Objectism : How we see it (Part 1)
Year : 1968 , Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Miss America Contest was going on, and women came from all over to New Jersey; a woman drove all the way up from Florida. And at the event about 150 feminists from six cities joined together to show how all women were hurt by beauty competitions. They argued that the contest declared that the most important thing about a woman is how she looks by parading women around, like "cattle" to show how they look. That came to be known as the Miss America Protest , one among the very first instances when women came out publicly in such large numbers to protest against what now has become 'objectifying women' in popular culture. The spark later on turned into flames with the symbolic fuel of 'bra burning movement' in late 60s and early 70s. That was the boiling America of 70s very similar to India of today. shaking up and waking up the masses against stereotype of objectism.
From racist slurs to regionalist attacks to feminine taunts we have seen them , we have heard them and we have experienced them too, and it may come as a surprise that they are nothing but different manifestations of objectism. Objectism describes the end result of objectifying others. It is different from objectivity in the same way that the creeds of racism and sexism are world apart from the act of distinguishing people by race or gender. Classification is one thing and applying an up/down judgement is quite anotherDividing human races into Mongloid, Aryans, Negroes etc. is one thing and calling a black and short guy with African features as 'sala Negro' is definitely objectism. One essential aspect of an object is that whether it is desired or rejected, will depend on the whims of external judgment. Therefore, in the eyes of the viewer, an object has no inner existence. A thing is a thing and not a self. This remains unchanged by labels of negative or positive. Whether you are desirable or undesirable accessory , you are still an object. Beautiful or ugly, attractive or repulsive. A delicacy on one man' plate might be repugnant to another. The object doesn’t change just the viewer's eyes change. Racist remarks is one form of objectifying.
Taking up the major slice of objectism, we focus on women and the million dollar question that arises is, 'who is to be blamed for objectifying women' ? Only the ones who objectify her? With changing times, girls put their efforts from an early age into being as feminine and as attractive as possible. The catch is that those who are adored for their bodies as they naturally occur are only a fortunate minority. So now the others have to artificially manipulate themselves for instance remove hair from legs, arms, underarms and face, though however painful it maybe. And for most of them, having a woman's body entails a lifelong struggle to suppress the natural in favor of an imposed and artificial ideal. Instances of the Current trend to 'sexualize' little girls, turning them into self-conscious objects at an increasingly younger age, when there is no division between body and mind are dime a dozen . As a result self-consciousness starts earlier and, with the aid of medication or surgery, the struggle with nature now lasts longer. And women don’t see it to the fact that sooner or later when age has its toll, their bodies would disappoint them because they will not conform.
Almost everyone of us would have seen this commercial advertisement on TV for this product called 'Clean and Dry Intimate Wash'. Now what happens is that It's almost a self perpetuating look where women are comparing themselves to "the fake thing", and the "fake thing" then becomes the standard/norm. So some men look forward for that, while some women strive to become that, then these corporate giants sell you on the idea that "to become the norm buy this" and the only recurring theme they have is (Apna kaam banta, bhaad mein jaaye janta). Those of you who would read hindi dailies must have certainly come across advertisements (well you have to work hard to find news between the advertisements there) wherein beautiful models would be put who have no relation or context to the displayed product of the ad. For instance an ad. Of a local plywood making firm , or water tanks. Or tyres. Now of all the things in the world, what does a tyre making company have to do with 'models' in their advertisements ? On similar lines was there an argumentative article in Times of India a few days back on how models were chosen to be kept along with the newly launched cars in Delhi Auto Expo. Seems like even they are put up on sale along with the cars!
Now a days surgical intervention in the cause of cosmetic improvement is no longer the prerogative of a few film stars( remember Anushka Sharma's bee-stung-lips uproar).Money is all you need, whether you are 16 in Singapore wanting a boob job to increase your chances of marriage, thirty six in Newyork seeking a designer vagina, or fifty six in Mumbai desperate to remove bodily indications of middle age. Women don’t need encouragement or coercion from an individual partner, they have internalized the object status so well and for so long that they blithely say there is no harm in it, just fun and who doesn’t want to look good. But they are forgetting that harmless fun like applying makeup is reversible unlike going under the knife and in fact procedures have to be repeated again and again to maintain the desired effect.
Women can not avoid the reality that their bodies are under constant external assessment. It doesn’t alter the outside trends but it gives them a choice as to how to respond. Somewhere between letting it all hangout and the extremes of objectism is the game of managing your appearance. Some cosmetic activities can be enjoyed from a core of self-esteem. Changes and fluctuations in shape can be viewed with less horror and more care: Stand infront of a mirror and ask yourself, are you putting on weight because it is part of getting older? Is it time in life when the body needs more protective layer or a sign that you are eating unhealthily? Do you need to take better care of the body with more exercises. The questions are galore.
Think of someone -any age- a child, partner, parents someone whom you love dearly and protectively, whom you love as they are because they are who or what they are. Would you put them through excruciating pain in order to alter their appearance for a while? Would you allow anyone to perfrom plastic surgery on them not because their life is in danger but simply because you want them to look different. The answer is a stern 'NO'. So why not put down the goggles of sexual objectism and see a different world. You see individual beauty. This is beauty beyond attractiveness, beyond individual preferences and external affirmation. It is the beauty of integrity.
To read the second part go to the following link :