How Not to Objectify Women
The ultimate guide for seeing and treating women like more than a “piece of ass”.
I’m chilling in a bar with my friend, and he shows me a picture of an actress and says something along the lines of “she is… phwoar…”. I get a little pissy and tell him to stop objectifying women, and he replies: “I’m not objectifying women, I’m appreciating beauty.”
The response strikes a nerve, because I once heard the exact same words from a group of guys harassing me on a street in Cuba. One had come up to me and said something suggestive, and then his mates had all surrounded me, jockeying to make the lewdest sexual comment. I tried to get past, and when they blocked me, I tried to laugh it off. Then I tried to get angry.
“Relax, it’s fine,” one guy said. “This is our way of celebrating beauty.”
In case you were in any doubt, this did not make me feel beautiful. It made me feel like an object, whose desires and needs did not matter. They robbed me of my agency in a very literal and visible way: I could not get past unless they let me. I was scared and surrounded by their bodies — stronger than mine, bigger than mine. Male bodies. Bodies for doing, bodies for fighting. And in the middle, my body. Female body. A body for watching, a body for the taking.
There is a wide gap between these two incidents, but the fact that the same argument cropped up in both got me thinking: is checking a woman out inherently objectifying?
I’m pretty sure that while most people would not condone surrounding a woman in a pack to tell her she is hot and pressure her for sex, making a comment to a friend in a bar about how attractive a woman would be generally seen as fine. But really, they both stem from one same mentality, that a woman’s body is a thing to be admired and judged, touched and used, all for the benefit of men. Describing an actress as phwoar ultimately helps uphold a system where men see women passing them on the street as their property.