Roles versus People – Objectification on both sides of the fence

In: Ray LaMontagne – Be Here Now

In the course of corresponding with a woman on an online dating site I shared a link to a post on this blog that I thought she would get a kick out of…

But first, let me digress. Art is subjective. Something I’d heard but didn’t understand until I started doing the kind of photography that people would actually pay for. It’s subjective in that unless there’s a very singular or strong subject two people can look at it and have different reactions. Not as extreme as love/hate or good/bad but what I’ve found is that there’s an internal association made when they’re exposed to the work. E.g., DSC_2232VI could show the same pic of a beach scene and one person may be indifferent ‘cause they don’t like the beach or think the shot is cliché, another may be thrilled because it reminds them of a family vacation they took when they were eight years old, and a third may love it because it has their two favorite colors strongly represented. Ya’ just never know.

… So the comment I got back on this site, among other things, was that I was objectifying women and continuing the damage heaped upon them. I think this was meant as constructive criticism but I’m not sure since it was a comment from a stranger in an email. And no, she didn’t post her response on the site – which, for me, would’ve been a move towards actual dialogue and given the statement greater weight. I’m always willing to listen and see something from a different perspective. I call it learning. Anyway, upon reading I immediately spit out my beer in disbelief, threw down my porno mag, called one of the hot chicks in my phone’s address book, ya know, the one with three x’s next to her name and asked her what she was wearing. Ha ha. I kid. I called one of my best friends in the hopes, of course, that she would side with me, tell me everything was fine and the other person was dead wrong. People are funny, especially friends. My bff said, of course you’re objectifying women. And I said, what about all the self-deprecating humor? The underscored hypocrisy and satire!? She said, well, some people might not get that and maybe this particular reader also feels a need to rescue others from “bad men” like me… and it went on like that for a short while. Instant messaging is great. I think I typed an unhappy face at some point.   😦

Hmm… I let that bubble in the back of my head for a few months. By the way, I’m a dad who’s trying to raise an incredibly tough minded and strong daughter with a good sense of self-esteem. So you can kinda’ get why I couldn’t let this evaporate. So, several months later, do I treat women like objects? Absolutely! Hold on, it’s fairer to say we all treat folks that way independent of gender, I’m just admitting it. It’s also scenario dependent. Do I need what you have to accomplish whatever my current goals are? It’s a means of navigating through life and it’s probably only bad if you choose to be overly reliant on it. In which case this will be the least of your undiagnosed problems.

Related Topic: Stereotyping – we all do it. Turns a grey world with fuzzy characters and hierarchies into a much more readily digestible black and white zone that’s far easier to navigate thanks to more clearly defined associations. At a personal level the problems start when folks don’t want to stay within our envisioned framework and we choose to correct them instead of ourselves. Just putting that out there…

In the case of writing a post I’m not about to turn people into ridiculously over described and distracting Steve King-esque characters (I read The Stand and that was pretty much the beginning and end for me). I’m using them as elements to either move things along or as examples. This applies to everyone including myself. As I’ve stated elsewhere, there is the real Steve and there is the Steverino character in my posts. You are not going to get to know me solely through text/email/blog/whatever as I discussed here. If that troubles your brow feel free to stop reading Right Now ‘cause I’m about to show you what bugs me about some women’s online profiles where they do much worse than objectify men for literary reasons:

“Looking for Mr. Right”
“R U my soulmate?”
“Looking for soulmate”
“Looking for my prince” Or “I want to be your princess” – Same thing.
“Looking for Unicorn” – Ok, I made this one up. 🙂

These are headlines I’ve seen on some women’s profiles. Taken out of context they don’t seem terribly unusual. Then there’s the body of their profile message where lotsa’ folks lay out some of their likes/dislikes then what they’re hoping to find in a prospective friend/lover/whatever. The problem I have is when these kinds of headlines are only followed by a single paragraph that only supports that headline and does not say anything at all about the poster. “Need someone who will make me laugh, be life partner, friend for life, sit with me by fire place, handy with tools…” blah, blah, blah. Fine, but what do they offer in return? As I said earlier no one should ever hang a lot on this print stuff anyway, but from a marketing perspective it’s, “Man wanted, apply within” with not even a hint of compensation. I’m a man and that’s how I read it, my “manpinion”. But wait, you say, isn’t that extreme objectification? I’m sure to some people it sounds much tamer than, “Looking for porn star” but I say it’s more insidious! Princes rescue people, soulmates “complete” people, Mr. Right is an out and out fantasy creature akin to a unicorn – a unicorn(!), porn stars just have sex. The first three can make a person sound like they’re struggling through life or are lonely and need just the right object or element added to be happy. The last one, when used with plenty of caution, is just good fun and exercise unless, of course, you’re an addict then, puh-leeze, don’t shake my hand. I argue that these women, who are objectifying my fellow men as saviors, are missing out on the grand journey and joy of life. Meeting the other folks on this big ball of dirt. Just. For. Fun.

My suggestion: suppress the end relationship goal you already have firmly in mind, frankly it’s scary that you’re more interested in filling a whole in your head than getting to know me. Start with going out, having a good time, giving as much as you get, and like will attract like. 🙂

Out: Death Cab For Cutie – Bixby Canyon Bridge

4 thoughts on “Roles versus People – Objectification on both sides of the fence

  1. That’s the whole thing, dude. They’re not *OFFERING* ANYTHING! 😀

    The whole game is laid out as a gal looking for a guy to make her life worth living. That’s all well and good and I can do that for you, definitely, but what’s in it for me? The satisfaction of having made someone’s life worthwhile? That’s what KIDS are for.

    Then, if they’re offering you anything AT ALL, it’s the same thing every other chick’s offering. 😀 So they want you to not interact with the rest of the gals that are trying to do the same thing with you that she is, for WHAT reason again? So HER life can be better and not THEIRS, for having spent time with you? haha okayyyyyyy 😉

    It’s funny that she got you with the old “objectifying women” label, like you’re supposed to do something different. I’m sure she would have liked it better if you hadn’t noticed she’s a female at all.. Except.. WHOOPS!!! You wouldn’t have been talking to her IN THE FIRST PLACE because you met her ON A DATING SITE!!! hahaha

    For that, she should remove her gender description and see how many raps she gets.

    Idiotic, Yet Typical. 😀

    1. Billl, thinking about it she was likely repeating something she’d been told but hadn’t really thought through AND she wasn’t presenting it as a subject for argument or challenge. The latter is a FAIL any ol’ way because she started out with one of us having to be dead wrong. Not saying that’s unusual but people who want me to drink the Kool-Aid or shut up do not pass through the filter.

      The truth is the truth. It’s not a comfort zone where everything we want to be real is. Plenty of truths make me squirm and doubt as well but at least it leads me to fully informed decisions. Fortunately this and some other recent discussions this past week have led me to a working title for a new post, Test Your Truth, which means I’m about 95% ready to start writing it. I’ll try to stay away from any “dangerous philosophy” but who knows. 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s