This article from Mirror of Intimacy by Alexandra Katehakis & Tom Bliss wonderfully explains how objectification may be helpful and harmful not only with our lover but with strangers on the streets, service industries professionals and the like.
“Being objectified gave me a certain sense of humility, and made me feel ignored and unnoticed. At the same time, it made me aware of how and when I do this to others. Sometimes I do it to my friends, when I call them for the express purpose of talking about myself. I almost always do it to customer service reps. And I often objectify barristas: you are just something that happens between me and my latte.” ~ Melanie Curtin
An object is a thing, usually made of material that can be seen and touched. But an object can also be a person we direct feelings towards. Thus, the one we love can be our “love object” in the most literal sense of the word. But when we target a person as an item of our physical desire–a sexual object to be had–we’ve reduced him or her to a thing to be used for our gain. We all recognize this type of objectification as cold and calculating, serving our carnal needs without any regard for the other. But we often ignore that when we become habituated to this pattern of sexuality we have, ironically, made ourselves into objects, and will find ourselves being used sexually or otherwise, and discarded afterward. Over time, such sexual encounters bring despair to both parties.
In contrast, when love and attachment inspire objectification, being the love object can be exciting and fun. All too often people feel offended by being objectified in any way. But when we comfortably embody our sexuality, objectification by our lover feels like a compliment. To achieve that experience, we must leave any shame about our body or sexuality out of the bedroom. Confidence, self-knowledge, and an appreciation of our sexiness and beauty let us view, and give, our self as a love object in a healthy way.
Receiving adoration for our corporeal body requires a high level of self-love. Typically we associate using one’s body seductively as a power trip. But when we transform our energy into genuine, relationship-based power we experience our self differently, as an admirer–like our lover–of the body we were given at birth, the body that transports us through life, the body that is the altar of sexual pleasure and delight.
Questions to further assess your personal view on how you may or may not objectify others.
- What does it feel like to be objectified?
- Where do you feel your emotions in your body?
- When have you noticed objectifying someone else? What was that experience like for you?
- Describe in detail beliefs you have around objectification and where their origin. How have those beliefs helped or hindered your relationships?
The questions below address possible issues with your body and your lover’s body.
- In what healthy ways do you objectify your lover?
- When you look at your lover’s body, what do you see? What do you tell him or her about the effects his or her body has on you?
In what healthy ways do you objectify yourself?
- How do you adorn and prepare yourself for sex?
- How much effort do you put into cultivating your consciousness and your appearance for yourself, and how much do you do it for your partner?