The curse of objectification
There is a tenacious debate in feminism and academia about sexual objectification. Sexual objectification is an incredibly touchy and multi-layered issue which has been associated with various societal anomalies and psychological defects in women including depression, low selfworth, negative self-image, a general sense of hopelessness, etcetera.
I would like to make it abundantly clear that I firmly believe that there is no justification whatsoever for any form of assault, harassment, violence or abuse perpetrated against women. I would also like to unequivocally state that, I believe that there is a need for men to take personal responsibility when it pertains to any breech of women’s legal, civil and domestic rights. Having stated these, indeed, a woman has legal rights to dress as she pleases and it is true that the way a woman dresses should not automatically box her into a stereotype. In our society, there are various classes of women with differing tastes and values, who act and express themselves in different manner. An attempt to pre-suppose that all women are the same is foolhardy, disingenuous and misleading. Some women are conservative, have impeccable moral standards, are highly principled and decent while some others lack a basic sense of decency and are prone to exhibit lewd behaviour. There are females who do not find sexual objectification offensive; some in fact dress lasciviously as an expression of empowerment, while some others relish being the object of attention and or desire. I have heard women say ‘I like to dress sexy’ and ‘I really do not care what the lyrics of the “jam” are, I just want to move my body and have a good time’. In a democracy, this is perfectly within limits, after all, it is a free society and everyone has rights. However, women who freely express their sexuality through the clothes they wear, music they listen to, the way they dance and general conduct, should not protest and complain they are being objectified. There is an imperative need for feminists and non-feminists alike to acknowledge the double standard that is in play when women send out confusing signals.
Women must come to terms with the reality that it is highly unreasonable to put sensual parts of your body on display, dance to songs replete with sexual innuendos and then protest that you are being objectified. Except you enjoy being sexually objectified, you should not be oblivious to how your actions, comportment, style and carriage can contribute to your own objectification.
Moreover, there is overwhelming empirical evidence suggesting that physical appearance is an important index people use to create an impression about our identity and personality. Ours is a typically patriarchal society with all kinds of pervasive cultures ingrained into our system and there is no assurance and certainly no experimental evidence asserting that when women conduct themselves in propriety, there will be an end to sexual objectification. Also, the true constituents of sexual objectification and the moral and ethical implications thereof remain quite controversial and ambiguous but in spite of these stark realities, I would like to encourage women to make deliberate efforts to be true to themselves in their pursuit for equity and respect in the society.