For the asexually curious and the curiously asexual

Thinking objectively

I’ve already mentioned several times my annoyance with the meme, possibly second-wave feminist in origin, that sexual attraction (normally along male -> female lines) can be alternately described as objectification.

I’ve tended to talk before about how the false equation screws up sexual attraction, by presuming it runs along gendered lines, by essentially censoring straight/bisexual male sexuality. I’d like to talk today about how it screws up the idea of objectification.

Because asexuals are objectified. No-one is putting us on billboards in our swimwear, no-one is making it clear that our careers depend on our looks. But we are called inhuman, psychoanaethetic (literally ‘numb inside’), we come in droves to asexual spaces complaining that society says we’re ‘broken’. Not ‘dysfunctional’, ‘unhealthy’, ‘unnatural’. The word is always ‘broken’. If sexuality is human, then we are less than human. And when you literally choose to equate your sexuality more with a burnt-out toaster than with a human being full of hope, it hurts to look up at the people who get to be people and hear them say that the thing you’re missing is the thing that is turning them into an object.

And the other reason, the reason which is slightly contradictory to the first one, is that objectification is natural and not bad. It’s important to distinguish the loss of personhood, which I was discussing above, with just being used for something. Recently, if you’ve been following my blog (to a relative value of recently), you’ll notice I’ve been pulling apart sexual and romantic behaviour and isolating it as a series of needs and wants. I’ve immersed myself in this mindset, to the point that the needs and wants of sex seem no different to me to the needs and wants of having someone for good conversation, or cuddles. Or anything in this awesome list, which is just a start to the ways we can break down relationships, up to and including using someone for Dr Who watching.

When you take the whole of human interaction and make sex one tiny part of it, surrounded by a plethora of other relationship features just as pressing, just as economic, the idea that sex objectifies, more than love or friendship, just becomes a self-evident contradiction, spitting into the sun of human intimacy.

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Comments on: "Thinking objectively" (1)

  1. I think the key thing about objectification (as feminists talk about it) is that it denies people agency. The problem isn’t that men want or need to have sex with women, it’s that patriarchal culture denies women the ability to choose whether to have sex, and who to have sex with.

    I completely agree that the issue gets distorted when people talk about objectification as if it only happened with men sexually objectifying women. But I think the useful thing to take away from that is that we should look for (and avoid) objectification wherever it occurs.

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