Is objectification the same as oppression?

This is a real question I’m posing to the universe.  This is a thinking out loud type post so comments are truly appreciated.  Dissenters welcome, as long as you are respectful.

 Perhaps it could be better stated as: Is objectification always a type of, or symptom of,  oppression?

 I would say that objectification of women as a class is oppressive.  That is to say viewing all women as merely objects, yes oppressive.  (or anyone in power viewing any group as objects for that matter.)   But what if you are walking down the street and notice a woman and you find her really attractive.  You are never going to meet this person.  You’re not hollering cat calls at this person, but you think to yourself, “wow, hot.”  Or maybe even remark to a friend that sentiment. 

 Is this oppressive to that person?  Is it even really objectifying them if your behaviors are not changed toward this person? 

Now really I’m asking because I want equality, and I want to check out guys.  Am I objectifying them?  Is the only thing that keeps me from being an oppressor my status as a disenfranchised individual? 

 Because if that’s so, that’s not who I want to be. 

 Should we totally turn off our hormonal reactions?  I would say that is impractical and silly.  I don’t think checking some one out because they are physically attractive is wrong.  I do think that basing all judgments on a person’s physical attributes is wrong. 

 I think the big difference is that, if you do meet or talk to that person, you acknowledge them as that: a person, and not just pretty thing to look at. 

But to say that one leads to the other is the same old anti-pot argument I dislike.  People who do heroin generally started with something like pot, so pot is an evil gateway drug.  I bet a lot of people who use heroin also ate popcorn at some point in their life.  And there exist a lot of people who use pot and don’t use harder drugs. 

I think the same could be said about checking people out.  Of course I may just be trying to rationalise my own behavior. 


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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I actually have an article I link back to anytime I come across this question — so here, have a read :)<a href=””But Don’t You Like To Be Objectified Sometimes?

    Money quote:

    Being objectified, being verbally or sexually abused, is often said to merely be the same thing as attraction. It’s a compliment, it’s an honor to be harrassed on the street. Being a desireable object is confused with being a desireable human being. Being made into a thing to be used, which exists solely for the purpose of this use and is judged only on its usefulness, is not the same as being found attractive at all.

  2. Oh man, my link fucked up. But Don’t You Like To Be Objectified Sometimes?

  3. I disagree with her definition of objectification. According to her, the activities I’m calling into question are not objectification but “Attraction.” There are some comments where she discusses that more. Her Definition seems to include harassment of some sort and I don’t think that’s accurate.

    Also, according to her porn is not objectification of humans. I disagree with that. I also think that is a separate discussion from whether or not porn is ok. Just because someone is complicit in being objectified doesn’t mean it’s not happening. (esp. in porn. The viewer doesn’t often sit and think, “I bet she is a full and complete person outside of this arena”) The viewer does the objectifying whether or not the view-ee is aware of it, or complicant.

    When I check out a cute ass on a surfer, the surfer has no choice whether to accept this as ok or not. I’ve already done it by the time they notice (if at all). But the process of objectification still happens. In that moment I’m not seeing that person as a person, but as a “wow that’s fun to look at object.”

    This is a tolerated type of objectification by me. the difference, as I see it, is whether or not the objectify-er is willing to see the objectify-ee as a person. If I met the hot surfer somewhere else, I wouldn’t dismiss what he says as trivial just because he has a nice ass. He has the potential of being a person to me. Just because I’m not seeing him as “only” an object, doesn’t mean that I’m not seeing him as an object at all.

    Also her definition of objects is innacurate. That they are explicitly tools to be used. a glacier is an object, but I don’t think I will ever use one, or that that is it’s purpose.

  4. No, I don’t think you are objectifying a person by looking at them and finding them attractive. If it is someone you actually know, or meet, and you then treat them as “merely” a possible sexual conquest without any concern for them as a person, then that would be objectifying. Even with that, it falls more to how you behave than what you think.

    As long as you treat someone with respect, even though you may not feel that, you are not harming the other person. If you have a relationship with someone, but treat them only as a sex object and not a person, then you are objectifying them in a negative, physical way. Even if you have horrible thoughts at times, I think we all do, what matters is what you do.

    However, if you are out on a date and visibly ogling others, then in a way you are objectifying your date, by treating him as if he were there only as an accessory to you and of no value as a person since you are showing so much disrespect. So, sneak all the peeks you want, just don’t make it obvious that all you’re doing is rating them on a scale of 1-10. If this should happen, smile sweetly and move on. I don’t think anyone really minds feeling worthy of a second glance.

  5. Nora- But for me I think it is the same as to think or as to act. The buddha says we are the result of all we have thought. (not that I haven’t messed up in that regard) I must continue to try to be able to think as like not just act as I like. And I would like to think loving humanizing thoughts.

    I still think I am objectifying them in that moment. especially if it is someone at a distance that I never talk to. I am merely looking at them as an object that is nice to look at. then I never see them again. I am open to the idea that they are full humans if I speak to them. but often I don’t speak to them.

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