If a person is fully satisfied (no matter how ‘hot’ this person is) why would he/she look for satisfaction elsewhere?

2.       Black and White Swan syndrome

Some men are struggling with seeing ‘romantic’ and ‘sexual’ sides in the same person. They love their beautiful ‘White Swans’/wives with the most romantic love on Earth, but don’t get turned on by them as they do not see them as ‘sexual’ beings. Therefore to satisfy their biological needs these men turn to ‘black’ swans – sexual objects they have no personal connection with (e.g. porno, prostitutes etc.).

Interestingly enough, in the famous ballet ‘Swan Lake’ the roles of Odette (the White Swan) and Odile (the Black Swan) are always danced by the same ballet dancer. 😉 Or, as the Bible says, “It is good for a man to have nothing to do with a woman. But because of the desires of the flesh, let every man have his wife, and every woman her husband. Let the husband give to the wife what is right; and let the wife do the same to the husband. The wife has not power over her body, but the husband; and in the same way the husband has not power over his body, but the wife. Do not keep back from one another what is right, but only for a short time, and by agreement, so that you may give yourselves to prayer, and come together again; so that Satan may not get the better of you through your loss of self-control…”

3.       Fear to be misunderstood

Some men fear to be misunderstood. They are scared that their beloved ones will leave them if they get to know all their secret sexual desires. Therefore they are struggling to open up themselves to their partners.

However it is not all gloom and doom. There are some powerful strategies that can ‘replace’ or ‘counteract’ these nasty memes. A few of them are provided below:

Four C’s of Sexual Intimacy:

  • Communication:
    Frustration accumulates when partners  are not able to communicate about problems, desires, fears, or a host of other regularly unspoken issues that impact their sexual experience.
  • Caring:
    Caring for your partner means providing them with the sexual experience that pleases them, on their terms, in their way, in their time frame. However caring is not a one-way street – both partners should be caring about each other.
  • Commitment:
    Commitment to sexual intimacy in marriage involves doing what is necessary to achieve it, and eliminating whatever is necessary that impedes it. Commitment also translates into time: you must prioritize your time for sex since other work and family commitments often tend to get in the way.
  • Common Values:
    It is hard to develop intimacy when values held by husband and wife are in conflict. Compatibility is vital for romance and intimacy. You don’t have to agree on everything; but you have to feel safe to be yourself, holding your own values and ideals without threat: this is how trust is built. Romantic intimacy develops as you can be completely open and honest within this context of trust and mutual acceptance.

Having realistic expectations and focusing on ‘quality’ rather than different measureable attributes (e.g. bigger, longer, faster etc. etc. etc) might help as well. We are not talking about one of the Olympic sports after all and are not on a racing course. There is as much pleasure in the journey as in its destination 😉 .

sexual_intimacyFrom Sexual Intimacy in Marriage

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It is good for a man…

“It is good for a man to have nothing to do with a woman. But because of the desires of the flesh, let every man have his wife, and every woman her husband. Let the husband give to the wife what is right; and let the wife do the same to the husband. The wife has not power over her body, but the husband; and in the same way the husband has not power over his body, but the wife. Do not keep back from one another what is right, but only for a short time, and by agreement, so that you may give yourselves to prayer, and come together again; so that Satan may not get the better of you through your loss of self-control…”

( Bible in Basic English )

( Photo by -seven- )

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