For Men: Sexual Harassment and Objectification – How Do They Work?

By: Athena Brown

There seems to be some confusion as to what sexual harassment and objectification are, and how they work.  While women can tell you exactly what counts as either one, and how it affects them, men seem to have a really hard time figuring this out.  This post is dedicated to you fellas!

First, a few examples of what counts as street harassment, according to 3rd Wave feminism.

Take a moment to watch the video.  The young man at 1:02 clearly tells us that street harassment includes things like “Psssst”.

You may not have known this, but if you’ve ever gone “psssst” at a girl, you street-harassed her.  I know – its tricky.  Especially when the woman just seconds before that told us that street harassment also includes public masturbation.  It may seem unfathomably ludicrous to compare whipping your dick out in public and hammering way, to something like going “psssst”, but don’t let your male privilege blind you.  If you ever made sounds with your mouth that a woman didn’t like, then you might as well have spanked the funky monkey right then and there.

This might still be a little confusing, so here’s a few more examples:

As you can see in this video, talking to women as they walk by is street harassment (there are exceptions, but we’ll get to that in a while, just sit tight).  Nothing in the video is indicating that WHAT the men say is a factor.  The mere fact that men are talking as the women pass by is all that’s required for this re-interpretation of what they supposedly mean.

At this point, you might be scratching your head, and wondering, “So I’m not allowed to talk in public?  Don’t I have the freedom of speech?  If a woman is allowed to express herself and her sexuality by what she wears, aren’t I allowed to express myself and my sexuality by what I say?”

The answer to all of these is – No.  According to the Third Reich – I mean – Third Wave, as a straight, heterosexual man, the only thing you are allowed to feel when a woman walks by is silent, quiet shame.  The guy at 00:34 helps explains this – you may be giving a woman all your attention, but don’t.  Rebecca Watson helped make this clear – if you see a woman, and want to ask her for coffee, just remember those 3 little words:

“Don’t do that”.

Remember, speaking your mind, talking without permission, or expressing yourself verbally in any way, is wrong.  And I can’t imagine why you’d think this is unfair.  I mean it’s not like we ever lived in an age where women were told this very same thing.  … oh, wait…

Anyway!  One more video and we’ll move on.

Saying “chicks are hot” is absolutely across the line.  Once again, expressing your thoughts and feelings is simply not allowed.  And this isn’t some rehashed MRA strawman – this is being made evidently clear from 3rd Waver videos like these.  Even if you’re not saying these things to a woman directly, if a woman walks by and hears you, it’s still wrong.  You’re not ever supposed to have an opinion.  Not in the presence of the female gender.  And the woman in this video says it best at 00:35 – women do not want men to make comments to them.  So keep your mouth shut and stay quiet when you’re out in public.

Now like I mentioned earlier, for 3rd Wavers, there are times when you are allowed to talk and express yourself like a normal human being.  For everyone else, that time is called “Whenever You Want, Because You’re a Human Being”.  When dealing with 3rd Wavers, it’s tricky, but I’ll make it easy to understand by comparing 2 different men, and how they act.

… well actually, I’ll be comparing 2 different men.  How they act will be exactly the same.  Keep that in mind, as this whole thing will shortly become very clear and will no longer have any misunderstanding as to how we determine what counts as sexual harassment.

Sexual Harassment: Here’s How You Tell

Imagine for a moment that you’re a woman, and you’re standing in front of an elevator in an empty lobby. It’s late, you just finished work, and you’re all alone. You forgot some papers you need to take home with you, so you’ll need to go back up to your office and get them.

As you’re waiting for the elevator, you hear footsteps coming from behind you. You turn to look; it’s a hunched over straggly middle aged man with teeth missing and holes in his shirt, holding a push broom, and wearing a company hat. While still making pushing motions with the broom, he looks you up and down, clearly giving you ‘that look’, and says “Gee missy! You sure are hot lookin! How bout I get ur number and we can keep in touch?”

Clearly, he’s ogling you, right? And this is probably a form of sexual harassment. After all, it’s definitely unwanted sexual attention.  You could report him, and he’d lose his job.

Ok now lets start over and try again.

Imagine for a moment you’re standing at an elevator in an empty lobby. Same thing, just like before. You hear footsteps from behind coming your way…

You turn and look — it’s a tall, handsome, blond haired blue eyed chiseled hunk of a man, wearing a thousand dollar business suit, pocketing the keys to his Aston-Martin.  He walks over and stands beside you at the elevator. You probably see where this is going. His gaze is on the elevator numbers while he stands there and waits. He knows you’re looking at him, but doesn’t turn to meet your look, and lets a moment go by, allowing you to take in the view. That’s right – he’s confident, and it shows. When he finally does turn to look, he smiles, and speaks with a French-Romanian accent, “Hi there. Forgot something and going back up? Me too. ;)” Then looks you up and down, clearly giving you ‘that look’. “You know, you’re hot. I think I’ve seen you around. What’s your name?”

He doesn’t ask for your number because chances are, before you come back down, you’ll have given it to him.

Here you got all the same stuff that you would have got from the other guy – same exact level and intensity of male attention. In both cases, you’re getting “objectified” by a guy you don’t know. But see the difference? You’d be horrified if that scraggly little troll is touching himself thinking of you later that night… but swooning if the other guy is doing the same thing.

That short fat little bald headed creep at the supermarket who sexually harassed a woman because he asked for her number – replace him with Fabio. Suddenly, the sexual harassment vanishes, and you’re allowed to say “Pssst” all you want.

Women who spend hours making themselves look good are hoping its that tall handsome chiseled French-Romanian guy with the Aston-Martin who comes over and talks to them. He’ll objectify the hell out of them, but that’s exactly what we want! We want him to walk up and say hello, tell us we’re beautiful, and sweep us off our feet! It’s only called “objectification” when it’s that geeky nerd with the taped frames and freckled nose who still lives with his mom that comes up and tries that very same thing.

The problem here is, when you put all that effort into your appearance, and you’re hoping to attract a certain kind of guy (which ever kind of guy you’re into), you can’t really help but also attract all the other kinds of guys that you don’t like.

Women have the power of agency.  Women get to determine what counts as harassment and what doesn’t.  It’s women who call the shots of what man they accept, and men are pressured to meet impossible standards in hopes of being accepted by them.  Putting such standards on what men are acceptable and which aren’t based on socio-economic signifiers of what they can achieve and provide… sounds almost like… they’re being treated like objects.  Right?  It’s almost like you’re shopping for the best product?

I mean if a man want’s a woman with big tits and a narrow waistline, he’s definitely objectifying her (he’s not, it’s just what he happens to be attracted to – but lets go with this for now).  But if a woman places standards on what man she finds acceptable, isn’t this *also* objectification?

By the actual definitions of that word, no – nobody objectifies anyone else, except maybe serial killers and sociopaths.  But that’s a topic for another post.  For now, lets go with the generic usage, and see whether or not men get objectified more than women.

Objectification: Who Gets It More

As a woman, to be valuable and attractive enough to appear on a magazine cover, all I have to do is put on makeup and look pretty.  This takes a lot of work.  Getting my eyeliner just right is tough.

As a man, to get the same degree of value and attractiveness, I have to study hard all throughout high school to get into the best college possible, then study hard all throughout college while also making the right kinds of business connections and contacts before graduation that will allow me better job placement (or in today’s economy – ANY job placement) then work like hell at my job while busting my ass 24/7 to keep my sanity while I work overtime and put myself through grad school so I can earn an EVEN better job where I’ll viciously compete against people in other offices — and people in my OWN office — for a possible chance at that promotion that will land me with more work than I could ever possibly handle where I have to bite off more than I can chew and then somehow chew it, and if I am one of the very few lucky ones that have all the opportunities to do this in the first place and survive all the back stabbing that goes with it and not climb the corporate ladder just to discover that it’s leaned on the wrong wall — then…

THEN…

I can have the pleasure of being objectified by women.  And speaking as a woman who used to be a man, I know first hand what both of these are like, and which one is harder.  Putting on eyeliner and wearing something cute takes a lot of work.  Trust me.  You guys out there are lucky you don’t have to put up with the opposite sex constantly fawning over you everywhere you go.  It’s just awful.  *wink!*

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