Sexual objectification and grievance mongering

The following is part of a comment thread found at

Mr. J said:
My whole point is that if I don’t want to be objectified by women for shallow reasons, I cannot expect to be able to do it to them. This seems to be a historic double-standard that causes much trouble.

What I hear you saying is that what you want is for both sides to be treated with equal dignity and respect. I agree. I am a Men’s Rights Activist because I’m an egalitarian first. I had a 50% chance of being born a female or male. The flip of the coin turned up heads.

I think that what you’re running into, though, is a sensitivity that comes with a deeper study of the cultural presuppositions. The campaign for women’s rights has had many beneficial effects, but also many detrimental effects, among them, the monkey-brained “Us vs. Them” mentality.

Sexual objectification is the act of treating a person merely as an instrument of sexual pleasure, making them a “sex object”. Objectification more broadly means treating a person as a commodity or an object, without regard to their personality or dignity.

I will point you to a very common habit of many ideologues: grievance mongering. Grievance mongering is more than pointing out verifiable facts, or enumerating a list of valid grievances. Grievance mongering is the act repeatedly subdividing instances of what may be a valid complaint, or conflating issues so as to produce more and more purported grievances so as to create a sense that the quantity and severity of grievances is superior to that which a neutral and reasonable person might accept.

The notion of sexual objectification has undergone this process, where “He made a dongle joke to his friend within ear-shot” is conflated with treating a woman as though she had no human identity, and the only relevant feature of this animal is that it can provide sexual pleasure to an omnipotent man.

The two are evidently extremes, yet grievance mongering assigns the same level of moral severity to both. The problem with grievance mongering is that it turns a gradient scale into a black and white issue.

Humans like simple polarized issues, little to no thought of complexity or nuance is required. Memes are easy to absorb. The issue speaks to dignity and power, two of the most elemental human psychological drives.

Can you see how this notion might be abused–especially by those who have a political agenda? (Politics: the management of power and resources via relationship.) The personal is the political, some feminists would claim. Men’s rights activists often rail at this notion not only due to the unreason of this position, but because it also excludes 50% of the world’s population in the equation. It presupposes that men perpetrated and that women are victimized. This notion focuses on a purportedly willful masculine act of denigration toward women, but completely ignores and dismisses all the positive acts of men toward women, and ignores and dismisses all the negative acts against men and women by women.

Now, I believe that I understand what you’re saying: that (perhaps) you, and (definitely) other people accept the above bit grievance mongering as the whole story, and that natural, instinctive and biological male entrancement with the female form triggers this unconsciously complex set of ideas as a bit-sized but response inducing meme.

I get that.

I believe that a better response to such an argument is not simply to accept that the individual feels that way and either silently walk away or to acquiesce to their statement, letting it go unchallenged, but to get them to think about it more deeply. A better response is not “don’t say these things”, but to find a better way of elucidating and communicating the relevant distinctions of the memes as I have above.

Now obviously, being a concise meme generator is not my role in life, though I work at it. What we can all do is first: understand this objection being thrown at us, and secondly, have a better meme to offer in response, one that is fair to everyone, or that highlights the unfairness of the meme itself.

“Don’t sexually objectify women” is a Trojan horse, a poisoned candy. It is very appealing, superficially, but is in reality a package of mental viruses designed to infect minds.

A true counter (though it could be made more mind-sticky) to “don’t objectify women” might be “Respect both men and women as people, instead seeing them as tools to gratify your needs”.

People are swatting at you for a number of reasons: 1. They want you to free your mind of that meme so that 2. you refuse to pass the harmful meme, as-is, along so that 3. they don’t want you to permit that meme to live in other people because of its bigoted nature. 4. It is an old chestnut to those who have spent a good deal of time examining the sexual politics and they are weary of the misandric stereotypes even more than they are having to counter it.

If you care about making a better world, don’t take the fuck-youz personally, Keep on learning, studying, discussing and accept that everyone has a mental, educational, emotional path to walk and that it’s all modulated by our history.

My coffee buzz has ended, now :)

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