As I’m planning to spend more time writing here as time goes on, it occurred to me that I ought to start tacking more meaty subjects than my own exercise failings and stupidity online. The problem is, right now, there’s so much of the latter taking place on a daily basis that I could probably make a full time living doing just that. So to begin your week with a stop and think moment, let’s give a lesson in a subject I am learning more about with each passing day. It’s the game your entire Followers List can play: Objectification for Fun and Profit.
It began with this floating into my timeline: woman of colour Serena Williams has done a photo shoot (for Sports Illustrated) not wearing very much, and a white woman has seen this before getting the right hump. More importantly, it is a woman who is not of colour throwing someone who is a ton of shade for deciding she can do whatever the fuck she likes because she’s successful. I’d love to say that women should stick together, and that you’d not see this happening anywhere else, but that’s just not true either. Let’s roll in the other tweet that made it to my timeline yesterday to prove that sometimes, complaining you don’t like something when being paid to write about it is the worst thing you can ever do:
Not only is it bad to show off your body when a woman of colour and pregnant, or when successful, it is also terrible to celebrate story lines that involve women of colour, despite the fact that movie’s more than likely to win the Best Picture Oscar. It won’t win it because the Oscars committee got grief that there wasn’t enough diversity, for the record, but because it’s a fucking brilliant piece of cinema according to all the sensible, rational people I believe who have seen it. No, I haven’t, but in this case even if I had I’d still take Camilla Long to task, or indeed any of these journalists who think that this is either a way to make money or a fair representation of actual truth. That’s the unexpected advantage of writing fluff pieces for newspapers: it is your opinion, freedom of speech gives you that right yet however wank that is, you’ll still get paid regardless.
Those of us who do this for love think a bit harder about what gets used as subject matter.
I use Tweetdeck for Twitter reading for one reason: it allows me to mute people and phrases when the traditional means of silencing stupid on that platform won’t work. It means therefore that if you put the word ‘cosplay’ in a Tweet I won’t see it either, and I’d like to explain why as an example of how objectification has NOTHING to do with the people being photographed and EVERYTHING around who looks at and then shares those pictures. I enjoy looking at both men and women’s naked bodies, but in my own time and certainly not on social media, and that means I make a conscious choice to remove all references to scantily clad females that other people choose to share online. It is, effectively, people deciding that X has great tits and that everyone should share. That’s objectification, and because I want no part of it, I remove it from my timeline. I’ve also started doing this with shirtless pictures of men, I won’t lie, as I realise that it is just as objectifying as the lovely lady above being waved in my face.
The fact she chose to have this picture taken is NOT her objectifying herself. Sure, it might appear to have that effect, but if you make a conscious decision to allow your life to be public property, that is a consequence everyone takes, from the 40′ waisted pole dancer to the intersex model. Size, shape, colour or sexual preference are irrelevant. An object (and no, I’m not dissing anyone by being this literal) by definition has stuff directed at it, and is not the thing doing the objectification:
I’ll freely admit that this is a concept I’m coming to quite late, that staring at desirable things is always something that’s been done without really grasping the significance or consequence of the action. After all, if you go to a museum and stare at a naked statue, which presumably is only an interpretation of a real person, what’s the difference between that and the nice young lady pretending to be a representation of a dragon with 44 DD breasts? Of course, with Serena Williams and Beyoncé there is an issue of race that really shouldn’t even exist in 21st Century thinking, where movies like ‘Moonlight’ should just be considered as the norm and not an exception. Objectification happens in too many places, and with not enough consideration for a global stage. It doesn’t help that fascism and introversion are now turning back efforts to expand people’s minds, and that ‘fake news’ makes this the new reality.
It makes me sad that people won’t get along. It’s even more depressing that, faced with choice, it is a natural reaction for most of us to assume we’re right and everybody else is wrong. There’s an awful lot of space on this planet for everybody to work together and get along, yet easier to divide and conquer people and ideas to keep what are considered as ‘unruly’ people in line. I’d like to think that if I was ever paid to write this kind of crap for a living I’d make better choices, and wouldn’t think about dissing people or picking targets without understanding what it was I was doing in the first place. Mostly, it seems to me that writing is becoming a lost art: easier to throw a metaphorical plant at someone and forget about finesse. If that’s the case, honestly, these people should be out of a job. This isn’t news, and neither is it opinion I have any interest in, yet undoubtedly outrage causes clicks and makes money.
That’s probably the larger issue that could do with addressing.