This is something this blogger has to adress because it seems to point to a sweet spot in American Cultural Change – that is a dynamic that’s acknowledged, but still a point of contention. That’s something called “sexual objectification.”
The term is defined this way:
Sexual objectification refers to the practice of regarding or treating another person merely as an instrument (object) towards one’s sexual pleasure, and a sex object is a person who is regarded simply as an object of sexual gratification. Objectification more broadly is an attitude that regards a person as a commodity or as an object for use, with little or no regard for a person’s personality or sentience.
This is why I disagree with that term.
A woman I met and briefly courted in 2001,tracked me down ten years later, and met me at The Alley, a great local dive bar and restaurant in Oakland, not just to catch up, or find out how I got on national TV for a time, but primarily to tell me, after a bit of drink, that I should not seek what she calls “dominant” women. “You should go for subserviant women,” she said. “You’re just not having any luck with women who are like me.”
Like Georgia Cheerleader Anna Watson:
I just listened, which I supposed could be seen as a continuation of what she’s talking about, but I was being polite. The fact is – and those who know me know this – I’ve been attracted to strong-looking, athletic women since my teenage years and the first time I picked up a copy of Women’s Physique World at De Lauer’s in Oakland (a time long gone). Come to think of it, if People Magazine is to be believed, I have some company in the form of General David Petraeus, who was said to always have a “hard-bodied brunette” in his orbit.
Of course, the latest woman to fit that bill, Paula Broadwell, was one who was a lot closer than in “P4s'” orbit. But the fact is, he and I have a love for women like her in common. Come to think of it, my friend who “tracked me down” looks a lot like Broadwell.
Think about it: an expression of appreciation for a strong woman has everything to do with a love for what makes them tick that causes them to make themselves look physically strong. I have found, more often than not, that such women are also personally strong in some way.
And by this, I don’t mean “like a man,” – no. I’m referring to women who are obviously women but with muscle. I’m teased for the way I praise Hope Solo, but my practice is as much political as it is sexual: Hope Solo is not a woman you can push around. Like it or not, she has her own direction and she takes it. I do wonder if her own power causes her to, in some way, want to be over powered by someone who can meet the challenge: that’s certainly not me.
In other words, I have no interest in being more powerful than my mate. And maybe that’s what my friend was trying to tell me: some women, regardless of their own power, do. And if you think about what that can least to in the form of domestic violence, then you see why I object to that point of view.
There are a lot of men who appreciate and want to be with a strong woman, inside and out. And no, not to be dominated by them, or to dominate them, but to be partners with them. So an expression of how that woman looks is not “sexual objectification” because we don’t see that woman as just an object. We see her as a desired type of mate with a personality that’s perfect for us.
In closing, I point to the work of my favorite cartoonist R Crumb, as the best example of an appreciation of strong women. He drew women who you could not push around – although I object to his one very controversial work where he had the “Devil Woman” as some kind of headless robot. But even then, in the end, when she realized what was going on, she was on a rampage to beat the crap out of all of the men in the room – and they ran like hell.