“Is objectification something blind men do as well as sighted men?”

 

This comment is from wellokaythen on the post “On Objectification.”

“I’m glad someone finally made this point, that there’s a difference between thinking someone is attractive and thinking that person is just an object. There’s a difference between seeing a person as HAVING a body and seeing that person as ONLY a body. Insofar as objectification exists, it happens along a spectrum. There is in fact quite a huge gap between noticing a woman’s body and taking away all of her humanity.

People have bodies. Our minds and personalities travel around in them all the time. I’m not sure what the alternative is to noticing someone’s physical characteristics, except blinding ourselves or trying to impose rigid internal thought control. Perhaps if we could get past the Pauline Christian/Cartesian dualism of mind and body as segregated things, we would be a little more comfortable in our skins.

Besides, I don’t see why the human brain can’t appreciate multiple aspects at the same time. It is in fact possible to feel more than one thing at the same time, contrary to stereotypes about men only being able to hold one thought at a time.

I sometimes wonder if objectification is something that blind men do as well as sighted men. Do blind men objectify a woman’s voice and sounds and scent? And if so, is this just as “bad,” or is it somehow less superficial because it’s not using visual inputs? Anyone out there know anything about this?”

Photo Credit: ktoine ~ Flickr.com ~ Creative Commons

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Comments

  1. I am concerned by objectification, but not because it exists. I don’t think objectification is inherently bad. I think it just becomes problematic because women are almost unidimensionally portrayed as sexual objects. We need to see women portrayed more frequently as sexual agents, as well.

    It’s in interesting question, though. I do also wonder how men who are blind experience women.

  2. Anthony Zarat says:

    Objectification has as much to do with eyes as it has to do with bodies:

    Nothing.

  3. wellokaythen says:

    Let me expand this beyond visually-impaired men and phrase it differently. Is it still objectification if my first impression of a woman is her voice and I don’t know what she looks like? If I fantasize about having mutually pleasurable sex with a woman based on her voice, I presume that’s objectification as well? (Parker Posey is cute and all, but her voice is what makes my legs wobble. Objectification?)

    Another way to put it: is objectification is mainly about looks, and if so, what is it about vision that makes it so special? Why is how something looks considered so superficial, assuming that superficial is bad?

  4. Amen to that. You can look at porn and still respect the actors, you can masturbate and fantasize whilst still respecting the women AND men in those media, I know I sure do.

  5. Is there any point at all to framing this question so that it’s both heteronormative and gender specific? Any at all?

    • I think that’s just the result that most conversation about objectification is usually about men objectifying women. Hopefully most of us here recognize that objectification is not limited to this one form.

  6. wellokaythen says:

    You make a very good point. I encourage everyone to restate, expand, or contract the question as they best see fit.

    I was not intending to suggest that heterosexuality is the norm, nor that women don’t objectify men. I certainly never meant to suggest that my perspective is in any way “normal.” That’s why I presented these as hypothetical questions, such as “if a man…” or “if I…” instead of “all men….”

    I hereby apologize to everyone that my questions have left out, and I encourage any I have missed to speak out and hold me accountable for the omission. Sorry to those I’ve left out:

    Everyone not literate in English
    People not attracted to women’s appearances
    People not attracted to women’s voices
    Those who’ve never heard of Parker Posey
    People without eyes, ears, or knees
    Those without internet access to the GMP website
    Those without access to visual images of women or women’s voices
    People who are both visually and hearing impaired
    People who are sighted and hearing impaired
    People in vegetative states or otherwise unable to reply back to me
    People who do not have a sexual response to visual or aural experiences
    People without the liberty to comment freely
    Those who process visual and aural input through an autistic perspective (Don’t assume everyone sees the same thing in the same illustration)

    I apologize beforehand for my ignorance in failing to imagine who else I have left out.

  7. Amid all the conflicting evidence, Karremans sent his mannequins around the Netherlands. The blind stood before them; they were told to touch the women, to focus their hands on the waists and hips. The breasts on both figures were the same, in case the men reached too high. The men extended their arms; they ran their hands over the region. Then they scored the attractiveness of the bodies. Karremans had a hunch, he told me, that their ratings wouldn’t match those of the sighted men he used as controls, half of them blindfolded so that they, too, would be judging by feel. It seemed likely, he said, that visual culture would play an overwhelming part in creating the outlines of lust. And though the blind had almost surely grown up hearing attractiveness described, perhaps even in terms of hourglass shapes, it was improbable, he writes in his forthcoming journal paper, that they had heard descriptions amounting to, “The more hourglass shaped, the more attractive,” which would be necessary to favor the curvier mannequin over the figure that was only somewhat less so.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/18/magazine/18fob-Bergner-t.html?_r=1

    it seems that congenitally blind men inkeeping with sighted men prefer hourglass figures. so it is quite probable that some will ‘objectify’ that form

    • wellokaythen says:

      This also suggests there might be something to the idea of an “inherent” male preference for particular hip-waist proportions. I don’t totally buy that theory, but this seems to support it.

      I’m guessing that a congenitally blind man will have touched fewer female bodies than the average sighted man would have seen, so the sample size that his expectations are based on would be quite different. Ask a blind man how many breasts he has touched and ask a sighted man how many breasts he has seen….

  8. Considering that objectification is about reducing someone to their body or body parts I would say yes. A blind man could just as easily be so much about a woman’s hips that all he cares about how her hips feel. When you get down to it when it comes to objectification there is more than sight at play. There is touch, taste, and other things at play as well.

    We could just as well ask if a person that had lost all sense of taste would still eat potato chips. Well if that person with no taste really liked the texture of potato chips enough I wager they still would.

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