I'm kind of reading a self help book. It's about relationships. I got it as a wedding gift and I read a bit of it back then, but I put it down after a few chapters because it was too religiously inspired for my personal tastes. But I pulled it out the other day for a couple of reasons, first of all, I just started writing my first self help book (it's going to be a collection of "Recovery Challenges") and I needed formatting ideas. Secondly, this book is supposed to help you show love more effectively and that can't be a bad thing right?
Anyway, I was flipping through this book and I happened upon this bit,
"But for most couples, things begin to change after marriage. The wife finally has her man; the husband has his trophy."
Uhm... what? It's pretty frustrating to read that as the "wife" in the scenario. The wife gets her man but the husband doesn't get his woman, he gets his trophy. He doesn't have a person to share his life with, he has an object to be admired. An object is something you own. Therefore, the common use of terms which objectify women exacerbates the cultural belief that women can be possessed, that we are not our own autonomous beings. Our culture does not believe that men and women are equal in terms of self ownership.
One of the direct consequences of this cultural belief is sexual violence toward women. When a woman is seen as an object it becomes considerably less important to gain consent for sexual acts. Even a clear refusal can become "gray area" to a person who allows this mindset of male ownership to guide him, "I bought her dinner, took her dancing, paid for this hotel room, she can't possibly actually mean 'No.'" As if the money he spent also pays for her body.
Of course, we know that it does not. A woman is not a trophy to be won or bought and her decision to accept dinner is not the same as her decision to have sex or not have sex.
But until objectifying language is no longer used to describe women we will continue to have this problem in our culture. The biggest problem is that the language and the actions are cyclical; when women are treated like objects people talk about them as objects. When people hear women being talked about as objects, they start to treat women like objects.And on and on it goes.
But we can make a difference here, we need to be more aware of the words and phrases we use, We need to call out sexism and objectification wherever we see it. If we can stop the language, we are on our way to stopping the mind set and the behaviors.