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.