You don’t need to look hard to find a woman’s body plastered on a billboard baring a bronze leg and boasting a large bust. Ask any guy – they’ve seen porn that displays the bodies of women like items in the windows of an online store.  Ask any girl and they could probably tell of a time they’ve been wolf-whistled at, run over by a roving eye or worse, groped or the victim of abuse. Gender-based violence has been a constant issue in South Africa but lately has been getting even more media attention.

 

If a girl isn’t already suffocating under the social pressure to wear a smaller pant size, follow a certain diet or have over 1000 followers on social media, she also has to deal with this. Being treated like somebody’s play thing or not cutting it to be considered “worth it” to be a play thing. (I’m not sure that there is a lesser of evils here!)

 

How have we got to this point? Why are we sitting with the problem of women being turned into an object of pleasure for the selfish satisfaction of male onlookers?

 

I believe a large part of it could be summed up in one word.

Porn.

I would venture a guess that pornography fuels almost everything about the objectification of women. You may think I’m whipping a dead horse here but I believe this demon is a lot more sinister than we think.

 

Porn Teaches Violence Towards Women

Pornography, according to three separate articles I viewed (and I didn’t look hard!) contains an alarmingly high percentage of violence towards women. Between 88-90%. More stats? Sure. 98% of men have seen porn at least once. That means that almost every male has seen violence towards women. What’s even more alarming is that this abusive behaviour is met with no emotion or even pleasure from the female involved. Men viewing regularly are conditioned to think that this is enjoyable for women. Porn creates unrealistic expectations for sex – I could write a whole post about that alone! As children imitate the programmes they watch, likewise we see this playing out in the way some men relate to women.

 

Porn Literally Objectifies Women

A study was done on men watching porn and it found that the part of the brain that lit up while viewing porn was the same part of the brain that recognises objects. So essentially, the brain was detaching any human character traits from the woman being viewed and she became an object – an object for the selfish pleasure of men. A “worthless” object that requires no work, no effort and no maintenance from his side.

 

All this to say, women were objectified and abused since the fall of mankind. It isn’t a new problem. It’s just one that has seen a marked increase as technology, internet and social media have developed and “advanced”.

 

And sadly, this objectification has been sugar-coated and sold to women under the guise of empowerment and sexiness.

 

Let’s look at fashion for a moment. I believe that porn has influenced the fashion industry because, let’s be honest, sex sells. We’ve been told that high-rise shorts, crop tops, push-up bras and plunging necklines are sexy and feminine. That’s the way they are marketed to us. Sure, they are sexy. You’ll draw attention from every boy from 10 to 95 when you walk out the door. The sad reality is that you will be the one who will pay at the end of the day, not them. You will be the one fanaticized over in the privacy of their homes later. You can’t control what they think about in their minds. To you, you may feel empowered. To them – you’re just another object of gratification. Remember, the brain has just registered “object”.

 

And then there’s social media. Women want to feel good – we want to feel “worth it”, sexy, beautiful and attractive. Women may measure that by the attention they can get on Instagram or Snapchat when they post a sultry picture with a “come hither” look playing across their open lips and drawing attention to their busts with a low cut shirt. Others, perhaps, upload themselves gyrating their hips to a song peppered with sexual innuendos on TikTok. Ladies, the sad reality is that you are adding to the content out there, not reducing it. By uploading these images and videos, you are inviting men to dabble with your body in their minds. And, somehow, I suspect, that is the very last thing you want or maybe intend to do. Social media has no bounds, no age limit, no filter. You may get the attention of the Henry Cavills but likewise, you may get the attention of a high school boy and his mates or a single grandpa lounging on his bed.

This is what Rolling Stone had to say,

“It is not uncommon for TikTokers, whether they’re of age or not, to end up on Pornhub. A quick search yielded more than a dozen compilations and individual videos of clothed female TikTokers doing SFW dances with titles such as “CRAZY THICK White Girl Does WAP Dance” and “A New TikTok Slut Is Born.” Often, the creators’ handles are visible in the uploaded videos; sometimes, their SFW videos are featured in a collage next to nude or sexually explicit content, or spliced with moaning sounds. It is unclear whether the creators in the videos are aware their videos have been uploaded to Pornhub.”

 

This quote makes a good point,

“The line between objectification (being viewed as an object) and empowerment (the feeling that you have the power) is a notoriously thin one, particularly for women.” Megan Garber.

 

Jennifer Lawrence was outraged when nude pictures of her were released. The very fact that she had them taken meant she intended for someone to see them. And do what with them, I ask? She responded to the leak by saying the following,

“I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for. I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.”

 

How tragic! Herein lies the reason she took these pictures,

“Either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you!”

As much as we all seek to live in a world where we can feel beautiful without being worried about the perverts out there, there is much to be said about questioning our motives, and I mean truly questioning them.

We all seek to be loved, appreciated, valued, respected and held in high regard. Yet when we cheapen ourselves and sell ourselves short, we play right into the groping hands of lust-thirsty men. I am not talking about the perverts out there. I am talking about the young, religious guy who has been struggling with a porn addiction. I am talking about your mates, your colleagues, your friends. Every.single.guy is wired to be stimulated by what he sees. There’s a fire inside every man. Don’t fan the flame. Let him see your worth and value – don’t sell yourself short!

 

We are at war against the objectification of women. We are fighting for our worth to be recognised and our value to be respected. Let us not sell arms to the opponent by blurring the lines of objectification. We need to take a stand against being used and objectified. We need to show the world that we are worth more by protecting our femininity and who we are, not using it to draw the wrong kind of attention – the very attention we war against.

 

We were created by a loving God who knows the number of hairs on our heads. We are precious in His sight. That makes us more valuable than we even realise!

 

Photo Credit: Gerd Altmann

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