Since history can remember, women have been treated as less than human.
It wouldn’t take much time skimming ancient and recent history to see this. Today, in countries around the globe women are pushed around as weaker or peddled as property. Even in our “enlightened” nation women have to fight for their place at the proverbial table of honor, respect, and opportunity.
Notably, in the realm of sexual relationships, American men are taught to view women as objects rather than as people: the way women are joked about in cubicles at work, talked about in dorms like dating is a race to third base, sung about in popular music, depicted in mass media, divorced as if it was nothing more than a legal process. It’s all kind of sad really.
Do you know what you do with an object? You objectify it.
1. First, you award an object worth based on its attractiveness and usefulness. An object doesn’t have an inherent value (like humans should), instead, it has a consumer value. You put a price-tag on it based on its appearance and how well it meets your needs. You determine the value of it because it is yours, right? Your property.
2. Second, you use an object. Sometimes for a night. Sometimes for a weekend. Maybe even for weeks, months, years at a time. But sooner or later, an object begins to age. It ceases to fulfill its original purpose. It loses the shine and luster it once had. It becomes less attractive and useful, and eventually unable to meet the needs that you originally acquired it for. So what do you do with it next?
3. You dispose of it. You replace it. You throw it away. You upgrade. And come on! What’s the big deal? It’s just an object! Objects don’t have feelings. Their purpose is to meet your needs. And once it ceases to do that, once you’ve used it to the max, once it has served your purpose, you move on to a new one.
Now just to be clear, women aren’t objects. They’re humans. Human beings who (at least I believe) bear the image of God, the imprint of God’s creative thumbprint. They’ve been given a bestowed worth by the one who created everything. And yet, since history can remember, women have been treated as less than human. They are consistently objectified by men (and women) sometimes subtly, sometimes explicitly.
PORNOGRAPHY objectifies women. All forms of erotic imagery remove the personhood from the person. Quickly, she becomes an object, an object without a name or story, but with a specific use, to gratify you.
There’s no self-sacrifice in this sort of relationship. There’s no “love your neighbor.” There’s no “cross-shapedness.” Just me using it for me.
It bears mentioning that every second and every penny invested in pornography is another second or penny invested in sex trafficking/slavery across the globe, which is perhaps the very worst form of dehumanization and objectification… but that’s for another blog.
LABELS objectify women too. “Whore,” “skank,” “hoe,” “dime-piece,” “booty-call,” and all the other body-parts and profanities we like to throw around to talk about women, every last one of them is a subtle way that we objectify real human beings.
I know what you’re thinking. Words are harmless. But we know that’s not true. All forms of discrimination, racism, and sexism begin with words. Labels are the breeding ground, often the first step, toward violent movements. It’s simply a fact, if you continue to call someone by a specific label, you’ll start to believe it.
People justify labels in a variety of ways: “It’s a college-guy thing.” “A cultural thing.” “She earned it.” “That’s just what my favorite singer says, but I don’t really believe it.” And that’s fine, you can go there if you want… just not if you’re a member of the Kingdom of God. Because in the kingdom, the kingdom perspective supersedes all others.
Occasionally, WOMEN objectify themselves. I almost balked on writing this whole post because, to be honest, I’m in no place to speak on behalf of women or to their plight (as I’m sure many of you will remind me). But I can speak as a man. And I do know that it always helps when women don’t make this easier on us.
But unfortunately, more today than ever, we live in a world where beauty matters… way too much. And to be honest, I’m not really sure what to do about it. We live in a day where: what you look like means more than who you are; the size of your waist trumps the size of your heart. And so we’re all stuck in this vicious cycle as men beg to see more and women show it.
A word to the wise though, do you know how a fisherman knows how to bait his hook? …Based on what he wants to catch. Think about it.
So women (specifically high-school, college, and young-professional women), if you continue to fish for men with your body, you’ll continue to catch “body-boys.” And although they may seem smoking hot on the outside, they’re ice cold on the inside. And they’ll break your heart. Time after time. Trust me, I’ve known a few.
[Young women, you’re so much more than a body. #justsaying]
Let me close by saying this to the men (ultimately, that’s who this blog is for). Here’s my point men. When you treat women like an object, you’re not making a statement about their value, you’re making a statement about your character.
When you treat women as less than worthy of your honor, respect, and self-sacrifice, you’re not making a statement about how valuable she is, because God has already established that. She’s been given his image. She’s an equal heir to his inheritance. She’s worthy of the death of his son. Her value has done been determined.
And to be honest, in today’s day and age, she doesn’t need your help anyways proving her value. Women everywhere are doing a mighty fine job changing the world in all sorts of amazing ways all by themselves. So be serious! Real talk! You’re not making a statement about her when you treat her like an object, you’re just making a statement about you. And it’s not all that cute.
So perhaps together we can start treating people like people. Perhaps together we can start looking at people the way God does.
I’m not trying to speak as a man, or a feminist, or a concerned citizen, or whatever you might call me after this blog, I’m trying to speak as a follower of Jesus doing his best to realize the implications of him. So perhaps, just perhaps, we could all start praying this prayer together, “God, let me see her like you see her.”
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