Objectification: Why We Do It and Why It’s a Problem

by Jeff Fisher on March 1, 2011

Along the journey toward sexual purity, there are many battles that we have to face:

  • Terminating unhealthy sexual relationships
  • Quitting pornography
  • Stopping masturbating
  • Getting control of your fantasy life

These are all tough battles, and victory doesn’t come easy with any of these.  There is sacrifice, struggle, and surrender that must take place.  There is consistency and endurance.

Another major battle we have to fight is to stop objectifying women, and start valuing them.

First, a definition:

Objectify – means to treat as an object; devalue; not see the true value of the person

Anytime you look at a woman in a lustful way you’re starting to objectify her.  It can be subtle, like sexual jokes or comments about a girl being built well or hot.  Or objectifying can be obvious where we are seeking out images, yelling at girls, or acting out sexually with women.

Objectification is selfish.  It takes and wants instead of gives and serves.  It is you looking at the features of a woman or the way a woman is dressed for sexual stimulation. 

WHY DO WE OBJECTIFY?
So why do we objectify, where does it come from?  As we’re unpacking this struggle, take an inventory of your own life.

1.  Family culture – Our fathers, brothers, uncles and other family members might have modeled it to you.  Consider how they treated women.  How did your dad treat your mother?  Was it in an honoring way or a demeaning way.  Your family atmosphere might have been liberal or included porn.  These affect the way we look at women.

2.  Sexualized culture – It’s no surprise that our culture is sexualized.  Sports, TV, movies, radio stations, and magazines all use sex to sell.  Our culture also puts a high value on sex, promoting it as the pinnacle of a relationship.

3.  Our peers – What about our buddies in middle school, high school, college, & work.  They probably objectify.  I think my peers were the biggest factor for me.  We talked all the time about sex, the beauty or ugliness of girls, and their sexy features.

4.  Pornography majors on it – Porn feeds objectification.  It is probably the most intense, concentrated environment for objectifying.  You don’t know any of the women your are looking at and lusting after, and videos and movies push all of the objectification / fantasy buttons for us.

5.  We are wired visually – Guys are designed by God to be visual.  It’s not God’s fault that you objectify, but you are attracted to a girl first by her features and looks.  But God has also designed you to continue with a girl by building a relationship.  The problem is that we never get past the visual.  We camp out at visual intimacy and objectify.

6.  We are driven by our selfish, fleshly nature – Our nature revolves around ourselves.  The Bible calls it our sinful, fleshly nature.  We don’t naturally value and honor.  We seek after our own desires.  Our nature is going to lead us to looking for sexual stimulation and looking at girls as objects.

7.  We’ve had a lot of practice at it – This might be the first time you’ve thought about objectification.  If you look back, you might have had decades of practice at it.  It’s such a common part of our culture and development that we might not know anything different.

8.  Some women promote it – Objectification is our problem.  We are responsible for our own actions.  But there are women who encourage it.  Girls who intentionally flirt, dress sexy, and tease guys.  There are women who seduce guys and aggressively pursue.

Let me be very clear:  we are responsible for our own actions and sins. We can’t blame anyone but ourselves for our objectification.  But we can point back to influences, both past and present.  Our influences are the atmosphere that make it easier or harder to objectify.  Most of us have many negative influences, and it makes the battle more difficult.

WHAT’S THE CORE PROBLEM?
So what’s the problem with objectifying women?  What does it really matter?  We might think that the way we look at women is our business and it doesn’t hurt anybody else.  But it affects many things:

Dehumanizes women, reduces them to objects – We stop looking at women as real people.  They are not flesh and blood, not people with hurts and wounds, not daughters, mothers, or wives.  They become objects for us to desire.

Selfish instead of serving – Objectifying is a way of using women for your own pleasure.  We want them.  We want to possess them in our minds or with our bodies.  All of these desires are selfish.  In sexual purity we have to move toward serving and giving instead of coveting.

No honor and respect for women – When we show honor and respect to people, we hold them in high esteem.  We put them in a special place in our minds and with our attention.  We might even consider those we honor as more important than ourselves.  With objectification, there is no respect and no honor.

No regard for those created in God’s image – Women are created by God and in His image.  God values life and celebrates His creation.  We dishonor God when we don’t value others.  Objectifying is another way of demeaning His creation.

False intimacy – God has designed us for intimacy – emotional and relational connectedness.  When we objectify, we stop short of true bonding with women.

Sexualizes relationships – We do build some relationships with women.  But objectification can affect your real relationships.  They become sexualized.  Your relationships become another outlet for lust.

We are lying to ourselves – When we fanaticize and objectify we are not seeing the truth of who this person is.  She is a real person with real problems and a real life and a real family.  When we’re staring at pictures or the live thing our minds don’t go to truth.  We have no reference for it, so we make up our own reality and start believing it.  This is self-deception.

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