Sexual objectification almost seems to be embedded into culture, especially that of the Western world. From the moment people are born, they are subject to the forces of societal values and norms as imposed by their parents, peers, school systems, and media. Currently, these norms place an unprecedented amount of importance on appearance and physical beauty as being sexually appealing.
Although it can happen between both genders, or even between those of the same gender, objectification in a sexual way is most commonly seen in the way that men look at women. This undermines everything that women have worked so hard to achieve for the past century by reducing them from equals to mere objects to be used and controlled to fulfill men’s sexual desires.
What is Sexual Objectification?
As mere objects, women are seen to be only as good as their attractive body parts for meeting the sexual desires of men. Whether taken individually or as a combination of pieces, taking these body parts away from the whole of the woman makes her less than human.
Some common body parts that are sexually objectified by men include the legs, buttocks, breasts, eyes, and lips. However, women are human beings with feelings, free will, desires, and choices of their own. They are not just a sum of their commonly objectified parts.
Unfortunately, most objectification happens in the unconscious mind. This means that you may be unaware that you are even doing it because it just happens automatically. A lot of this comes down to the way you were raised and what you were exposed to from very early in childhood until you became an adult.
Conscious objectification is just what you would think; it is a conscious decision to objectify a woman. You are objectifying a woman if you look at certain areas of her body and find her sexually attractive based simply on these parts rather than looking at her as a whole human being.
While you might not want to believe that you would intentionally objectify women, it is important to know that the conscious mind is somewhat triggered by the unconscious thought processes that are always going on in the brain.
This does not mean that the conscious, and even unconscious, objectification cannot be controlled. It does, however, make it so much more important to control your conscious processes until they become automatic and embedded into your subconscious.
Why is Sexual Objectification of Women Harmful?
At this point, you might be thinking that it really does not do any harm to lust after a woman for the way she looks. Consequently, this is leading to major harm in the way that men treat women overall and the way that women even feel about themselves.
- Men begin to view women as inhuman and merely a piece of property to be picked up and played with then disposed of at will.
- Men begin to believe in the vision of the “ideal” woman based simply on appearance without regard to other factors that are more important.
- When men buy into the concept that women are objects, it makes it hard for them to develop relationships with real women.
- The political system, controlled mostly by men, begins to control what a woman can and cannot do to her own body.
- When women are viewed as nothing more than objects, violence against them increases including that of rape.
- Women begin to self-objectify their bodies by looking at them as separate from themselves.
- When women do not have the perfect bodies, they can develop mental illnesses, substance abuse, and eating disorders.
- Women begin to focus more on their appearance than their inner beauty, including choosing a career, developing social bonds, and even doing things to improve the world around them.
- Women have difficulty in friendships with other women as they can begin to see them as competition for male attention.
Signs You Are Sexually Objectifying a Woman
Although some of these signs may seem innocent to you, they continue the culture of sexually objectifying women in a broad sense.
- You focus on a woman’s body and appearance rather than on what she has to offer through her intelligence, kindness, or other non-physical factors.
- You look a woman up and down before looking her in the eyes to speak to her.
- You do not care what a woman wants or how she feels as long as she looks good to you.
- You only focus on her physical appearance, such as how her clothes fit her body or the way that she moves when doing certain activities, such as working out or dancing.
- You don’t care if she is annoying, unintelligence, or cruel, or about other negative personality traits.
- You rush to sexual intimacy in relationships without really getting to know the women you are with.
- You show your attractive partner off like a trophy wife.
- You only think about what a woman can do for you in a relationship and not what part you need to play in her happiness.
- You find yourself telling your girlfriend or wife what to wear, how to do her hair or makeup, or expect her to change her physical appearance for you.
- You push your physical and sexual limits with a woman, not caring about her choices or not giving her a say in the matter.
How Do I Appreciate a Woman’s Beauty without Objectifying Her?
There is nothing wrong with appreciating beauty in the world. It is even perfectly acceptable to find a woman extremely attractive. However, it is vitally important that you consider the other parts of women that you may not visibly see right away, such as their personalities, their intelligence, and their autonomy.
First of all, you need to remember that women are not property, and they are not here simply to fulfill the needs of men. They have their own thoughts, dreams, feelings, and desires just like men do. Women are autonomous human beings who are in control of their own lives.
Make a list of the ways that you find yourself objectifying women; this can be either in your head or on a physical piece of paper. Determine to catch your unconscious thoughts as they turn conscious to stop the objectification and remind yourself that women are human too. It is important for you to learn how to control your thoughts because these inherently determine your actions.
For example, if you have trouble scanning a woman’s body before you speak to her, make it a point to at least look toward her eyes when you first address her. You can practice this with a female friend or coworker. This person will likely be willing to help you when she finds out that you do not want to objectify women.
If you find that you are having trouble taming your conscious or unconscious sexual objectification of women, you may want to examine your other habits around your sexual behavior. Typically, the sexual behaviors we exhibit are not standalone issues and co-occur with other symptoms of compulsive sexual behaviors.
Begin Again Institute can help you address your struggle with sexual objectification as well as help you identify any other negative sexual behaviors.