I do knows this is a path angels fear to tread and I have to think carefully before this piece was drafted. My final conviction was hinged on what is the essence of journalism if not to openly raise debate and elevate conversation the society can gain from without fear or favour? Beyond this, there is no any ulterior motive for this piece.
While checking its meaning, I understand sexual objectification is the ‘act of treating a person as a mere object of sexual desire’. In general terms it is trading a person as a commodity or object without due regard to their personality and dignity. Kent thinks sexual objectification is offering a person for profit with a view of satisfying the target of the objectification with a form of sensual feeling.
First, how did we get here? Some claim sexual objectification is a product of pop culture. They argue it is pop culture that sells lies to women. This lies promote the notion real value of women lies in how sexy they appear to others. According to this school, this lie dehumanises women personality and speak volumes about their subordinate role to men. This position breeds inequality and raises a lot of human right issues.
The import of the anti-pop culture critics is that women projected in this image will always strive to measure up against men. Meanwhile they are complete human like men.
On the other hand, pop culture supporters have argued blaming pop culture as the only factor that subjugates women rights is betraying high level of ignorance. They pointed to several other cultures which are against sexual objectification of women but are worst in women right issues. They point accusing fingers at cultures like Arabs and traditional Africa which see women as men’s item who must covered their bodies against the prying eyes of other men outside their husbands.
A neutral school maintains sexual objectification is an opportunity to be all that women want to be. This school claims it is no evil as long as it is well accepted by women. The question is who started such narrative and how did it become acceptable? Could it be a case of when lie is constantly sold it normally becomes a truth? The other side of the argument is what exactly is the truth aside from what each society calls it. There are truths in some societies which are considered as outright lies in others.
Whatever we say and whichever school we belong, sexual objectification promotes wrong and unrealistic meaning of what beauty and sexiness means. A known author once affirmed ‘those who made money in sexual objectification hurt women’. Those who engage in it go all out to tell women to always strive to appeal to men. Albeit physically at the detriment of building values and personal dignity. This often is a psychological programming without the use of words.
Sexual objectification does not achieve much than to position women as sex object. A toy to be used and dumped when the urge had been satisfied.Sexual objectification in its root encourages women to be sexually expressive, a lane men are strategically not encouraged to follow. That for me is double standard and insincerity. It is a clever way of telling the village king he is the best in his birthday suit while no villager wants to go to the market square in their own.
While some believe sexual objectification of women is neither good nor bad, its noted failure becomes visible when one understands its subtle spread of wrong myth which perpetuates acceptable lies women must above anything else strive to appeal to men. The big question is where is this myth leading women to? Except from widening the gap of inequality and inferiority of women to men. Will this myth ever strengthen women’s desire and aspiration to take the lead? Is there no acknowledgement of women as second fiddle in this act and art?
Another noted damage sexual objectification had done to some women is to push them towards striving to match up with men. In the process some had developed various shades of mental health issues as they are meant to be complete women and not Men. Yet our society suffers and tolerates this evil orchestrated by media and entertainment world. To add insult upon injury the pro women activists like me had responded with deafening silence because not many want to be classified as politically incorrect.
In all these, a valid argument I have heard was that our society and education have not be wholesome and helpful. Our education system has not been able to help differentiate between sex and sexual objectification. Women can be sexual without objectifying themselves. These are different and unrelated point we have missed.
A workable step suggested by some is that if we must deal with sexual objectification at the source, parents must be actively involved in their girl’s grooming from the scratch. They must teach them how to be independent and free their minds from the images the media and the entertainment world want them to be before they are whole.
Olaita resides in Lagos.