Objectification

A cousin of mine recommended that I watch the show “Gilmore Girls” and I did watch a few episodes because I am a stubborn person and like to do things thoroughly when I do them. While I did not enjoy the show (I think it’s supposed to be a comedy but I never laughed) I did find it interesting.

There’s this feminist concept called “objectification” which is something bad men are supposed to do. It means turning people into objects. When men are attracted to women, apparently a lot of time they objectify them. They apparently only see breasts, backsides, legs, etc. It is said that in advertising, in television, in movies and of course in pornography men do this a lot, and it is a problem because it focuses less on women as people and more on them as quantities or qualities, particularly physical ones. It is therefore strongly suggested by feminists, by people paying lip service to feminism and to Christian spokespersons who claim to be trying to make male/female relations better that men need to learn to not look first at appearances but at the real person beyond the appearances.

Well this is not altogether a bad idea if what is meant is don’t be superficial. That’s not a bad value to have at all. The problem I have with it is that if men objectify women, women probably objectify men a lot more.

So watching this show I notice the following things are discussed regularly between the women about men when it comes to their dating value in order of things first noticed.
1. Appearance (style of dress and general physical attractiveness)
2. Manner of behaviour (calm and fun and confident seems to generally mean ‘guy is attractive’ in this regard)
3. Job/Lifestyle. (while not as high as the others, I notice that the guy generally needs to have more money or at least just as much as the woman does. Certainly a nicer car.)
4. #2 comes into play again when dealing with the woman’s craziness. The woman gets flustered, confused, hesitates, gets angry, etc; the man must be calmly persistent and charming in response.
5. Has no bad habits. Bad habits range from the serious (being bad with money) to the relatively trivial (smacks his lips, is untidy at home, has a verbal tic) etc.
6. Following all this is the man’s general character.

Now on these shows these things are generally true. I would like to emphasize something–I don’t think the above is necessarily bad that women objectify men a bit more than men objectify women. There is an old joke about how to please a man: show up naked and bring food. While this is a bit silly and not entirely true there’s also a basis for the joke. Men who are fussy about details in relationships stand out; men who tend to be relaxed about home life, the woman’s appearance (wanting her attractive but not magazine perfect for instance), and accepting of others’ habits unless they are over the top and beyond any normal person’s tolerance are more average. Again, I think that that’s okay. These are simply preferences. People can sort them out as relationships require.

The issue for me is that it is a virtue in women and a problem in men, and the problem in men is not necessarily linked to anything in reality. Because of course as we know women end relationships a lot more than men do. So I would urge church leaders who think that they are being fair by pointing out objectification of women by men that it does go both ways, and perhaps a little farther on the women’s end of things.

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40 thoughts on “Objectification

  1. Don’t know if you ever see the bread crumbs I leave around, sojourner, but yesterday I was on about this at Elspeth’s blog. A woman had written in about her husband looking at porn, his subsequent ceasing, and her change of heart aside from the porn issue, realizing that she can make herself his slumber screen starlet with pleasant and available demeanor and some attention to looking her best regardless what life stage.

    i shared that men often state they would accept a lower 1-10 scale woman who is of that easy character over a shew with a higher rank number (I realize i used “n” mistakenly as the rank, and we typically use N as number of sex partners)

    A blogger called The Practical Conservative popped in to say she doesn’t buy it, she would buy it if she could see just one man make that choice. I cede that men make the mistake of grabbing the high rank woman then envying the man with the low drama easy going lower looks rank wife. But the preference stands regardless that the man must learn the hard way. This refutes the objectification construct.

    The original woman who mentioned her husband and porn graciously responded and was able to see that my intentions, and what i said, were not offensive things.

    OT somewhat but this Practical Conservative is really seething about something. If I’d read her blog top to bottom maybe I’d know what. She finds wedge issues buried in the area of what she would call hard core traditionalist right wing Christianity vs., well, her more practical version. Not satisfied to just state her position on things like homeschooling like someone would do if they were comfortable in their skin, their beliefs, she finds the most extreme examples that consist of others using hyperbole illustratively, and she attacks the hyperbole by adding to or putting words in their mouths. Even in my case, my comment said a man may choose a 5 ot 6 that’s pleasant vs an 8 or 9 that a shrew. her rebuttal subtly adjusted my numbers. She retorted that she needs to see a man choose an amble 4 over a 9 before she buys it. This with the back drop of a blog post where she asserts that “women do NOT prefer bad boys”.

    That she writes a post about the issue of female programmers, specifically in gaming, is some sort of a tell….. She seems bright, but young and highly impetuous, a charge I drew often when i was in my 30’s. (I wasn’t “charged” with being bright, I was called impetuous).

    Like chiggers, all that got under my skin. Your post was somewhat related.

  2. Sojourner scribe?
    There is an old joke about how to please a man: show up naked and bring food.

    Not enough, need some bourbon as well. Or beer. Heck, both!

    Empath
    i shared that men often state they would accept a lower 1-10 scale woman who is of that easy character over a shew with a higher rank number (I realize i used “n” mistakenly as the rank, and we typically use N as number of sex partners)

    This is not a universal, to be sure, however….

    A blogger called The Practical Conservative popped in to say she doesn’t buy it, she would buy it if she could see just one man make that choice.

    I bet a dollar to a doughnut there is a man she knows in some way who has done just that, but she wouldn’t be able to see it. Because I know more than one man who has chosen a plainer women with a good attitude over a prettier but higher maintenance one. However these men obviously don’t go around saying, “Yeah, she ain’t that purty but she gives a good hummer!” or words to that effect.

    The Practical Conservative appears to be a conservative feminist, with that implies.

  3. A lot of women make the mistake that average-looking women tend to try to be nicer than very good-looking women. This justifies themselves, in their minds, for their NOT trying to be nicer …

    Hopefully all the womenz will report on the flavor of coffee or tea they just spit out.

  4. I just watched almost all of the movie (again) ‘Shallow Hal’ last night. You’ve probably all seen it. It’s curious how the movie makers took ‘appearances’ to extremes; extreme obesity, extreme disfigurement (the young girl’s facial burns), and generally more extreme ‘ugliness’ or ‘fugliness’. The spectrum of physical appearance/characteristics/traits is much wider than what they presented. They pushed the notion of ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’; in other words beauty is subjective. I believe beauty is objective to men because men are endowed with the ability to reason, which requires objectivity. But beauty is subjective to women because they are emotion-based beings. So, if anything, women are more prone than men to place far more importance on outward appearances. Tell me it isn’t so. Little wonder that ‘Appearance’ appears as number 1 on your list.

  5. AR, course its not universal about the plainer choice. I say as much to her and here in that men who make the other choice lamenting it are part of the anecdotal body of experience from which I draw my proof.

    She is a feminist, she is a conservative of sorts, but I cant pigeon hole her into that fully. There is an angry feminist in there straining against the rest.

  6. AR, course its not universal about the plainer choice. I say as much to her and here in that men who make the other choice lamenting it are part of the anecdotal body of experience from which I draw my proof.

    Skimmed the blog in question. Black woman of some education married to a white man, odds are either military or some branch of government, quite possibly greater DC area. So there’s lots of things she won’t see, that are beneath her, and could be some smouldering resentment in the background towards teh menz. Engaging in debate with women on women’s blogs is sooner or later a total waste of time in almost all cases. Especially those with a chip, who admit they are insecure.

    She is a feminist, she is a conservative of sorts, but I cant pigeon hole her into that fully. There is an angry feminist in there straining against the rest.

    Think in terms of, say, Northern Virginia upper middle class government service family, with a husband who works either at a think tank or the Pentagon or some other .gov, that’s the aura I’m seeing.

    I know men who have married women that on a Roissy scale would be a 4 at best. They married those women for reasons other than looks, intelligence and loyalty being two important factors. But I’m not going to expend time explaining that to someone who dogmatically won’t consider it. No point in talking when I’m not being listened to.

    I’m generally avoiding reading women’s blogs and commenting, because often I can’t actually share anything without a loooooong tl;dr explanation. And that’s under ideal conditions, if the blogmistress is actually looking for a fight, or for affirmation, or groupies, then there’s no real point to interacting at all.

    You’ll note I rarely post at Elspeth’s. You’ll also note I don’t bother with any other woman’s blog at all. See above for the “why”.

  7. LOL are there women who object to be objectified?

    Emp, when I was a kid the “less hot” but better attitude deal was fairly common suggestion I do but doesn’t fit today’s smp/mmp as far as I can see. When I was a kid less hot still meant thin, maybe it meant cute face and no boobs, decent face but so/ so nose…..something like that.” Less hot” now, is way, way WAY less hot then it use to be, now your talking not an extra 10 pounds but an extra 20 or more. I do think moms use to coach plainer girls to have more pleasant temperaments…. again not so much now with less hot chicks having the worst attitude in my experience. It’s not as good as strategy as it use to be

    Also, return on investment is a factor. We all know marriage is a bad deal for men which reduces the incentive for the lay up shot.

  8. Interesting. The stuff empath mentions is something I’d like to get to in another couple of posts that I’ll get to this week when I have time. The thing that stands out is the exaggerated idea–won’t go for a 4 over a 9, as though the extreme example is always what is important rather than the average. It’s like every time these discussions happens the nay sayers from a Christmas Story are saying “you’ll shoot your eye out”. Except that’s SORTA logical–it was a BB gun the kid wanted. In these cases it presumes the idea of attractive, with men being willing to settle for somewhat less attractive than they might prefer. And missing the point altogether of course.

  9. @sfcton re: “not so much now with less hot chicks having the worst attitude in my experience. It’s not as good as strategy as it use to be”

    Was it ever a good strategy, though, really? The reason the “Ugly wife, happy life” song was popular was not because it represented TRVTH but because by making this concept explicit it is seen to be amusing.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_You_Wanna_Be_Happy

  10. @ AR:

    You’re right about TPC and her husband’s ethnicity, but the rest of your analysis is a little off.

    (side bar: She wrote at TC and of all the black women (there were 3) and/or brown women (2) who wrote or commented frequently there, I was the only one whose husband isn’t white. Kind of stands out when you consider the standard trope about black women parroted in the right wing sphere)

    As for men marrying women less attractive than themselves; being a beneficiary, I know that it happens, but even a cursory reading of much of the sphere indicates that the bar for what is acceptable in terms of physical attractiveness is very high. When you consider that the great majority of the masses must by definition be in the range of average, it sounds kind of loopy.

    Empath is a much more measured, reasonable voice than most on those subjects where his pet peeve-o-meter isn’t tripped, which is why I like him and appreciate what he has to say. But I think this is one of those subjects where he is projecting his common sense thinking onto those whom have not demonstrated that they are equally reasonable.

  11. I’m not sure why the most agreeable part of my contention is being overlooked. That men snap up the 9, then regret it.

    Reading what men write about their preferences, where they aim to light, and assuming that’s where they WILL light hell or high water goal, is a little off. Deti often writes that when a man walks in a room he will size up who he’d have sex with…..not really meaning he thinks that deeply at each sighting, but he goes on that MOST of the women meet the threshold, that’s more of an honest look at male preference than the babe bloviating.

    We can do what we always do and shave the definitions every which way, or look at generality.

  12. I’m not sure why the most agreeable part of my contention is being overlooked. That men snap up the 9, then regret it.

    You’re right that it was overlooked when it shouldn’t have been.

  13. re: “men snap up the 9, then regret it”

    Yes, they do regret that she turned herself into a shrew, not that she was a 9. It’s the exact same reason the men regret snapping up the 4: she turned herself into a shrew.

  14. A woman, of a particularly race, at church recently shared that after she “snapped up” her previously bad-boy husband at a young age (she was 19 and he 26 when they got married, if I remember) after knowing he had “been with” way more than a hundred women, he gave her a venereal disease between their first and second child. He was repentant, an’ all, but she gloried in his weakness, since it lends a strength to her testimony that would have been lacking otherwise.

    “I stuck with my fine-looking mane despite him treating me so bad, and look how good he turned out!” evidently has a better ring to it, to women, than “I stuck with my nice husband despite him treating me so nice, and look how badly I can treat him and he still takes it!”

  15. Yes, they do regret that she turned herself into a shrew, not that she was a 9. It’s the exact same reason the men regret snapping up the 4: she turned herself into a shrew.

    I laughed.

    He was repentant, an’ all, but she gloried in his weakness, since it lends a strength to her testimony that would have been lacking otherwise.

    As for the woman at your church, it sounds to me like she made a terrible decision based on wrong motives (just like the man who married the shrew), but the thing about Christian marriage is that when you do it, it’s done.

  16. re: “I laughed.”

    I’ll take it; I’m evidently a dancing monkey at heart.

    Brand new research confirms the “halo effect” on women’s appearances: men rated women as better looking when the men were told the women were nice, and kind, and good women.
    Zhang Y, Kong F, Zhong Y, Kou H. 2014. Personality manipulations: Do they modulate facial attractiveness ratings? Personality and Individual Differences, 70, 80–84.
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886914003626

    In contrast, the classic “halo effect” from men’s appearances is that women erroneously rate better looking men as kinder and gooder men. In fact, women’s major complaint in dating is that nice-guy *men* erroneously believe that being nice ought to be attractive. Which, of course, it is attractive for men.

    Everything is projection, to one degree or another.

  17. It seems important to me that the halo effect is tied into objectification, but I’m having difficulty advancing any thoughts into that direction.

  18. One of the primary reasons, maybe evo-psychic-wise, that men objectify women is to overlook her many faults in favor of some fine thang or other, in order to facilitate his acceptance of her. “Yeah she mean, but what a rear end!” “Yeah she ugly, but she sure is enthusiastic!”

    In contrast, women objectify men primarily to find faults in order to reject him.

  19. I didn’t bring this up to point out how women suck. I brought it up to point out that there is hypocrisy in the way that feminists and pro-feminist church leaders talk about objectification. Idon’t have an issue at all with women nit picking their choices about men, what I have an issue with is them pretending it is perfectly justified while men objectifying women is not. Men can be shallow in their choices about women just as women can be about men.

    I think that the big difference is that men tend to be more willing to admit that it was their choices that led to that. This is why in say a romantic comedy focused on the man, there is at some point an admission that he chose the hot blonde over the hot brunette because…she was a hot blonde. He deliberately overlooked her mean spirited selfishness because he let his gonads get in the way of his thinking. By contrast, the popular meme is that the woman feels TRICKED by the attractive guy who turned out to be a jerk, even though everyone apparently could see it but her.

    What I want is for church leaders in particular (since I am a Christian) to stop making excuses for women’s stupid choices. Like that ridiculous website where the one woman says that Eve didn’t really sin in the Garden of Eden because she was deceived by the serpent. That’s like saying that Judas didn’t really betray Christ because Satan was leading him.

  20. Sojourner:
    I have a question here.
    “By contrast, the popular meme is that the woman feels tricked by the attractive guy who turned out to be a jerk, even though everyone apparently could see it but her.”

    Yesterday in the news, this story appeared:

    http://news.yahoo.com/hot-mugshot-guy-sean-kory-jeremy-meeks-145146030.html

    Now, here’s my question: neither one these two bozos are attractive. And they both have well documented character flaws. How do women justify these kinds of choices? I can’t even qualify going for such men as rational. In the case of the men you mentioned, at least physical attraction is a factor and some character flaws; but women seem to choose BOTH inferior physical AND moral qualities.

  21. One of the few men I know who is happy and married a Christan woman married a 7 at best when he use to pull hard 8’s regularly, so yea jf12 he did give up looks for some intangibles, and did so successfully. Even I have to give his wife two thumbs up. Problem is…. the pool of happily married men is to small to study and pull any major trends from

  22. re: “he did give up looks for some intangibles”

    Again, I beg to differ. He simply valued the intangibles more than the looks. One isn’t “giving up” the one-time deluxe toppings pizza when one chooses the lifetime guarantee double-meat pepperoni.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think so. As much as I may enjoy womanly beauty, there are few whose physical qualities are such that I’m actually turned off by them. I’m much more likely to be turned off by various negative intangibles.

  23. Granted, a grain of salt. This coming from a guy who “gave up” hopes for a woman to treat him nicely and settled for beauty instead, since, as I stated or intimated, the non-beauteous were equally (or moreso) non-nice to me. And I’d much rather be a slave to a beautiful queen than an ugly one.

  24. Women objectify men just as much as men objectify women, but women are not as good at it. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201205/the-triggers-sexual-desire-part-2-what-s-erotic-women
    “romance novels pay scant attention to details of their genitalia”. It’s true. But it is also true about the heroes’ faces and other attributes: women’s objectification of men seems muted and hazy because it IS muted and hazy because the men’s attributes are seen through the cloudy lens of how those attributes make the women feel. This doesn’t make the women LESS objectifying, just worse at doing it.

    One thing the PT article gets wrong is women’s objectification of men’s glutes. Despite the universal tittering about women checking out men’s butts, women like men’s butts to the same degree, or LESS, that women like to check out women’s butts. Yes, the eye-tracking studies tell us the truth. “Oh, that is so cute!”, they say, but it doesn’t make them want to have sex with a man with a good butt, and I say that as such a man. (About the only time I catch my wife looking is when I have a shirt on but no pants.) When I was young my legs and, well, lets just say all of me below my waist was a lot better than most men’s and it never helped me at all.

    It cannot be emphasized enough the extent to which men are actually turned on by, not merely aesthetically appreciative of, women’s butt’s. It, or they, are the number one object for men. The number one object for women is men’s shoulders. A man with broad shoulders (i.e. not me) really doesn’t need anything else to be physically desirable.

    Someone else previously made the point that the sight of manly forearms poking out of their sleeves is the approximate equivalent of womanly boobs poking out of their décolletage. This is true in, again, relative ranking but not absolute power of lust-attraction.

  25. It is amusing to those of us who are not starving that starving men talk incessantly about food and nothing but food. They post pictures of food, draw pictures of food, talk for hours about the fondest food memories. Men who are better about describing food will be rewarded by other men for their intricate details, fantasy-fodder, about seven course meals.You could describe these men as objectifying food, and you’d be right. But it’s really just the hunger talking; the hunger is what objectifies.

  26. Elspeth
    You’re right about TPC and her husband’s ethnicity, but the rest of your analysis is a little off.

    Ok. I based my speculation on some aspects of her blog, but I can’t say I read much, just skimmed. Seems to be some seething not far below the surface. I don’ t have to go looking for that, it’s easy to find, so…skimmed.

    (side bar: She wrote at TC and of all the black women (there were 3) and/or brown women (2) who wrote or commented frequently there, I was the only one whose husband isn’t white. Kind of stands out when you consider the standard trope about black women parroted in the right wing sphere)

    That whole paragraph is interesting but I really don’t have any opinion worth offering, due to my ignorance.

    As for men marrying women less attractive than themselves; being a beneficiary, I know that it happens, but even a cursory reading of much of the sphere indicates that the bar for what is acceptable in terms of physical attractiveness is very high.

    Yeah, well, what men are claiming to want, and what they might be willing to agree to is not always the same thing. Androsphere crimethink, I know.

    When you consider that the great majority of the masses must by definition be in the range of average, it sounds kind of loopy.

    Recall I posted on your blog: Beauty is only skin deep and pretty is as pretty does? Wife goggles don’t work all that well on shrews. Seems to me that attitude can last longer than looks…

    Empath is a much more measured, reasonable voice than most on those subjects where his pet peeve-o-meter isn’t tripped, which is why I like him and appreciate what he has to say. But I think this is one of those subjects where he is projecting his common sense thinking onto those whom have not demonstrated that they are equally reasonable.

    Well, “reasonable” is a relative term. Andrea Dworkin may well have thought she was “reasonable”, for example. Everyone likes to consider their own nature “reasonable”, no matter how unreasonable it may actually be. A lot of men in the androsphere who are justifiably angry probably still find their own position to be “reasonable”.

    OP relevant: The church leaders who continue pile more sacks of gravel onto the donkey of ManUp surely think of themselves as “reasonable”, too.

  27. AR, not sure about that reasonable thingy…am I unreasonable? Yea yea I know its relative….so thats not answer.

    Do I argue in bad faith?
    Do I elevate anecdote to data?
    Does seething ripple off my words, ever (peevishness does, not seething)

    Interesting you picked up on the TPC seething pretty quickly as I did and that Elsp misses it. I need to think about that.

  28. Interesting you picked up on the TPC seething pretty quickly as I did and that Elsp misses it. I need to think about that.

    Chalk it up to a longer history of communicating with her. I won’t deny that on some subjects the seething is there, but you’re right that I don’t pick up on it as recurring in her writings.

    One of the things I have noted is that unreasonableness is most apparent in those writers who filter everything they post through the stuff they read on the web. Like the women who come around and cllaim that the web, the world, and the church are all full of women barking at other women that women are bad, un-submissive, and at fault for all that ails their marriages. Or the men who claim that no woman over 25, over 115 pounds, or with an N>0 will ever snag a husband.

    The reason I think Empath is reasonable is because he doesn’t seem to fall into that trap. It makes him infinitely more readable than most.

  29. That’s what I thought you meant, more or less, and thank you for saying that, sincerely. The examples you gave cover lots of ground. For instance, there are women who go-to-template when facing mens issues via these blogs, they dont read ANYTHING ANYWHERE deeply, they just skim for talking points that, first and foremost, do not make them do self analyses, They favor a thick gooey topping of wry invective to go with it, like Nonya and her non stop “men watching porn in the basement who no wonder they have no wife and cant get a girl and spend all day cursing women online” crap. She has me in that pigeon hole. Its so far afield its not possible to refute because of the old saw that ends with “stop digging”.

    I know you are after a category and the specifics are less important, but let me suggest that in the example of the men claiming the 27 year old 140 pound woman will never snag a husband….this is rhetoric from them, they are being illustrative. I have answered that specifically with “no, actually she WILL get a husband, and have a choice of men to pick. They have responded agreement, meaning most of it is strategic hyperbole. I do not think that the same defense…..hyperbole…. can be said of the category Nonya fits in (sitting her specifically aside because i simple do not assign a characteristic to an individual I have zero knowledge of). They WANT to believe it. Its the second layer of defense against having to self examine. If a man raises a point that is hard to refute with silly templates, they can fall back on invective.

    Its the fabric weave of the comfy chair cushions

  30. It’s very tempting when discussing moral issues to simplify them to formulae. These formulae are also presented in lab like conditions. Other stresses are not factored in. For example the rating system for women varies by culture, era and other factors, and people tend to leave out one social factor or another.

  31. re: the objectification of leadership

    This falls into several of the original post’s categories: behavior, dealing with craziness (including rebellion), character. A lot of women objectify leadership by mistaking their own feelings as gospel “he’s leading me the way I want to be led.” I’ll gently remind women that a chauffeur is not in charge.

    I’ll go so far as to say that if you will only go in the direction you want to go the way you want to go, then you are in total rebellion. You are not merely a backseat driver, you have hijacked the vehicle; you are a relationship terrorist.

  32. Empath
    AR, not sure about that reasonable thingy…am I unreasonable? Yea yea I know its relative….so thats not answer.

    No, you are not unreasonable, at least in my opinion for what that is worth. I just have a little bad taste when I say the word “reasonable” nowadays. Probably as a result of unreasonable people trying to convince me to go along with them by saying, “Look, just be reasonable”.

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