Series Three: Blog Twenty-Two
Objectification of women is a social issue in our country. It has been a major contribution to eating problems that many women in our society suffer. It is multidimensional and pervasive across race, gender, and class. This predicament has been seeded in our culture for a long time. Many years ago in 1984 Glamour magazine polled 33,000 women and found that the majority of those surveyed were ashamed of their stomachs, hips, and thighs–parts of the body that contribute to female shapes. The intense pressure to diet that many girls face from a very young age is an example of an assault aimed directly at the very parts of bodies that are decidedly female. Women feel pressure to throw up, exercise or diet away hips, breasts and buttocks or create the shape of the same into the form that would portray “sexy” and desirability. In our society being a fat woman is a more serious “mistake” than being a fat man. For older women of any race, the approval of thinness is countered by the disdain for wrinkles and an aging body. Every race, class, gender classification and sexual orientation has nuanced stereotypes that pressure people to look and present a certain way in order to be accepted, gain power and position.
There is extreme body consciousness in our culture. For example, Latina women have been viewed both as highly sexual, irrationally flamboyant temptresses, and as obedient, subservient, fat, and passive—good Catholic mothers. Some speculate that men are drawn to women of childish body and mind because there is something less disturbing about the vulnerability and helplessness of a small child and something truly disturbing about the body and mind of a mature woman. The implications of objectification are pervasive and have damaged women’s attempt to gain respect, power, position and pursuit for equality.
Sex addicts live in a private world of objectification. Experiencing another person as a sexual object has been a centerpiece coping strategy that has been used to avoid or escape unwanted feelings. It becomes all encompassing. Without physically acting out, ogling another person and building a fantasy about sexually engaging that person without them even knowing your thoughts has served as a powerful dopamine rush. Pornography has greatly escalated the grip of objectification in the life of a sex addict. From magazines to internet streaming of every sexual fetish and desire, there is no limit to what can be imagined or objectified. For a sex addict, imagination and objectification become an organizing principle of life that blocks emotional connection from self and others. Objectification screams for titillation at the expense of treating another person with dignity and respect. It demands immediate gratification. It ignites a progression of behaviors from imagination to the realization of physical contact with another whereby the interaction is solely experiencing another person as a receptacle for sexual release. Objectification makes other people a mere utility, a “fuck-buddy”, a tryst or a one-night stand with no emotional connection. Consent provides mutuality but objectification adopts a mentality that dominates in order to get what you want without caring consideration of the other.
Managing objectification is the goal for the sex addict in recovery. Here is a list of considerations to help you manage the problem of objectification.
Remember, your recovery from sexual objectification can be the threshold to healing pervasive objectification of others in all aspects of life. Relationships whereby you treat others as a utility to get what you want without proper consideration of another must be transformed to treating others with dignity and respect. There is no room for the objectification of any living thing.
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