Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Definition of "Objectification"

In my initial blog posting, within the cited quote from Wikipedia, "Objectification more broadly means treating a person as a commodity or an object, without regard to their (sic.) personality or dignity."

"Commodity" is also a very important Feminist buzzword (more on that later, perhaps).  Basically, Feminists understand the term "objectification" to mean to treat a person poorly or disrespectfully, or "as an object rather than a person."  Feminists consider persons not to be objects, and invariably use the term objectify in a pejorative sense.

The dictionary definition of objectify is "to present as an object, especially of sight, touch, or other physical sense; make objective; externalize", or "to represent concretely; present as an object."

The definition of object, as a noun, is
"1. anything that is visible or tangible and is relatively stable in form.
2. a thing, person, or matter to which thought or action is directed: an object of medical investigation. 
3. the end toward which effort or action is directed; goal; purpose: Profit is the object of business. 
4. a person or thing with reference to the impression made on the mind or the feeling or emotion elicited in an observer: an object of curiosity and pity. 
5. anything that may be apprehended intellectually: objects of thought."

 Parts 2 and 4 of the definition of object specifically make reference to persons.  Moreover, as persons are visible, tangible, and in stable form, persons fall within Part 1 of the definition of object.  Hence, contrary to popular Feminist opinion, persons are objects.

According to Serge Moscovici, "we form social representations by two processes, anchoring and objectification, which are both ways of making ideas easier to think about.  Anchoring takes place when we set a new social representation in the context of something familiar, making it more familiar...Objectification takes place when we make abstract ideas concrete.  [There are] two ways in which objectification takes place: personification and figuration.  Personification involves associating an idea with a particular person.  Thus when we speak of a 'free market economy' or 'union bashing', we often think in terms of Thatcherism; when we think about the importance of psychodynamics in psychology, we think about adopting a Freudian perspective..."

Being objectified, as Margaret Thatcher has been, is not an insult at all, but rather a very high compliment.  Margaret Thatcher and Sigmund Freud have reached the very apex of professional recognition, by being seen as personifying (or objectifying) whole schools of thought. Similarly, Gloria Steinem and Andrea Dworkin may be perceived as being the very personification (or objectification) of Feminism, as these two ladies are very much associated with Feminist ideas and ideals.

Indeed, Anne Kingston identifies the trope "women in the twenty-first century may go out in the workplace to become the men they once wanted to marry" as a classic Steinemism.  Another familiar Steinemism: "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."  Therefore, Miss Steinem clearly personifies (and hence objectifies) Feminism.  And, this is by no means a slight nor an insult.  Here is another classic Steinemism:

What, after all, would Feminism be without its Steinemisms?


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