It is true that the sexual objectification of women – by some men – has probably been going on since human beings first graced the earth. It is no secret and we all know about it. In fact, before beginning this blog, I Googled, ‘the objectification of men’, curious to see what would come up… and there were 3,680,000 results. One of the first things I found was what I personally considered to be just another vitriolic rant accusing (collectively) white, middle-class males of being wolf-whistling, leering, rapist pricks, by (I assume) a woman, who was gleefully informing them (collectively) that as long as they were going to objectify women, then she was going to objectify them. Fair enough.
But I think that the writer might have been misunderstanding something… maybe. Is it possible that the type of man who enjoys sexually objectifying women isn’t going to be too bothered about being sexually objectified by women? I can’t say for sure, but my guess is that he probably wouldn’t crumble under the pressure.
However, objectification isn’t only about the physical body and sex. There are other ways to objectify a person, and women are not immune from guilt!
So, in what way could a woman objectify a man, without even realising that she is doing so?
Well, by assessing a man as a potential partner without really seeing him as a human being! Viewing him through the lens of desire and need for emotional intimacy and commitment, without really understanding who he is and where he is currently at in his life – mentally and emotionally speaking – is often one of the major causes of dating disappointment and subsequent feelings of rejection.
Not listening… or not hearing?
For example, Caroline has been ‘friends’ with Tom for a couple of months, but he has explained that he isn’t interested in getting into a committed relationship right now. He obviously enjoys her company, but seems to disappear into his inner world every now and then, becoming quiet and unresponsive. She knows that he is still struggling with his own emotions, particularly where his ex is concerned, but she wants him to open up to her… so that she can help him get over it, and become ready to move on. She has become increasingly frustrated, angrily telling herself that he is just using her, and that he is hiding things from her – whilst continuing to hold onto the idea of him becoming the committed partner she craves.
The problem is, Caroline is not seeing Tom-the-human-being, Tom-the-man: she is seeing Tom–the-one-I-want-as-my-partner. She isn’t recognising that he’s not currently in a position to enter into a new relationship – which naturally requires a huge amount of emotional input – because he just isn’t mentally equipped for it right now, and may not be for some time to come. He is going through a process of recovery, which will take the shape and form it needs and as much time as it needs. He hasn’t lied to her, because he has made it clear that although he enjoys her company that’s all he has to offer her right now. She can choose to be physically intimate with him on that basis, if she wishes to, but she should avoid it if it is going to lead her to expect more of him. The truth is, even though they get along well with one another other in many ways, they are on completely different pages and are at different stages. Tom-the-committed-mutually-supportive-partner is not available, because Tom-the-emotionally-battered-soul is struggling to handle his relationship with himself.
Yes… but is he into ME?
And there is Jennifer, who met and hit it off with a guy called Martin, someone with whom she felt she had so much in common. They talked for hours, although it wasn’t officially a date, and over the following days he sent texts that hinted at him ‘liking’ her… only to suddenly become more business-like. Jennifer went from feeling excited to hurt and silly, and her defences immediately snapped into place. The problem is, she was viewing him through the narrow perspective of one who is looking for a partner first and foremost, which always creates tension… because, the moment we become emotionally invested we potentially have something to lose… including our pride!
Jennifer knew that Martin was impressed by her knowledge and achievements; she knew that he was in the process of entering into further education; she knew that he had come out of a long-term relationship in the not too distant past, and that he had been travelling. She was aware of him as an attractive man, and the way in which he responded to her. What she wasn’t taking into account was the way in which she was responding to him… and how he was processing that. He clearly liked her, and felt that she liked him too… and yet, she was coming across in a clipped, cool way, and he started to believe that he had misread the situation and overstepped the mark. She was trying not to appear too keen, and was wary because of previous dating disasters. He was nervous about becoming involved in a new relationship… but he still felt drawn to Jennifer, even a little in awe of her, and was pleased that she appeared to want to get to know him. He had been re-finding himself, spending time alone, busying himself with his projects – but Jennifer suddenly crossed his path and he found himself open to the idea of learning more about her… even though the thought terrified him! Jennifer was unable to feel the man behind the long, exploratory chat, and gain insight from the snippets he had offered up, because she was trying to figure out whether or not he was into her, what his texts were really saying… and whether or not he could be trusted!
The question is, why do these things have to escalate so swiftly? Why do we need to be in such a hurry to have everything pinned down, boxed off, and labelled? Why do things have to be either black and white or completely written off when there is an attraction between two individuals? I am not suggesting that every time a woman is interested in a guy that she is automatically objectifying him (and vice versa, of course). But it does happen – and not infrequently – that the idea of a relationship takes over before any real communication has occurred.
And if it emerges that a man is resistant to commitment, this can sometimes be met by resistance to the resistance! Working out where his resistance is emanating from, and why he feels resistant, would be wiser and more productive than fighting against it, or reacting in a rejected way – without, of course, demanding or automatically expecting that insight!
It may be that he is always going to be resistant to the idea of a committed relationship – for reasons that don’t make sense to us – and therefore would not be a compatible prospect for the woman who is seeking commitment.
It could be that he has valid reasons for feeling afraid of commitment, but which he could eventually work through with the right kind of partner for him.
It could be that he just doesn’t want to rush into anything, and that it is the hurry he is resistant to, rather than commitment! However, it is going to be difficult to work out which group a man belongs to if it is believed that his job is to just shut-up and put-up and be a partner!
Of course, there are many guys out there who are game players and who aren’t actually interested in genuinely getting to know a woman. I think it was Jordan Peterson who said something that rang true with me about the disposable nature of the modern world of dating – that the internet has created a never ending catalogue of potential love interests, and so, many people just move on to the next one and then the next. And it is my observation that because of this ‘sweet shop’ mentality, people are sometimes encouraged to try and punch above their weight! Perfectly decent, loving individuals may well be by-passed by idiots who believe that they have a God given right to the sexiest or the most physically stunning propositions out there – and love doesn’t even begin to enter into it. In this blog I am not talking about those people, and those situations… I am talking about two individuals starting to make a connection, only for the process to become stunted by the need to prematurely define the nature of the relationship and override any issues that require attention.
There isn’t anything wrong at all in fancying someone else, but for it to move swiftly from feeling attracted to becoming caught up in tension and over-analysis, whilst wondering if this person is going to be the one, shows that a very important part of the process is missing… the heart and soul of it, in fact.
And this often comes about because it is difficult for many people to accurately recognise what is real and what isn’t, where attraction and flirting is concerned. A man may be very adept at the game of flirting without actually having any real intention of developing a relationship; a woman may also be very poor at recognising the difference between banter and a genuine come-on. It is honestly tricky, and the secret is to not become too invested before understanding an awful lot more about the person in question, and the dynamic of the situation. And if a woman has a list of potential partners (which tends to happen as a result of visiting online dating sites), wondering which of the men could possibly be the best or most likely bet, there is often a lack of the kind of substantial knowledge, about each of the individuals, that would be required in order to even begin to consider them as a long-term prospect.
Don’t shoot the messenger!
I am aware that this blog may attract some negative feedback, but you know, women are not created from paper-thin crystal, ready to shatter the moment the wind blows a little too hard… despite popular opinion in some quarters! We can handle a bit of straight talking, we can be open to self-reflection. Before I wrote my booklet, Attraction And Dating: How To Successfully Navigate The Honeytrap (now available as a blog), I did some research into other books on the subject… and everything I read ‘spoke’ to women as if we are precious flowers who deserve (that word came up a lot!) nothing less than to be cherished and treated like goddesses. I suppose that’s because the authors actually want to sell their books and receive 5 star reviews on Amazon, and as a writer I have no argument with that! But, the whole thing made me uneasy, as if we women are being patronised and approached as if we are so entitled and hyper-sensitive that the world has to tread on eggshells around us. I am a woman and I don’t want that! Of course I want my relationship to be loving, respectful and mutually supportive, which it is… but it has required a lot of time, patience, and tolerance, plus the willingness on both sides to continue to learn and grow. But, in the past, I have been involved in many, many dating/relationship dramas, and have definitely needed some real straight talking and a change of attitude! Sometimes we are at the root of our own problems and the quicker we wake up to that fact the better!
The a*******s have hijacked the sweet shop!
Sadly, pressure to be in a relationship seems to be hugely on the increase; the need to go from A to Z with a love interest – as fast as possible – is growing… and yet the world of dating is becoming more and more tricky and complex. And yes, I do actually think that a certain type of man can be held largely responsible for that! Again, think of the internet as a huge sweet shop (or candy store, for my American readers!); in the old days, men with wandering eyes, or men who thought that they were worthy of only the ‘hottest’ women (by that I mean their version of hot), or men who were actually too immature or unprepared for a grown-up relationship, did not have world-wide access to an endless selection of women – they were confined and limited. Now those buggers are running free around the sweet shop, picking and choosing, tasting and handling the goods before dumping them back on the shelf again… not to mention packaging and presenting themselves as much, much sweeter treats than they really are! This attitude has now spilled over into ‘real life’, unfortunately, and is no longer only applicable to online dating. And this is all the more reason for women not to fall into the trap of objectifying men, and not to rush in like a crazy thing! The sad part is, men who are genuinely open to the idea of a committed relationship (and yes girls, they do exist!) are becoming wary because women are becoming more anxious and pushy, thanks to the a*******s, and so barriers are being erected that are making the process of finding a compatible, loving partner seem almost impossible. All I can say is that the passage of time always reveals the truth in the world of dating, and a relaxed, open-minded approach is a girl’s best friend (the diamonds come later!).
Tit-for-tat… or not?
And as for the blog writer who sees it as her right to sexually objectify men in order to even things up, it is my belief that two wrongs just make another wrong. Everyone is entitled to their own views and opinions, of course, and I imagine that she belongs to a different generation than mine, and so in her world that approach might make sense. But it all comes down to what we are actually trying to achieve… doesn’t it? If our intention is to turn the tables and become the aggressor, then tit-for-tat is probably the way to go; if, however, our intention is to remove unnecessary stress, strain and heartache from our life, and give ourselves a better chance of meeting a loving, mutually interested partner – well, we know what to do… and we also know what not to do!