What a lovely word. I objectify beautiful women all the time. I objectify intelligent women too. There is a long list of words and phrases that we have misappropriated over the years. Perhaps the worst of which is “politically correct.” The most important word that has been misappropriated, however, may be “objectify”.
The subject of this post is the object of my affection. We have lost some true appreciation for etymology and even definition of words these days. I will be using definitions for objectify and object, both from Merriam-Webster.
First, the word objectify in the “offensive slant” can only be related to the first definition provided as the 2nd definition per Merriam-Webster relates to universalizing feelings into terms that can be understood by an audience to create a sort of shared experience among people. The first definition is “to treat as an object or cause to have objective reality.” Since the second part cannot be applied to things that already exist in the real word, the offense must be in treating people as objects. That sounds terrible.
Let’s look at what objects are:
1a) They can be perceived by senses
1b) They can stir emotions
2a) Feeling or action can be directed towards them
2b) Can influence the identity of those who perceive it by passing on behavior
3a) The goal of an effort or activity
3b) A cause for attention or concern
4 ) The subject of an investigation or study
5a) A noun/pronoun denoting the goal of a verb
5b) a “noun” in a prepositional phrase
6a) programmer jargon
6b) programmer jargon
So to the beautiful intelligent women out there, I offer this:
I see you and sometimes hear you. Sometimes you make me angry or happy. Sometimes you do awesome things and I make them a part of me. If we should become friends or lovers, you, yourself will be part of my goal. I will pay attention to you and worry about you. I will concern myself with what you think about things and why.
I probably won’t yell across the street at you in a skimpy bikini and tell you how sexy you are. If you think that guy is treating you like an “object,” you should read the definition of that word. The problem is that he is seeing you in only one dimension. The problem is that he is NOT granting you objective reality. The problem is that he is NOT objectifying you, but that he is subjectifying you. He is seeing you in his subjective context and only admiring your sexual traits and imagining your uses in that context. I won’t claim to be above noticing sexual traits, but I don’t let them blind me or invalidate the rest of you by blinding me to the rest.
So if you want to stop and make people think about things for a minute, please affirm that you exist in an objective reality and there is plenty more to you, whether the jackholes want to see it or not. Demand to be an object. Explain that all objects have sides you haven’t seen yet. Whether you do that by showing them a finger or a fist is of little consequence.
Show the world the bigger idea and I hope there will be real consequences.