The Sexual Objectification of Women

Posted by M ws On Thursday, May 2, 2013 0 comments
Violence against women has always been a problem. Many research studies have shown how rape is an extension of sex role socialization processes where men are encouraged directly and/or indirectly to persist in attempts of sexual intimacy even if the woman has refused. Throughout history, women have been prized possessions either in harems or as concubines or are regarded as prey in times of war. Hence the subjugation of women during chaotic times such as rape in war or the despicable practice of comfort women was prevalent.  The difference between then and now is how more are aware of that problem and will not succumb to threats, but fight back even in dangerous circumstances.

A good example is my former student who fought back and escaped when she was the victim of an attempted kidnap last year. Thanks to various quarters including the security management of The Curve, the perpetrator was identified and sentenced recently. Strangely, only one newspaper reported this development.

In sharp contrast, a childhood friend who was molested when she was a primary school student never turned up for the trail and the guy was acquitted due to lack of evidence. I only found out because I was covering court cases then when attending journalism class. I never spoke to her about it but deep inside, I knew that was probably one of the reasons why she had been averse to any relationship. She only married when she was in her early forties. I can imagine the trauma she must have gone through and how painful and difficult was the journey to recovery.

A few years ago, my cousin taught me important basics of self-defense and till today, I still practise the moves, kicks, punches and other manoeuvres, not forgetting the breathing techniques. Of course, some may say it is better to give in and be alive but for me, I would fight tooth and nail even if it means I may lose my life or a limb. Somehow, that knowledge gave me added confidence in this cruel world. Perhaps that is why I let my son pursue wushu classes from a very young age.

Years ago, I was enlightened when attending a course on counselling rape victims that was held in Singapore. Then, some of the speakers were retired police officers, rape victims, counsellors and various leaders from women's organizations. It was then I realized the trauma that a victim goes through.

It was quite similar to research findings I had gathered with two other friends when we were assisting a lecturer to do research on prostitution and its impact on tourism in South-East Asia. My team-mates did the field work whilst I did the data analysis and write-up. Amongst the people interviewed were pimps, prostitutes and also the late Rose Chan when she was ill.

To a very large extent, women are subjugated because of the gender stereotypes that prevail in society via fairy tales, movies, various forms of media including advertisements, music video clips and of course even literature. Of course, some are forced into a life of prostitution via drugs, boyfriends, blackmail, kidnaps, families but there are those who are in it because of their distorted perceptions of love or sex.

I am no prude but I do get quite appalled when I see the photos that some strangers post of themselves via FB and it is not surprising that their followers are 100% male. Whilst I do not subscribe to the idea that women deserve to be raped because of the way they dress, I do believe that women need to uphold their dignity, integrity and honour by their way of life, speech and how they carry themselves in the real world and cyber space.

To me, it is very unhealthy if a woman is validated only because of a man. Without sounding like a feminist or an asexual being, I believe that to rise above all the gender stereotyping that exists in society, women need to realize the need for self-fulfilment and self-actualization on their own. The needy part of women allows them to be victimised, used or whatever but once they realize that there is no need for acceptance or validation by men via the physical route, they are likely to be more driven in other areas of their lives, seeking to achieve goals that they have outlined for themselves.

There have been many occasions when girlfriends grumbled to me about their singlehood and the attempts they made to find someone. I just tell them that one can be happy regardless of marital status! Of course, they object and say it is easy for me to say so as I am married with two boys. However, I know I would still be happy if I chose to be single and celibate! It is all in the mind!

Many problems can be traced back to the the sexual objectification of women which is so prevalent until many women themselves accept it and play by its rules! We see it so often in reality and even in movies, soap operas, songs etc.

According to this site:

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. Objectification is most commonly examined at a societal level, but can also arise at an individual level. 
The concept of sexual objectification and, in particular, the objectification of women, is an important idea in feminist theory and psychological theories derived from feminism. Many feminists regard sexual objectification as objectionable and as playing an important role in gender inequality. Some social commentators, however, argue that some modern women objectify themselves as an expression of their empowerment over men, while others argue that increased sexual freedom for women, gay, and bisexual men has led to an increase of the objectification of men. The idea of sexual objectification has also been an important area of discussion and debate in the area of sexual ethics and the philosophy of sex.

CLICK HERE for more.

It is time more women's organizations speak up and fight for legislation that forbids such practices, especially in advertising or even in the entertainment industry. When women love themselves more, they will not allow themselves to be objectified, or to be told to cover up or accused of 'asking for trouble' by the way they dress. If in a threatening situation, have the courage to do the needful. Be inspired by what this American sailor did. CLICK HERE to read about it.

"No one can take away our self respect unless we allow them to. In our lives we have to teach people how to treat us and treating us with RESPECT SHOULD BE NUMBER ONE unless we don't have respect for ourselves by allowing ourselves to be walked over or spoken to disrespectfully, then it doesn't matter and then we deserve what we get...NO RESPECT..." Anonymous

"First love yourself, then respect shall follow. Next don't worry so much on who will love you now but concentrate on the fact that as long as you uphold the love and respect that whoever does will be worth the wait.First love yourself, then respect shall follow. Next don't worry so much on who will love you now but concentrate on the fact that as long as you uphold the love and respect that whoever does will be worth the wait."

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