10 Hidden Ways You Could Be Objectifying Women Without Realizing It

“Society has always been masculine,” said Simone de Beauvoir, a French thinker and activist who has become one of the greatest representatives of thought about women. Today, as in the days when she wrote, it remains so; and it could continue to be so if we are not aware of what we repeat, even without realizing it.

That women have a place of “second sex” with respect to men is the result of a historical process whose origin is as old as it is impossible to define precisely. With private property it becomes more visible: “owner of the slaves and the land, the man also becomes the owner of the woman”, explains Simone.

Considered as one more possession, the role of women has been relegated. Confined to family and sexuality, women struggled to take charge of their choices. Being accepted into public life, having the right to vote, occupying positions of power always reserved for men, have been some of her most recent victories. But it is worth asking, have they really been “victories”, or are they just new planes of oppression?

Beyond this, its place as an object of possession and desire continues to exist as such in tragic and visible forms such as femicides, or more underhanded forms, such as the advertisements we consume and the very sense of identity of thinking that there are things that we can or cannot feel, say or do, just because we are or are not women.

In this note you will be able to know 10 attitudes in which you could be objectifying women, so naturalized that you may not have even thought about it.

1. If you assume that housework is “done better” by a woman

Historically, arguing with their biological capacity to give life, women were assigned the role of parenting and other activities such as harvesting; while, on the man’s side, activities such as war and hunting remained. With the arrival of modernity, this division became visible in the physical space of the home: the house remained under her care, thus dividing the interior space from the public, where the man was in charge.

Many advertisements reinforce this role of women. It is not by chance that many of the hygiene and household cleaning products are aimed at them in advertisements, or have them as protagonists. This has a basis that is as real as it is worrying: according to the UN, women spend between 1 and 3 hours more than men on housework; and between 2 and 10 times more time daily to provide care.

Therefore, when you assume that a woman cleans the home better, that it is her job to take care of the children, or that just because she is a woman she cooks or should cook well, you continue to reaffirm gender inequality within your family.

2. If the way women appear in advertisements is natural to you

“For the man it is a sexual partner, a reproductive, an erotic object, an Other through which he seeks himself,” says Simone. If not, why do women appear in so many advertisements? She has become an object of desire, and that is where the key to success lies, the “hook” of consumption.

Does opening a magazine and seeing pictures of half-naked women come “natural” to you? With each page you turn you are making something automatic that does not have to be that way.

She thinks that the fact that a woman appears like any other object to be consumed makes the existence of human trafficking networks where they are sexually enslaved against their will, a reality that is as hidden as it is constant. It is estimated that adult women represent almost half of the victims of human trafficking detected worldwide.

In addition, this place of object of desire is valid even for herself, because in those images she sees an ideal of herself reflected, and again understands herself (and values ​​herself) in relation to an “Other”. Thus, she incorporates, internalizes, that she must be desired; and inequality continues.

3. If you assume that the beauty of a woman passes through her exterior

That you say that something is “cute” is not accidental. Many years ago, the ideal of beauty was different. Robust women with wrinkled white torsos were reproduced everywhere in the paintings of the most famous artists. But today, the ideal of beauty is associated with thinness, tanned skin, an ever-young face, without wrinkles or blemishes, without cellulite… “A perfect body”, ideally perfect.

Although this is not real, nor is it synonymous with a healthy body; it is an ideal imposed and reproduced with such intensity that it especially affects the very identity of women. The abuse of invasive and risky aesthetic treatments, and disorders such as bulimia and anorexia, which affects between 0.5% and 3% of the world’s adolescent population, are based on this social construction. For this reason, far from being individual problems, they speak to us of an oppression that not only continues to exist, but has become flesh.

Therefore, if you celebrate that someone has lost weight, that they have started a diet even though they do not need it, or you encourage your children with messages of “princesses and warriors”, or you give them dolls whose bodies are not healthy or real, you are helping to uphold an ideal that is as unattainable as it is dangerous.

4. If you think there are “jobs for women” and “jobs for men”

Just because there are jobs directly associated with women (such as cleaning jobs, secretarial jobs, or child rearing), doesn’t mean there’s any reason for it. There is nothing in women that justifies that certain jobs “are for them” or not.

According to a UN survey, women are more likely to work as salaried workers and in unpaid family jobs, engaging in low-productivity or informal activities.

This not only implies that women’s participation in the labor market continues to be unequal and that, in cases where they can access positions of higher hierarchy or professional level, they earn only between 60 and 75 per cent of the salary of the men; It also means for many of them a great economic dependency, a great impediment when deciding, for example, to separate.

In addition to this, inequality can be seen in something much simpler: their own aspirations: it affects what they think they can or are capable of doing.

5. If you think that menstruation or public breastfeeding is a shame

Although it sounds paradoxical when just saying it, the woman’s body is an object of desire, in the same way that it is also, from another point of view, a true taboo.

Menstruation or even breastfeeding in public places still causes itching for many people. In Nepal, for example, women cannot eat with their family, cook or touch water while on their period; and in Argentina, very recently, a woman was removed from public space for breastfeeding her baby in a square.

In other cultures, in addition, there are even more terrible practices against them, such as clitoral ablation. According to the UN, 200 million girls and women have undergone some form of genital mutilation in 30 countries and most were done before the age of 5.

6. If you think it is not appropriate for a woman to dress as she wants

Although the woman’s body is an object of desire for the man (and even for herself); when she chooses to live freely her sexuality is condemned by society. It even continues to happen that, in very serious cases, such as murder or rape, men and women justify these acts, pointing to the woman as the “provocateur” of the act.

That is the violence of common sense, which acts in automatic and naturalized ways, to leave power relations as they are.

What do you think about this?

7. If it is “normal” for you to listen to cases of violence or femicide

There are many types of violence against women and, in many cases, these situations begin with verbal and psychological aggression and end in murder.

According to the UN, 35% of women around the world have suffered physical and/or sexual violence by their partner or violence by a person other than their partner at some point in their lives.

If you think that the fact that so many women are raped or murdered is already just one news among others, alert! You are naturalizing it. And that is the key so that it continues to occur with such impunity.

That is why in some parts of the world, the mobilization of women is having strength and echo, to make visible this violence that ends the lives of so many women. Learn about the case of Argentina, where a woman dies every 30 hours and they have come together to say “Not one less.”

8. If you think that hospital delivery is the most careful option for the woman and her baby

Another area in which violence is exercised against women and their bodies is the health system. The most representative thing to observe is her treatment of her during her pregnancy and her delivery. Among the violent attitudes are: not giving the mother detailed information about the processes to which she will be subjected; not respecting her culture, accelerating the body’s natural process with medication, and not allowing her to be accompanied.

For this reason, many of them seek to have their children in a respected birth; or claim their right to choose not to have them.

Their body belongs to them, and women have the right to choose over it, and to access the necessary conditions to maintain their health.

9. If you think there are so many products and services for women “because they want or need it”

If it seems “natural” to you that women pay more for the same products, there is also a reality that you are naturalizing. It is no coincidence that there are so many “pink” products or, now, also “green” (the famous “light or dietary”). That the woman consumes them to feel more beautiful. More beautiful, slimmer, more and more…

Advertisements try to persuade the public that the products being sold are necessary for women to be “desired.” The market works like a perfect and perverse machine in this sense: it creates the need through advertising, and creates the range of products that promise to satisfy it completely, appealing to a level that is as affective as it is dangerous; since what is at stake becomes their own identity.

In addition, this is also related to domestic tasks, since being the “housewives” (although in many cases it is no longer their only job), around 80% of the total purchases are made by them.

10. If you think a woman should endure anything “for love”

The Hollywood industry had a lot to do with the construction of an ideal of romantic love, where women have one role and men another. Stereotypes and models are hidden in that idea, such as marriage, monogamous love, and the need that, no matter what happens, “love is forever.”

With that idea, which we surely have ingrained even if we say we don’t, it is possible to even justify situations of mistreatment, abuse and violence. “For love”, or to “not break up the family”, the most difficult situations can…