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 misunderstood 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 first and foremost, before understanding him as a human being. Automatically expecting emotional intimacy and commitment, without really understanding who he is and where he is currently at in his life, mentally and emotionally speaking. This approach is one of the major causes of dating disappointment, and is usually accompanied by 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 (with her). She has become increasingly frustrated, angrily telling herself that he is just using her, and that he is hiding things from her – whilst at the same time holding 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 is something that naturally requires a huge amount of emotional input) because he just isn’t mentally equipped for it right now – and is unlikely to be for some time to come. He is going through a process of recovery, something he can only do in his way and in his own time. 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 each 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 still 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 can so easily create tension. The moment we become emotionally invested, asking, “is this person ‘the one’?”, 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. Because she was so keen she was desperately trying not to appear too keen! He still felt drawn to Jennifer, even though he was nervous about becoming involved in a new relationship. 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! Unfortunately, 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 too busy 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 big 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 actually demanding that insight, of course!).
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; therefore, he 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… that he would eventually work through, if he was with the appropriate kind of partner for him (who would also have to be a patient one!).
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, 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 made sense to 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 this ‘sweet shop’ mentality encourages some people to adopt an entitled attitude. Perfectly decent, loving individuals may well be passed by, by idiots who believe that they have a God given right to the sexiest or the most physically stunning propositions out there; you know the kind… the ones who are more interested in fantasy and competition than they are in a genuine relationship. In this blog, I am not talking about those people and those situations; I am talking about two individuals who start to make an initial connection – only for the process to become screwed over 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 like mad. However, for it to move swiftly from attraction to tension and over-analysis shows that a very important part of the process is missing… the heart and soul of it, in fact.
Don’t shoot the messenger!
You know, women are not created from paper-thin crystal, ready to shatter the moment the wind blows a little too hard. We can handle a bit of straight talking, and we can be open to self-reflection. Recently, I did a bit of research into other books on the subject of dating – and virtually 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 felt patronised, not to mention irritated, by the idea that we are so entitled and hyper-sensitive that men should 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 (most of the time!). But, it has taken time, patience, and tolerance, plus the willingness on both sides to continue to learn and grow. 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 were too immature to develop a grown-up relationship, did not have world-wide access to an endless selection of women – they were confined and limited. They are now 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 presenting themselves as much sweeter treats than they really are). All of this is why women should avoid falling into the trap of objectifying men, and rushing in like a crazy thing! The fact 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 more pushy – thanks to the players. It’s becoming a lose-lose situation. All I can say is that it is the passing of time that reveals the truth in the world of dating – and a relaxed, open-minded approach is definitely a girl’s best friend (the diamonds come later!).
Tit-for-tat… or not?
As for the blog writer who sees it as her right to sexually objectify men in order to even up the score, it is my belief that two wrongs just make another wrong. Everyone is entitled to their personal opinion, and I imagine that she belongs to a different generation than mine; in her world that approach might make sense. But, surely, 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 emotional pain from our life, whilst giving 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!