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Musings of Misfits and Malcontents

Objectification and the Lost Art of Women

Objectification and the Lost Art of Women

(Words and Art by Amanda)

 
1463569_10202462505875089_1151651917_nWhen my son was about five, we were in an outdoor pottery store, one of those places that is a maze with thousands of items, plants, fountains, statues, forgotten treasures. I came around the corner and found him entranced, staring at a figurine of a primitive fertility goddess. It being more abstract than literal, he cocked his head side-to-side trying to make sense of the short, squatty mass with enormous breasts. He was hooked.

Having tasted, so to speak, the forbidden fruit, I caught him a few days later with his hands up the skirt of a mannequin, doing some investigative work. When I called out his name, completely mortified, he pulled his hands out, glued them to his side and gave me a look that said, “I know that was bad. But it was totally worth it!”

Women were a mystery he had to figure out.

1426736_10202462506275099_128451140_nThe female body has been viewed as a work of art for thousands of years. Take a walk through an art museum and there are nudes everywhere; muses of the artists, mistresses, wives, models, figments of men’s imaginations. I can’t blame them, as a straight female, I find the female body glorious — it’s mesmerizing.

At some point, the awe evoked by the female form was twisted, perverted, and capitalized upon as a one-stop pleasure mill. She was no longer a mystery, but an excavated tourist attraction with cheap trinkets, void of substance, defaced of history and significance. Granted, prostitution is the oldest industry, but that’s sex, not visual allure.

With ever-present access to digitalized naked women, women in the flesh are becoming obsolete. To quote Bono in his effigy to porn, “It’s even better than the real thing.” It’s better, because it’s fantasy, with no strings attached.

1455009_10202462506035093_627710044_nYears ago when porn was made available on the internet, feminists feared that the rate of sexual assaults would skyrocket; men wouldn’t be able to control themselves. Not so. In the article “The Porn Myth” by Naomi Wolf, she elaborates:

But the effect is not making men into raving beasts. On the contrary: The onslaught of porn is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women, and leading men to see fewer and fewer women as “pornworthy.” Far from having to fend off porn-crazed young men, young women are worrying that as mere flesh and blood, they can scarcely get, let alone hold, their attention.

Just as the questions arise in regards to human violations and torture, “Who is hurt more by the violence? The abuser or the abused?” the present pornified world could ask the same — “Who is hurt more? Men or women?” In my opinion, the damage runs deep on both sides.

Wolf goes on:

For two decades, I have watched young women experience the continual “mission creep” of how pornography—and now Internet pornography—has lowered their sense of their own sexual value and their actual sexual value. When I came of age in the seventies, it was still pretty cool to be able to offer a young man the actual presence of a naked, willing young woman. There were more young men who wanted to be with naked women than there were naked women on the market. If there was nothing actively alarming about you, you could get a pretty enthusiastic response by just showing up. Your boyfriend may have seen Playboy, but hey, you could move, you were warm, you were real. Thirty years ago, simple lovemaking was considered erotic in the pornography that entered mainstream consciousness: When Behind the Green Door first opened, clumsy, earnest, missionary-position intercourse was still considered to be a huge turn-on.

When I finally went back to college to finish my degree I was in my mid-30’s, so instead of being asked to frat parties, I was the surrogate “mother” to a few of the young girls in my classes. I remember one girl told me about a boy she had gotten to know. They had been friends for months, he was always ladening her with compliments, and eventually pursued her sexually. She made it clear she wasn’t interested, but he was persistent. After making it clear multiple times, he finally asked her, “Well, if you won’t sleep with me, will you take some pornographic pictures of yourself so I can look at you while I pleasure myself?” She told me she died inside.

This girl had felt valued by someone she trusted and when it was all stripped away, she really wasn’t what he had wanted; he was just after pleasure — pleasure of any kind. Everything about her that held organic value was stripped away, until the least important aspect of her was exalted and exploited, like a tree losing its last leaf.

1471848_10202462506355101_873271260_nCan we de-porn the world? Probably not. Is there a way to revive the female for who she is outside the bed? I don’t know. I do know that trends are cyclical and there is a current move towards the real, the corporeal; people are trading out their MP3s for vinyl, for the real tangible item, opposed to its virtual counterpart.

I’ve seen it in religion, where children of Evangelicals are converting in droves to more traditional or liturgical churches, with candles, incense, prayers; something alive with history and void of sterility. People are turning from fast food and packaged frozen dinners to whole foods where the ingredients are pronounceable. There is a return to the organic. To the real. To the touch and feel and smell of the what is genuine.

Perhaps, once men have exhausted themselves, gorging upon the drive-thru woman, they will hunger for the real. Until then, I hope women will not be deceived regarding their intrinsic value, their humanity inside their curves, digitalized or real. Maybe a time will come again when women in the flesh, hold a mystery to be found, where the awe my son had on his face will continue with him throughout life. The absolute awe that God would create something so beautiful to be enjoyed by both man and woman and not to be exploited.

10 Comments

  1. Very provocative piece.

    What I wonder about are the girls who give every impression that no, they were never abused as kids, and no, they don’t have any daddy issues, they just really, really want to be in the latest Girls Gone Wild video.

    Brilliant tie-in to the return to vinyl, by the way. . . .

  2. There are always going to be individuals who give the whole a bad name. I’m not saying that women have gone about gaining equality or respect the right way; we have erred in many ways. Some give the wrong impression in the push to be seen as equals. But, in all honesty, women (historically/culturally/religiously speaking) have never been seen as much in the eyes of a male dominated society, with the exception of some, who have taken it upon themselves to rise above, to show they are more than a set of breasts.

    Someone suggested the vinyl tie-in – I think it was a woman;)

  3. But trading out digital for vinyl music in order to gain the real and corporeal seems like trading in screen porn for magazine porn. Not to sound too boring and conventional, but it seems like the quest is best realized in marriage, where we have bodies and histories getting permanently tangled up. Like Paul Simon said: “You take two bodies and you twirl them into one–they’re hearts and they’re bones, and they don’t come undone.”

  4. Really good.

    I agree with a lot of this as it is my experience as a former porn addict. Pornography and the objectification of women in that context is actually quite destructive to the male individual. It makes a fulfilling sexual experience harder to attain. It’s a fool’s game as the porn lust is insatiable and unattainable. It always drives you to more and more with the high getting less and less.

    Been clean for nearly 6 years, no looking back. It’s a trap that many dudes are stuck in…a prison of their own making.

  5. Zrim, I completely agree with you. Of course the analogy is not exact, but the idea of trading in a digitalized form for something with substance, not just an image. I agree that “the quest” is best realized in marriage, although this is not fool proof either – speaking as a woman who struggled with her husband through his porn addiction (he is ok with me sharing this).

    Alex, thank you for your transparency, it’s greatly respected. Porn is indeed a two-edged sword that wounds both its user and the object. I’m glad you chose to free yourself from it.

  6. Well, I said I was free of Women-based porn. Now I’m into Gay Midget Porn…much more satisfying.

  7. Who wouldn’t find that more satisfying? That’s my next article;)

  8. touche :-)

  9. I can’t believe I haven’t commented on this till now. First starting off with the story of your son was perfect. That innocent and really just pure curiosity lays the fountain. The human form and our natural attraction to is impossible to avoid but where does something normal become abnormal? I was always taught in my family to totally respect women as a person and soul just like me. There was no misogyny being displayed by my male role models. I always loved women. When in preschool the teachers called me playboy, because unlike the other boys I just dug the girls. It wasn’t anything to do with touching or whatever. I just thought girls were usually smarter than the boys, I could talk and learn from them. Thus I stood out to those five year olds and I understood why…I listen to them and saw them as just amazing. I always had a girlfriend and it was all pure and a personal growing experience. The older I got and the hormones of a boy kicked in those smart girls were really pulling me in with their developing minds and bodies. I was always respectful and a gentleman. I liked being a good boyfriend. By late highscool and early college the sweet and respectful guy was getting his ass kicked and heart broken by these girls. They were going through their own development but I started to figure if I wanted to play this game I better start hiding the sweet guy. I wasn’t a jerk but I also just tried not to care if those girls liked me or not, you couldn’t pin me down, I was mysterious. Guess what? The college girls that once said you are such a sweet guy as they wanted my opinion on their jerk of a boyfriend wanted the new masked me. I remember thinking this is insane, these girls say they want thing and do the other. Then came the mind blowing revelation that a lot of these woman were scandalous. Their were worse then many of the guys. I suppose it’s a question of the which came first the chicken or the egg? Were these women a reaction to boys gone wild and had learned they could use their body to get what they wanted? I just couldn’t figure it out, I just knew I still liked the women. I’m not sure that today there is such a big difference between men and women viewing sex as cheap and none emotive? Men are extremely visual and its got to something like every woman that likes porn there is a hundred guys. But how many women just lust after their favorite star or celebrity? I honestly hear and see more women talk about so and so and how yummy he is. Remember those Twilight films and all the middle aged women screaming after those hot teens? So back to porn…I’ve never been super into it but definitely have watched it. I would always rather have the real thing but thought whatever floats your boat. If I was dating a girl that didn’t like porn I got it but to be fair I dated women that liked porn and we’re freaks from where I came from. I knew guys who said they were addicted to porn and the damage done. Ok it’s like booze, some people can moderate and some can’t. Then I had my daughter who will always be my world. I thought ok in today’s world with sex just shoved down kids mines from everywhere how are boys going to treat my girl and how was she going to respond? That’s when porn became much more real to me. My daughter is amazingly beautiful and I’ve know boys will be tying to conquer her all the time. My goal was to create a woman with a great mind and character and didn’t depend on her looks…we’ll see how that works out. For me a women with a wonderful soul, smart and beautiful is the real turn on. Regardless of what anyone says the best sex is mental first. We need to be teaching and showing kids of both sexes that sex and attraction are normal but sex without true love can be very dangerous. Anyway great piece!

  10. I’m so glad you piped in Sky. I really like your perspective and totally agree that women can be as sex crazed as men – maybe I shouldn’t compare the two but instead say – men and women can be equally as sex crazed and use it for physical gratification without any need for love. I guess my real point is that if a boy grows up, with porn as his introduction to sex, what chance does he really have to view a woman as a woman and not an object? It influences men’s thinking whether they realize it or not. And, YES, women do not help this by objectifying themselves for men. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I don’t know. But when women decided to speak out for equality, some chose to use the tool they thought most powerful, their sexuality. And while this is an important part of a women, it is not and should not be her defining factor. The media – everything – instills in women that their true importance is rooted in and defined by their bodies – not their minds, and that is a shame.

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