Men don’t need to objectify women. Women objectify themselves before men ever get around to objectifying them.
Women objectify themselves whenever they wear tight, black leggings that hug every curve and sink into every crevice of their bodies. When they walk down the street or into a bus or through a lobby the leggings frame them and accentuate the movement of their hips and thighs and the sensual quiver of their derrieres.
Women objectify themselves when the walk the red carpet at awards shows or sashay into any party or make grand entrances into any event wearing bull red or shocking pink or sunshine yellow clothes that reveal their entire bodies—gowns that have slits from the top to the bottom that show off most of their breasts, most of their legs up to the very top of their thighs, and holes in between that almost leave nothing to the imagination. The women smile and strut on their red carpets or at their parties or anyplace they choose, blatantly showing themselves off to any man or any woman who cares to look.
Women objectify themselves when they paint their faces with crimson lipstick and decorate their eyes purple eye shadow and darkened or false lashes and daub their cheeks with pink rouge. They objectify themselves when they dye their hair platinum blond, and they curl their hair with an iron, and they brush a few strands of their hair down in front of one of their eyes to give themselves a mysterious quality, causing men to focus in on and objectify their faces.
Women objectify themselves when they use creams to rid them of wrinkles around the eyes or plastic surgery to remove unwanted fat or an angular nose or cheeky cheeks. They objectify themselves when they have their breasts enhanced or their butt rounded so that they will be able to project just the right physical appearance.
Women choose to objectify themselves. Nobody forces them to wear leggings or to make up their faces or botox their bodies. They will say they do it for men, that men somehow force them to objectify themselves. But they don’t do it for men. They do it for themselves and to compete with other women. Men are a very secondary consideration.
Nor do women concern themselves with whether their self-objectification will cause men to objectify them. They blissfully objectify themselves without a thought about men, and when men later see women’s objectified selves, with all their curves and crevices accentuated to the fullest, with their faces beaming from underneath their love paint, if a man gives them even the slightest look that may signify to them some degree of objectification, woe is he.
Long before the phrase “objectify women,” was used as a slogan by feminists to denote men who only look at women as sexual objects and nothing else, women were dressing fetchingly and men were looking at them. From cave men and women onward, the history of humankind consists of young women dressing up in order to catch a man’s eye, and men looking at the women who dressed up to catch their eyes.
Men are biologically designed to look at women as sexual objects. Male and female humans, like other mammals, are hard-wired to reproduce their species, and they come equipped with the appropriate sexual anatomy, sexual hormones and gender-specific responses to do just that. So, in fact, there is nothing wrong with a man objectifying a woman—that is, being attracted to a woman—as long as he doesn’t do it full-time.
Today, according to my sources, the National Organization of Women is run mostly by lesbian and transgender women. As far as I know, lesbian and transgender women have no problem appreciating pretty women. But when they look at women, they don’t refer to it as objectifying women. They only label men as the ones who objectify women.
If we are going to criticize and stigmatize men for objectifying women, then shouldn’t we also criticize and stigmatize women for objectifying themselves? Men are constantly shamed for objectifying women and told to clean up their acts and treat women with respect. But women who objectify themselves in order to make themselves more sexually appealing are not shamed. When they walk down the red carpet and reveal almost everything they have, they are applauded as heroes—as “empowered women” who are expressing their femininity.
There is something awry here. Shouldn’t there be the same value system for both sexes? Women who objectify themselves and lesbians who objectify women should be viewed through the same lens as men who objectify women. However, to be really fair and appropriate, we should dispense with the term, “objectify women.” When men are looking at women because they are biologically attracted to them, or if women are preening themselves because they are biological predisposed to do that, neither should be stigmatized for it.
Perhaps we should say that men are reacting to pretty women from a hormonal perspective, and women are hormonally predisposed to show off their bodies.
See also: Harvesting The Male Gaze