by Furry Girl

05.13.09

Ah, "objectification", one of those buzzwords - like "empowerment" - that I've heard so many times, it just sounds like gibberish. And really, I'm not sure if I ever knew what it was supposed to mean in the first place.

This topic is one of my major headdesk issues with anti-porn crusaders. They say, "porn objectifies women!" as though that's some kind of end-all analysis. I address this topic from two directions.

Firstly, as a porn model and cam girl, it's my job description to "be a sex object", (as the anti-sexers would define it), and it's a job with which I'm very happy. My friendlier customers treat me like a multi-dimensional person, too- but it's not required of them, and I don't resent the ones who don't try and get to know me. (Hell, I know it annoys me when I, as a customer, get an overly chatty waiter or cab driver who tries to impose socializing on me when I'm not feeling up to it.) On cam, my customers pay $4 a minute for the expressed purpose of not having to wine and dine me and pretend to care what I'm saying in order to get me to take off my clothes. It's so much more honest than dating.

I have never met a sex worker who was unaware of that their job entailed before taking it. When asked why she got started, not one replied, "I became a stripper because I was looking for the true love of an intellectual partner who appreciates my inner beauty and doesn't oggle my body." Those types of people answer romance ads on eHarmony.com, not ads in weekly papers for "B/G anal scene $500 cash". It's not as though this whole thing is sprung upon random unsuspecting victims- it's the definition of the work.

"Being objectified" by customers is not something that sex workers themselves are railing against as an injustice they seek to overcome. It's a half-baked analysis being imposed upon our work from outsiders- outsiders who presume to tell the world what we experience and how we feel about it, without ever having asked us. That, in and of itself, should tell you a lot about whether or not it's a real problem.

(Sex workers do, however, regularly rail against being objectified by the media, anti-porn crusaders, anti-sex feminists, clueless academics, women, and others. We work as consensually "objectified" people who are and paid for our work, but we hate being nonconsensually objectified by outsiders who neither pay us nor respect us, and use/abuse us to suit their own agendas and make a profit.)

Secondly, everyone at their job is "objectified" in their roles. I don't profoundly care for the cashier at the grocery store, but no one's ranting online about how he's being oppressed and "objectified" because, at work, most people see him as "a cashier". I don't care to delve into the inner intellectual passions of the woman who made me tea at a cafe, but I'm not aware of any college courses being taught on the "objectification" of baristas. I have never fallen into deep romantic love with a nurse who's weighed me and taken my blood pressure at the doctor's office, but if there are protesters outside the clinic that day, their signs don't read, "Stop the exploitation of women! Planned Parenthood objectifies nurses as mere one-dimensional healthcare workers!"

We can't have a genuine connection with everyone we encounter in our lives, whether they are strippers or bus drivers or sales clerks at a shoe store. To say that "being objectified" as a sex worker is somehow so vastly different than "being objectified" in any other role is telling about the accuser's personal issues with the sex, not the work.

Some people try to "take a step back" and use this as a part of a broader critique of capitalism, but I disagree with that, too. So, under socialism, anarchism, or what-have-you-ism, every human will express heartfelt interest in the well-being of every single human they come into contact with over the course of a day? I find that quite silly.

We all choose how we pick some people as our lovers, some as our friends, some as acquaintances we smile at politely once a week. It's not about economic systems or patriarchy or oppression- it's about time and energy. No one has the time and energy to emotionally/intellectually intertwine themselves in everyone they interact with, and it's ludicrous to think that one should or could.

Whether we choose to not invest ourselves in the janitor or to not invest ourselves in the cam girl, it doesn't matter on an ethical level. One is not inherently a Major Social Problem just because it involves sex.





10 Comments

  1. Well if the porn thing doesn't work out I think you definitely have a knack for writing! ;-)

    Comment by Far-L — May 18, 2009 @ 12:48 pm

  2. Well, it sure beats pouring out all my energy on adult webmaster boards.

    Comment by Furry Girl — May 18, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

  3. This post is so full of win its not even funny! Its basically everything I've ever had to say about the "objectification" argument concerning porn, but in one neat, succinct, well-written post. I am so linking to this posting every time this subject rears its head on the Internets!

    Comment by Iamcuriousblue — May 27, 2009 @ 8:26 pm

  4. I think even the term “objectification” is misleading. We don’t “objectify” people; we just fail to “subjectify” them. When you encounter someone for the first time, they are an object to you. All you know about them is what you perceive with your senses. You can only guess about their subjective experience, and in the beginning, your guesses are as likely as not to be wrong. If you approach someone from the beginning “without objectification”, you’re making the often unwarranted assumption that you know something about their subjective experience: otherwise, the subject is just a blank slate. If you try to subjectify someone too quickly in an attempt to avoid “objectifying” them, you’re kind of invading their personal experiential space in a way that is more harmful to them than if you had just allowed them to be the object that they initially are.

    I’d also note that, at least from my experience, good porn often encourages the viewer to subjectify the people in it. When I watch someone else experiencing sexual pleasure, it’s more a case of participating vicariously in their pleasure rather than being thrilled by the outward signs of it.

    Comment by dclaudekatz — June 2, 2009 @ 7:51 am

  5. I agree with you on this, especially in regard to your contrast with menial labour, but I think the mainstream porn world has alot to answer for.

    Comment by Christine — August 30, 2009 @ 5:29 am

  6. Excellent! I would only add that we DO have some hard-wiring for "objectification" when it comes to sex--lips, breasts, nipples, and a fine ass all trigger reactions in our brains, no matter who they are attached to. Isn't that the point of porn??

    A good sex worker, IMHO, is to take those reactions and build them into a powerful and erotic experience that is fully subjective. As you said, "good porn often encourages the viewer to subjectivity the people in it.." Shall I say "AMEN"!

    Comment by John — July 28, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

  7. I think the argument as I've heard it presented is not so much that porn objectifies the women involved in creating it, but that it gets the porn consumer into the habit of objectifying women, which then spills over to other women in his life outside of the context of the porn. I see it as another glimpse of the same reasoning behind the "video games make kids violent" argument. Neither are arguments I'm likely to accept, mind.

    Comment by Josh — August 3, 2010 @ 6:56 am

  8. Comment by Trackbacks — March 23, 2017 @ 8:10 am

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