Saturday, March 7, 2015

Sexual Objectification

Once upon a time, women used to object to the exploitation of women in the media, to the sexual objectification of women to promote goods and services. Perhaps they still do. At least, I hope so. But has this actually achieved anything? Is there any less exploitation of women for this purpose than there ever was? Not so that you would notice.

Instead, what we see more and more nowadays is the sexual objectification of men for the same purpose. I would never claim that this is as widespread as the exploitation of women, but it is on the increase.

So what is happening here? Is this the result that the feminist movement, seeking to put an end to the sexual objectification of women, wanted to achieve? Is this the ‘equality’ feminism sought? There is no less sexual objectification of women in the media today than twenty, thirty, forty years ago. There is probably more. And now we have the sexual objectification of men too.

I don’t blame feminism for this at all. But I do think that no feminist should celebrate this. It’s a bizarre victory, if it’s a victory at all. It’s as if we lived in a society in which women (and only women) were held as slaves—some might say we do, indeed, live in such a society. Women in this society, free women and slaves alike—and even some men—rise up to protest this gross injustice. They win equality! Now men can be kept as slaves too.

I would have thought that the sexual objectification of any person, male or female, to sell some crappy product, is offensive. Not because it is sexual per se, but because it is exploitative. It exploits both the person used to promote the product and the person buying it. But then, when did ethics ever count for anything in advertising?

Some women perhaps savour the sweet taste of revenge when seeing men exploited in this way. Fair enough. Who can blame them? Perhaps the female slaves in our imagined society also rub their hands together with glee at seeing men now enslaved alongside them. Tomorrow, though, they will still wake up as slaves.

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