I’d Court You If I Didn’t Have to Objectify You First

A young man can’t take the first step toward long-term love, getting a date, because he can’t separate sexual attraction from objectification.

Editor’s note: This essay does not appear to be about marriage, but only at first glance. Curt Moyer’s introspection here is essentially about his desire for lasting long-term love, of the initial, often confusing spark. It is an example of the Marriage section’s openness toward the stages of long-term romance, not merely the toil or celebration of the time we find ourselves married (or divorced). We encourage more submissions of this variety. 

I was raised by a single-mother. She raised me to not objectify women. I remember countless times watching television or films she’d note that a blonde character with large breasts was an “unrealistic portrayal of women”. She was attempting to illustrate how women can be beautiful and not conform to societal notions of what is beautiful.

But one thing my mother also taught me was the importance of not making a decision just because you need a partner in life. For a long time she dated men who had questionable morals, generally “bad boy” types. She was struggling as a single parent, and she wanted a supportive family structure to raise me. These elements lead to a lot of bad decisions and helped reinforce my current values and convictions.

I made plenty of questionable, impulsive decisions myself. From my teenage years into college, I drank alcohol, did inhalants, drank Robitussin, took hallucinogens, and smoked weed. I hated myself and believed I wasn’t worthy of a relationship. I didn’t even lose my virginity until college. For the longest time I wondered: What is wrong with me?

I quit doing all drugs—except alcohol—when I was twenty because I had developed panic disorder and crippling depression. I have worked on these problems, first with therapy and medicine, and then on my own. I am much better than I used to be, but I am still far from well-adjusted.

The problem of What is wrong with me? still lingers. I realize the truth: there isn’t anything horribly wrong with me at all. Even if there were, there is also something wrong with the world. And while this might seem like a cop-out, it isn’t—not completely.

The way we negotiate relationships, particularly sexual ones, is troubling to me. I am rather average-looking, a far cry from Casanova, but I haven’t had sex in five years and haven’t been in a relationship in six. Am I asexual? Doubtful. My peers see this as weird or strange, and I would argue it certainly isn’t “normal” behavior. I have my justifications.

For example, I cannot hit on a girl without feeling sleazy. Conscious of feminism, I know females get hit on quite a bit; it has to be quite annoying to walk around with the constant, unwanted anticipation of being hit on. More importantly, I feel I cannot hit on a girl because I must objectify her, if even in a minute degree. And I certainly don’t want to send the wrong signal. Being a guy, particularly one so impassioned, I constantly get misread as only wanting sex. And this is simply not true. I’ve made a conscious choice, a moral decision, to not use people for their sex organs, and to value a woman as a person before I even think about sex. Yet somehow, people are moving in and out of relationships all around me while I stay put.

This is what I am referring to when I say there is something wrong with the world. There seems to be no point of moral conflict for a ‘normal’ person; people hook up and go about their business like nothing happened, all the time. But I am an “all or nothing” guy, with a desire to have sex mean something. I’ve had one-night stands and I find them completely taxing for multiple reasons: I’m not into the act itself because I have no emotional connection with the female (and the sex suffers for both parties); I don’t like having an ethical crisis after we go our separate ways; and I am very conscious of the risk of contracting an STI.

See, for me, it doesn’t matter if there is a mutuality between the two parties. We are people not robots. We have emotional responses even if we try to divorce ourselves from them.

The way courting and pursuing sexual relationships is set up is disheartening. I’ve heard it described as constantly “trying people out” until you stumble upon the right one. This seems too morally reprehensible. People should not be treated as doormats to sexual goals, but as people (this is basic Kantian “means to an end” ethics).

And so am I supposed to be single the rest of my life because of a moral conundrum? The attitude I currently have is preventing my getting a date or having a sexual relationship with a woman. Am I to change my attitude? Then how do I reconcile my morality? Through mutuality? Do I just turn it off? Is there something I’m missing? What, finally, is wrong with me?

Photo by yinghai

About Curt Moyer

Curt Moyer is an MFA student at New Mexico State. Read a poem of his here: linkity text

Comments

  1. There’s nothing wrong with you my lovely, you’re simply trailblazing… Heartening to read an article from a shared perspective. Thank you 🙂

  2. Showing interest is not objectifying women, being caught up in a conundrum about how unfair it is to persue women is objectifying. This is taking the equality out of courting.

  3. Wes Carr says:

    Do some reading on Men Going Their Own Way, or MGTOW. Also look up Zeta Masculinity. You don’t have to forfeit the game, but you don’t have to play it by someone else’s rules either.

  4. Yeah, I fear that my teen son will end up doing similar mental gymnastics some day.

    Here’s the thing, being attracted to someone isn’t objectifying them. Having chemistry, being excited to be in their company, is a good thing. Sex is a good thing! Enjoying each other through via consensual sex is okay, more than okay.

    Look at a someone to fulfill your needs, whatever those needs are, is objectification. What you’ve described doesn’t sound at all like that.

    The fact that you think about women and sex in such a healthy way give me hope. Thank you for sharing.

  5. One thing I’ve noticed over the years (especially in job interviews) is that people pick up on your demeanor and believe whatever superficial messages it sends. So, if you don’t believe you are a worthwhile person, other people will see it and many of them will believe that you believe you are less valuable because you actually are less valuable. This is completely false but it’s probably contributing to your difficulty getting a girl.

    Being painfully aware of objectification can be very crippling, I feel it when I’m not trying to be a bigot around other marginalized groups and I get pretty uncomfortable because I’m just sure that I’m going to say and do something stupid.

    So in an attempt to help I have some suggestions.

    Gain friends first:. But make a concerted effort to “just” be friends. branch out in their body types and personalities, check over everything to make sure you’re not thinking less of a girl just because she isn’t stereo typically beautiful. -Why it will help- It will give you something to think about that might productively help you to overcome objectifying women and therefore overcome your fear of objectifying women also once you’re her friend, it will be a lot easier to know her.

    Don’t worry about the friend zone: As far as I am concerned the single best group of people that a person can search for long-term partners in is the friend group. Yes, many girls don’t see it that way, but I guarantee, if there is chemistry there (and she is emotionally/mentally stable enough to listen to her soul) she will know if she wants to date you. A lot of the time, as you relax, she may notice that process and her opinion of you will change as you grow emotionally.

    As for how to talk to a girl without feeling sleazy: Focus on consent! It literally fixes just about every problem that society has toward women (and also men). Because a lot of women are skittish (for good reason), you might get told “No” a lot, but if while hitting on a girl, you take extra steps to let her know that you respect her decision no matter what it will go leagues toward making her feel more comfortable and making you feel less sleazy.

    Best of luck 🙂

  6. Rich Krzyzanowski says:

    I think Celeste hit the nail on the head. Just don’t hit on women. Talk to them. Be curious about them. Ask questions. Respond to them. I went on a bit of a celibate streak for similar reasons. What I found is that if you can approach a conversation with a woman without any sexual energy attached to it, the probability of a real connection goes way up! When you start finding real connections with people, attraction will flourish and a relationship is right around the corner from there. So keep your head up. Look people in the eye when you talk to them. Smile. Be honest and vulnerable. And have fun; your worst case scenario is that your situation doesn’t change and you’ve talked to a bunch of women who you may or may not be attracted to, but you will have learned from the experience of talking to all of them.

    Good luck, brother,
    Rich

  7. I am a feminist and I think sex-negative feminism is the worst thing that happened to human sexuality since religion!

    We are all sexual individuals. It’s just part of us! But just because you can appreciate someone’s looks, does not mean you can’t appreciate their brains and the rest! Go talk to those women, you have the right to do that and they might like you!

  8. Right on Curt! Someone who shares my same morals. I often laugh that I will never have a relationship or sex again because of these morals. It’s hard for a gal to find an upstanding guy that wants to find out first if there’s a connection, let alone sex. I also won’t have sex until an STD test is shared (mutually). I decided to take down my match account because all it attracted were horney narcissits. One went as far as to grab my boob on the second date! HELLO! The art of courting is all but dead.

  9. I have a question for anyone who claims they intend never to objectify women, in any sense, (for example, the author):

    What do you view/imagine when you masturbate? Beautiful landscapes? Fresh produce? Colorful tile? Do you just stare at your own penis? Do you not masturbate at all?

    Is it even possible that you’re like everyone else, except that somehow when it comes to dating you’re Purtanical?

  10. There’s only one way to court someone without objectification. That’s to get to know her first as a human being before considering courting her. Unfortunately, this is labelled the Nice Guy ™ way, and its practitioners are labelled as dishonest.

    • wellokaythen says:

      Isn’t this kind of a Catch-22? I mean, why go about courting someone in the first place if you’re not attracted to her? Isn’t being attracted to her one of the main reasons you want to get to know her better in the first place?

      • Wellokaythen – The pickup artist instructors are saying that you need to practice ,practice and practice, so that you get better at approaching, not worrying about whose time you are wasting. It is a whole new way to think and act.

    • I wouldn’t label practitioners of Nice Guy “dishonest.” But I would label them “inept” and possibly “virgin.”

  11. I was heartened to read your essay. I also felt sad, as you seem quite misguided.

    I am a single mother of three girls, so I have both the fear for them and how men may treat them as well as fear for myself in my relationships. I know my girls learn something – be it good or bad – from the way I live my life and the company I choose to keep. They see how the men in my life have treated me and I know they make judgments – about me and those men and men in general. I think they know I am human and some times I will make mistakes, even at my age (50).

    Women, like men, want to know they are smart and funny and cute/pretty/beautiful AND desired. In fact, I can think of nothing more sexually freeing than knowing the man I choose to be with finds me very sexually attractive. There is so much that goes into the final outcome of sex – intellectual attraction, the funny factor, emotional attraction and physical attraction to name a few obvious ones. I think there are plenty of way to show a woman you find in her all those things without making her want to punch you or turn and run away.

    What is important to remember, and what I hope my children know, is that we all have sexual desires. It is normal and healthy and no one should feel ashamed. We are animals after all and genetically we are wired to seek out and mate to further the species. And sexual desire is all part of that hard wiring. There is nothing sinful about desire.

    But, it is also important to understand that not everyone is the same and not everyone wants the same things out of sex. Some people really like the casual thing, hooking up and not having to look back. Some find that immoral. There are those who have spent time in their lives when they have only wanted casual sex, but later decided they wanted emotional intimacy and commitment. Others cannot follow through and have truly fulfilling sex unless there is an emotional connection. And there are varying places in between. All you can really hope for is to find someone who shares your view of the world, who wants what you want out of sexual connection.

    For me, I have never wanted to engage in casual sex and I have often wondered if there is something wrong with me, as I have endured a lot of teasing from my peers about the fact that there was never a time when I was hooking up with random men and going home with them to have my way. I have had more than my fair share of opportunities to do the casual hook-up thing. I have worried that I was frigid or boring or simply not fun. And I have friends who have probably wondered the same thing. What my life experience has taught me is that nothing could be further from the truth. I am just someone who needs the emotional connection and intimacy of a stable committed relationship in order to be able to have a fulfilling and free sexual life. It does not make me archaic or boring or frigid. It makes me human.

    I have had the great privilege to know a man who is smart and funny and good looking and highly sexualized who never wanted to have sex until he felt he was emotionally ready to handle sex. He was sexually curious and strongly attracted to girls throughout his adolescence, but he wanted to be sure he was ready. When he finally felt ready (at 19/20 years old) he did not know any young women he wanted to connect with emotionally as well as sexually and he felt it was important to have that emotional intimacy as well as mutual sexual desire. He certainly endured some questions about his sexuality from women who wanted to sleep with him and who may have been hot/sexy, but they were not women with whom he felt an emotional connection. I think their reaction to his ultimate disinterest is a statement on our society and how we view sexuality…if you are a man and you don’t pursue sex when you could easily get it then you must be gay or frigid or asexual. But that is not fair. As I said, not everyone wants the same things out of sex and if you look for more than just a hook up it does not mean you are boring or vanilla

    This same man once said to me, “Just because we are animals with normal animalistic urges does not mean we cannot control our physical desires. I may see a woman and find her sexy and wonder what it would be like to have sex with her, but that does not mean I act on every impulse. We have the ability to reason and for me it comes down to a choice…either I make the choice to sleep with everyone I find sexy or I make the choice to wait until I find someone I can connect with on an emotional level.” When he did find that someone finally, he felt it was well worth the wait.

    I am sorry your mom was unable to teach you to respect women AND to acknowledge their physical attractiveness. I am sure she did the best she could. That’s all any of us can do. At some point you will meet someone who looks at the world the way you do. She will understand you. Just try not to let your fear of failure (being seeing an a creep who objectifies women) keep you from reaching out to someone when you feel a connection to them AND an attraction to them. Make sure you find ways to share your interest and admiration without being lewd or abrasive.

  12. Katherine Kelly says:

    I’m sorry but you have been harmed by your mothers resentment of men and this resentment has poisoned your sexuality because the moral structure she built in you mind contradicts nature as the physical representation of truth.

    The feeling below the thinking that you label as objectification is your sexuality, which is the desire to use a womans body for your pleasure. This is normal and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying or seriously confused about human sexuality.

    You will do more harm to women hiding that you want to use their bodies for pleasure than you will by admitting it.

    Objectification is not the problem, deception is.

    • there is a learning curve. and with as much necessary rape dialogue going on, any physical attraction can be guilt producing for a man. to tell a woman she is very attractive is different than telling her how HOT she is. it really is a matter of being able to express interest in a classy well received manner. rejection is risk worth taking when it comes to human relationships. (OK, I’m ready for my wolfish beat down. as tom petty says “go ahead and give it to me.)

    • that was an amazing response. I love to hear such truth deeply rooted in our feelings.

  13. wellokaythen says:

    Time for some easy pop psychology. (It’s free, and you get what you pay for.)

    It sounds like the author is needlessly paralyzed by fear. On the surface, it seems to be fear of being a “bad man,” or fear of hurting a woman by approaching her in any kind of romantic or sexual way. I’m guessing that deep down there is an even deeper, more fundamental fear, maybe something about being afraid of his own sexuality.

    I wonder if you’re afraid that somehow you will turn into one of those bad boys who hurt your mom. You are not those men. You are not her. And, you are not just her son. You are also yourself, a person with a sexuality, and sexuality (or asexuality) is not inherently bad.

    Attraction is not objectification, but it’s totally understandable in modern-day discourse that a man would find it hard to distinguish the two. I’m not even sure myself how to separate them, so I tend to think of harmless objectification and harmful objectification.

    What’s the worst-case scenario? You ask a woman out, she feels objectified and says no, and then you walk away. That’s not the end of the world. No one is going to throw you in jail for that, you won’t go to Hell for that, and if others think you have committed a gender crime for that, that’s their problem.

    Just consider the possibility that your mom made some mistakes in teaching you what she did or in teaching you the way that she did. Remember that she is a human being, and she may be wrong. Or, what works as wisdom for her may not work as your own wisdom. She is not the voice of all women. Her voice is not your inner voice.

    I’m thinking you need to get your mom out of the sex part of your brain. Otherwise, when you have sex she’ll be right there with you.

  14. “For example, I cannot hit on a girl without feeling sleazy. Conscious of feminism, I know females get hit on quite a bit; it has to be quite annoying to walk around with the constant, unwanted anticipation of being hit on. More importantly, I feel I cannot hit on a girl because I must objectify her, if even in a minute degree”

    I feel similar, but not in objectifying but afraid I will annoy her and I never want to make someone feel uncomfortable. I find it a bit difficult to know when or where to hit on women, you read that some hate being talked to in public by men, some like it, some want to be hit on wherever, some don’t. My fear of making someone uncomfy is pretty high and probably way over the top. Logically I know I need to take risks, and to risk making someone uncomfortable in order to actually meet people. By Uncomfortable I mean ANY talk to a woman in public, not persistent creepy behaviour ( a no will send me on my way making me feel like I fucked up by making her uncomfy and annoyed at myself probably) but the uncomfortable feeling she may have if she’s been busy all day and doesn’t want to talk to someone. I do my best to read body language to avoid it but I’m still a bit shy about talking to women in public because of this reason. I guess I had it slammed into my head so much the message from creep-shaming that it’s made me nervous to saying hello to a woman in public.

    Obvious behaviour like reading a book, listening to music indicate wanting to be left alone but what about at events whilst watching horse races for instance? Is it acceptable to approach unknown women? To me it feels incredibly awkward and I tend to stick to talking to friends of friends, or meeting people through hobbies but I have often wondered how much I am limiting myself by not striking up random conversations with people in public.

    I always see women as humans as that is what they are to me, but I am so worried about never putting someone in an uncomfortable position like having to accept/reject a date that I am most likely shooting myself in the foot. Maybe I’ve read too many stories about women annoyed at men hitting on them or talking to them in public.

    I have no interest n catcalling, hollering, etc, but simply meeting new people and hopefully a woman to fall in love with (maybe casual sex but still iffy on that), but this fear of mine is annoying. Do most women hate being approached in public, or is it mainly to do with HOW you approach women and the time/place?

    My brother said a joke to me though that made me think, basically we talked about a woman I saw that was attractive and I said it’d be annoying for her to be hit on at work and he said the joke of she’s probably like “Why can’t I find a man in this town?”. Could it be that a lot of guys are now so shy and avoiding asking out women that women too are feeling the effects? That a bunch of men n women who want to be dating each other probably don’t get there because of this heightened sense of respecting personal boundary to the point that no one is taking the risk? Logically to me someone has to attempt to ask out another in order to date which risks stepping over their boundary if they are a stranger.

    It’s actually led me partially to only hit on friends that I like in the hope that it avoids the whole stranger issue but even then that has it’s own problems if the friendship has progressed far enough where they don’t wanna risk ruining the friendship with dating. I kinda like the idea of the old dances my aunt talks about where they use to be sober, guys asked girls out but had their safety net of friends around as someone else has mentioned on here so the fear of rejection wasn’t as high. These days most of the events I see in my town usually have people drunk off their nut at night, or it’s daytime and for some reason I feel even more awkward with looking for a partner in the day.

    Has anyone ever said this shit is very confusing? And Yes I am a very nervous person:P I definitely see the merits in highschools being taught how to court people because these days it feels like someone throwing your ass in the deep-end and I’m treading water here whilst others seem to be human fish and completely at ease.

  15. Hi Curt, I’m a woman but I feel I can relate to your story. I also suffered from severe depression for many years, and struggled with relationships. During one part of my life, I didn’t have sex for 5 years. Like you, I had conflicts about pursuing relationships in order to get my needs met. I thought I didn’t deserve to be with anyone if I had all these selfish needs.

    I think what you have to understand is that your needs aren’t “bad”. You are a human being. Wanting to have sex with women does not make you a bad person. The women who you are interested in also have selfish, base needs! They aren’t any better than you. That doesn’t mean you have to have casual sex if that’s not right for you, but it sounds like your fear and dislike of even experiencing your sexual needs is holding you back from relationships.

    As long as you treat people with respect, kindness and compassion and you won’t go wrong. Lust away, just treat people right.

  16. “I cannot hit on girls without feeling sleazy…”

    Did your mother make you feel this way when you were growing up? What was her growing up years like? Was she raised in a strict religious home? Was she ever molested or assaulted?

    • I feel similar and I think it’s from listening to the wrong feminists for so long, creep-shaming took it’s toll and women were painted so often as vulnerable that I, as a large tall man feel even more nervous around women because I don’t want them to feel nervous of my size. It’s like being told you’re a tiger walking near sheep over n over n over n over yet you’re a vegan tiger. I know quite a few guys who are very shy around women and are single. The ones with the who cares attitude seem to be doing fine though, those that will hit on a woman and probably won’t bat n eyelid if they made her uncomfy by hitting on her but will just move on to the next.

      • Okay, so you know who to blame. Congratulations! Is that helping you not feel nervous and shy, though? At all?

        My advice to you is to spend time around as many different women as you possibly can. Not with the idea that they will become sexual partners, but just to become more comfortable around them. My sense is that you will begin to grok that – while there are UNDENIABLE differences between the sexes, in general – we are all just people who want the same things.

        It IS, in my opinion, possible to approach someone of the opposite sex with something like “hey, I think you’re really cool and I have fun with you. Want to go to (event) with me at (time)?” Many people would find the straightforward approach refreshing.

        • wellokaythen says:

          Maybe the Golden Rule could be a useful guide? Presumably if a woman asked you out, you wouldn’t necessarily assume that she was objectifying you. You might actually welcome it. So, why not approach women the same way that you would like to be approached.

          Women can be attracted to you without objectifying you. What does that look like?

          • Can they? What DOES that look like? I have no idea at all!

            In all honesty, I have yet to have a woman (or any person) find me physically attractive free of objectification. Nor have I managed too with anyone else.

            For example, an ex of mine used to find my shoulders muscles attractive. She would look at them, ask me to take my shirt off and flex, run her hands over them, etc. She enjoyed their physical form. I therefore tried to take very good care of them and added a specific shoulder component to my workouts to try and develop them further because I knew it would please her. So she enjoys a part of my body and I cater to that enjoyment. I’m not upset about the dynamic at all, it worked great for us. BUT, isn’t that still objectification? She felt attraction to a specific part of my body for it’s physical appearance.

            It seems to me that ALL physical attraction is basically objectification. One is attracted to the observable shapes of someone else. If you find someone’s physique appealing, it’s because you enjoy the object that is their body.

            How CAN you be attracted to someone without objectifying them?

            • Being an object of someone’s sexual attraction is perfectly fine. Almost all of us will be at some point, and almost all of us want to be. It’s trouble to the extent that you don’t consider the other person a subject as well. If all you see of him/her is an object, that’s bad. But there’s no real conflict in liking someone’s legs/pecs/what-have-you and liking him/her too. If you’ve come around to the idea that sexual attraction is the opposite of emotional connection (and there are plenty of messages to that effect around – especially the “guys just want sex” hack) you could get yourself into a nasty double bind. On the one hand you may feel sleazy just for being attracted to a woman. On the other hand, you might well avoid being attracted to a woman you like. Have any “she’s a nice girl” friends in your life?


        • Okay, so you know who to blame. Congratulations! Is that helping you not feel nervous and shy, though? At all?

          It helped me quite a bit. No need to stay around the source of bad mojo.

          • Yep, same for me. It’s also a stark warning for feminist mothers in particular to ensure their activism does not harm their male children, I don’t think the majority do but there are cases and even posts on this website from men who grew up with feminism and it has harmed their sexuality immensely. I learned to avoid the more radical of feminists and I stick mainly to talking to egalitarian feminists vs gynocentric ones.

  17. Maybe all you need to do is reframe it. If hitting on girls makes you feel sleazy, then don’t hit on girls. By that I just mean, don’t tell yourself you are now about to make a hit. Just be your natural self, interested in her natural self. If you are able to walk up to a male in a social situation and make conversation,I doubt you think of it as hitting on that man. You probably think you are being social, or neighborly, or congenial…sharing the human condition. Do the same with women and I think it will fall into place for you. I think you have gotten yourself worked up over your social approach to a point where you are talking yourself out of it! It might take a while for this to feel comfortable, but that’s okay. Most growth is like that.

    As far as “trying people on”…I think that’s just an expression people use that means getting to know them. It’s completely impossible to know a person from a single meeting; that knowledge takes time, and it goes in both directions. Either one of you can decide that you’re not interested in progressing the relationship further, hopefully before things get too serious. That’s all anybody really means by this; think of your friendships through the years; you weren’t using people by getting to know them, and it took lots of time and experiences together to feel like you really knew them.

    I think it’s pretty clear that there are some cultural values that make it seem like love or women or both are commodities, with a buyer/seller/taker/giver mentality, and realistically it just isn’t a viable way of describing how emotional beings interact. I think if you just take a step back and relax into the ways you’ve handled yourself in other life relationships, you’ll find your way in dating. I would love an update sometime after you’ve had a chance to digest everyone’s advice and thoughts on the topic! All the best to you.

    • “If hitting on girls makes you feel sleazy, then don’t hit on girls.”

      This.

      There are ways of meeting people that don’t involve “hitting on them.” I’m not sure where you got the idea that the only options are to hit on girls or to be alone, but whoever taught you this conundrum was very, very wrong.

      Being comfortable around members of the opposite sex is, I know, easier said than done. But since you seem resolved – admirably in my opinion – to save sex for serious relationships only, you can at least avoid the “neediness” pitfall that snared me and so many men when we were your age.

      Find groups where you can socialize with women and men around things you’re interested in. You’ll meet lots of people, and there is always the possibility that one relationship may develop beyond friendship. And if it does… it NEED NOT BECOME SEXUAL if you’re not feeling it.

      I think I can say with fair confidence that a lot of young women will be thrilled to meet a man who’s not just looking for sex.

      I wish you all the luck in the world. I truly believe your “conundrum” is nothing of the sort. I wish I had your attitude back in the day.

  18. To start, it might be helpful to alter your language to reflect the humanity of women. Instead of ever calling women “females”, call them women, ladies, gals… Female is not reflexive of their humanity. Goats and cows can be female, too. “Woman”, “lady”, or “gal” implies their humanity.

  19. While I was courting my wife, I never hit on her or objectified her. I had to much respect for her. I found her not only physically beautiful but also found her mind beautiful as well. We went out on dates and had a lot of fun without any complications. We’ve been married for 12 years now. You don’t have to listen to the world and have sex within a month of dating. If you find “The One” then you’ll be doing it for the rest of your life so don’t be in a hurry there.

    Also, I don’t believe by thinking that someone is beautiful and sexy is objectifying them. How you respond to those thoughts though can make someone feel objectified.

  20. Curt, you got a lot of good qualities going on that any woman would be lucky to experience. I loved your piece. It’s very open and intelligent.

    Don’t assume that all us women are being hit on all the time. Certain females very well may get hit on all the time, but a lot of us regular girls aren’t. Some of us would love for a nice man to talk to us in public. I for one prefer this over internet dating. But I never had many men come up to me and hit on me in real life.

    But I understand why a cold approach is difficult for men. Perhaps it would benefit you to get involved in an activity that you like that includes both other guys and women. Usually sharing a common area of interest with another member of the opposite sex is a great way to break the ice. And I’m not just talking about romantically but the more time you spend with members of the opposite sex, the more you can see them for the human beings they are.

    I personally think objectification can be a fine line. While women don’t like being objectified or have their objectification glamorized like a lot of media does to women, we do want to be attractive to our male partners. I don’t think there is any woman that really wants to be in a relationship where a man only likes her for her intelligence but isn’t physically attracted to the body she was given. It’s a package deal because people are package deals. While we aren’t just our bodies, our bodies come with us. A woman also doesn’t want to be in a relationship where a man only likes her body or makes her body the holy grail of his sexual existence. We do want to be seen as whole people after all. But part of being seen as a whole person is taking into account our minds AND our bodies.

    I totally look forward to your next piece!

  21. The way courting and pursuing sexual relationships is set up is disheartening. I’ve heard it described as constantly “trying people out” until you stumble upon the right one. This seems too morally reprehensible. People should not be treated as doormats to sexual goals, but as people (this is basic Kantian “means to an end” ethics).
    But for all the talk of “treat women like people” that is just what most people are doing they seeking companionship and as move in and out of relationships throughout their lives they are doing so on the premise of finding “the one”.

    Well “the one” very rarely falls into someone’s lap the first time they go out dating. As people date they will invest in those partners and if it works out they will continue investing but if it doesn’t (hopefully) they will leave and seek a more compatible partner elsewhere.

    It seems to me that people are too quick to try to label anything and everything about the realm of dating as objectification (well anything and everything about the sub realm of men dating women at least).

  22. Evan Hughes says:

    I’m right there with you, man. I was the only boy in my generation in my family (out of like, thirteen cousins). I grew up with no dad around and two older sisters. I started having trouble with this young. I’m 26 and it hasn’t gotten too much easier (like I imagined at 20). I’ve gotten more comfortable with flirting, but I almost never initiate it outside private social settings (parties or gatherings). This narrows my field to the people my friends bring around, and the occasional woman willing to take the initiative. My female friends tell me women are intimidated by my handsomeness, and I need to be more assertive to break the ice. As I’ve gotten older, my friend group seems to shrink and become increasingly insular. I’ve had multiple dry spells lasting more than a year.

    There’s a lot of good advice in the comments, but how does one start a random conversation with someone based only on the fact that you found them attractive? Especially for people like us, who are naturally introspective? I imagine you’re friendly and a great conversationalist (intelligence and honesty are pretty reliable indicators for that), but you rarely initiate it with any random stranger (in person, at least… lol). So adding the natural tension of potential sexual attraction to the mix almost makes it emotionally cost-prohibitive. Leaving your general pattern of behavior to take a risk.

    Or I’m just projecting. Either way, I’m starting to find more comfort creating circumstances through a more Buddhist perspective. I know intellectually that starting the conversation is honestly innocent. I love the discussion above about objectification’s definition. So the fear isn’t about actually being a skeezeball, but being perceived as one due to the context of that particular behavior (most guys just trying to get some, which is fine for them, but you’re not).

    So I’m trying to practice this perspective: There are probably a couple of people in the world for everyone who have the potential to be “soul-mates”, and looks can be deceiving. But they matter, and often can tell you a lot about someone. No shame in trying. But, more importantly, whatever happens from the conversation and whatever she walks away thinking of you, if you are honest and sincere in your approach, you’re fine. If she thinks you’re slimy (for whatever illegitimate reason), have compassion. She’s the one with the misperception. For all you know she’s just as lonely because of it. But if you approach something honestly, there cannot be any shame to bear.

  23. Curt Moyer says:

    Thank you all for your comments. They have all been incredibly informative. I hope to start working on another article for GMP soon!

    • My bottom line? If you see human beings as full human beings (that is you know that that hot woman/man drinking coffee has a mind, a heart, hobbies etc) and you’d like to know some of those things about that person even if for a short time, and you as a suitor are relatively honest, transparent, and kind in your actions, you are probably not objectifying anyone. At least not in the academic sense.
      If you are seeing human beings as pawns or objects to be used for your own benefit (for sex or work or money) and you don’t care a whit about their mind, heart, hobbies, nor have empathy for their experience and you treat them with dishonesty, obfuscation, and play them off each other in order to achieve a goal, then that’s far more akin to what i think of as objectification.
      As for whatever wave feminism (2nd?) that places all men in the role of objectifier, try not to focus on that. As an academic theory I think there are things to learn from it, but from a modern day way of life, this isn’t helping you. Get a good therapist, meet some women who balance their feminism with humanism and other things in life, talk about it with them. Make actual relationships happen with no end goal in mind. Enjoy giving and getting positive attention (to humans, from humans).

      • “If you see human beings as full human beings (that is you know that that hot woman/man drinking coffee has a mind, a heart, hobbies etc) and you’d like to know some of those things about that person even if for a short time, and you as a suitor are relatively honest, transparent, and kind in your actions, you are probably not objectifying anyone.”

        Yes. This.

      • wellokaythen says:

        Yes. I was just noticing this, too. It could be that the author, ironically, is not fully conceiving of women as human beings. I don’t mean he sees them as less than human, but maybe more than human, practically divine, sexually pure, unsullied, needing protection from the evil that men conceive in their hearts and minds. Hard to describe without a really convoluted metaphor: a white knight who paints himself into a corner looking at a madonna on a pedestal.

        Again, I’m thinking why not let the woman you’re attracted to decide for herself if she accepts your attention or not? Or, more bluntly, why is it the end of the world if you like the way that a women looks — what is the danger?

        Remember, women are actual people with agency who make their own decisions and have their own active roles in sexuality. There’s no need to assume that all sex is some sort of power imbalance, always with a user and a used. Perhaps it’s not feminism that’s distorting things, but some sort of Marxist model of relationships.

  24. QuantumInc says:

    Fundamentally you have to believe that it is possible for a woman to want sex with a particular man, i.e. you, and for that to be good for her. There is an ancient model of sexuality that suggests that the sexual act itself is harmful for a woman, (unless it’s her husband). Ironically a lot of feminist rhetoric feeds into this. Feminists of course have analyzed these old and problematic beliefs of sex thoroughly. However some feminists only focus on the ways that sex can harm women and they never acknowledge that sex, even sex with a man, can be good for a woman. I think most heterosexual woman can remember positive sexual experiences with men.

    The subset of feminists who do acknowledge this usually fall within the “sex-positive” ranks, and they emphasize the importance of voluntary informed consent. Really, for every activity performed, everyone involved should be giving voluntary informed consent. This means they are making a conscious decision to participate, in full knowledge of what they’re doing and it’s consequences. Despite the stereotypes, heterosexual woman can and often do make the decision to have sex with men. They have libidos and sexual desires of their own.

    Sex Positive feminists tend to use the term “sexual agency” more often than “sexual objectification”. A person is only objectified if you strip them of their agency, their wants and desires. Sexual objectification is when you desire them sexual but ignore these things. The cure isn’t to avoid sex, but rather to return these things to the woman. Simply ask yourself, “What does SHE want?” Avoiding objectification is that simple. Quite frankly, it is also objectifying to assume she has no sexual desires. Sex Positive feminists often discuss the importance of communication so that you know what the other person wants and needs and has decided to do. If you both like each other, you should be able to find a way to full fill both of your wants and needs, sexual or otherwise.

    Of course there’s also he issue of self esteem. A person who has low self esteem might have trouble thinking that anyone would want physical intimacy with them. That seems to be the case with Curt, myself, and many others. I’ve been suffering as I’ve tried and failed to really find myself, and I have no hope of getting a girlfriend until I’ve got myself at least partially sorted out.

    However I believe that with some confidence, a healthy sense of self, and excellent hygiene, we can all eventually find and attract a special someone. Someone who we want to be with and take care of, and who honestly, really, wants to be with us and take care of us. Curt you just need to develop your self esteem, find yourself, study sex-positive feminism, and understand that there are plenty of women who would WANT that kind of relationship with you.

  25. There’s really nothing wrong whatsoever with appreciating the way a woman looks. Men are drawn to big breasts, facial symmetry, and a 0.7 waist-to-hip ratio because all of those things were honest signals that a woman would bear strong and healthy children. Fighting your biology is not going to find you a girlfriend or spouse; you may find that being willing to appreciate women for who they are, including how they look, is necessary (but not sufficient) for a long-term monogamous relationship.

    I can sympathize, but please don’t let yourself pretend that you’re nobly taking one on the chin for gender equality. We’re a sexually dimorphic species, and a few generations of rhetorical posturing is not going to change that.

    • Sorry, but this is again a false dichotomy: there’s no contradiction between experiencing sexual attraction and “being willing to appreciate women for who they are.”

      I think it’d be hard to find a more perfect example of objectification than “0.7 waist-to-hip ratio,” etc. but I’m prepared to be surprised.

  26. Tom Matlack says:

    Curt thanks for this (I am the founder of GMP). I can really relate to what you are saying in that I grew up in a communal home filled with feminist theory and action. The result was that I was very ashamed, and still am to some degree at the ripe old age of 48 a decade into my second marriage, of my male sexuality. Somehow it got into my head that desiring a woman was wrong. The key passage in your story to me is when you say:

    “For example, I cannot hit on a girl without feeling sleazy. Conscious of feminism, I know females get hit on quite a bit; it has to be quite annoying to walk around with the constant, unwanted anticipation of being hit on. More importantly, I feel I cannot hit on a girl because I must objectify her, if even in a minute degree. And I certainly don’t want to send the wrong signal.”

    This is the thing. Sexual desire has nothing to do with feminism IMO. You are not sleazy for being human. After many many years I finally realized that my sexuality isn’t something to be ashamed of and, in fact, there were women on this earth who enjoyed being with me in a consensus act that released me of any guilt. For me that means building a strong emotional bond first to feel safe. But in the end I also need to feel attracted to the person I am with. It is a physical thing colored by the emotional, but physical nevertheless. I would tell you that I think my wife is the most beautiful woman on the planet. I suppose I objectify her in that I stare at her longingly all the time. But in her eyes that is a good thing.

    • Many, if not most U.S. men, have been raised to think that their sexuality is something to be ashamed of. Where else does the fault lie, if not with the messages feminism has been sending us?

      • I’d rather take responsibility for my own neuroses, thank you.

        I’m just about Tom’s age, and though I wasn’t raised in a commune, I think I absorbed a lot of the same messages we all did. Son of a single mother, I was terrified when I started having sex that it would be nonconsensual, that she’d think I was pressuring her.

        Did I get those messages from mom, from the general culture in the liberal Northeast? Probably, maybe with some embellishments that were all me. Can mom take that away? Can “feminism?” No. That’s MY work.

        It’s fine to critique feminism and look at the roots of our behavior. Sitting around and trying to find “fault” ain’t gonna get my work done.

  27. I feel very sorry for you. You are missing out on what it means to be human. I too fell victim to this sophistry. I now am free of those silly thought. Do I objectify yep! I admire a fine physical specimen with a fine brain. Women also have objectifications that they do no feel bad about. It is part of the cultural and species primer. I believe that should we take the time to be human not the pawn of pseudo cultural lies like Political Correctness that the world would be a much better place.
    You are not responsible for other people. Only for yourself. There is nothing wrong with objectification when it is restricted to physical. But when it assumes values,thoughts, action, then it become something else.

  28. Pallus Pallafox says:

    It sounds like you have invested and continue to invest a great deal of time in introspection, and that is okay!!! You are normal! Even if you have to put a post-it note on your bathroom mirror to remind you of that every morning, you are okay!!! Take a breather, and reflect on the positive changes you have made on your life. These are things worth celebrating!

    Loneliness is a cloud that rains on a person every day. Know that you are not alone in the way you feel. We all exist in a social environment that rewards greed and exploitation, and it is difficult for people to open trust to others. Understand that the people you encounter have likely been hurt or abused within this toxic environment, and they too feel alone and alienated. There is a general disconnect to others that many (probably the majority) of people feel from others, and trying to break that cycle is extremely difficult. For the sake of self-preservation, people cut others off. Who can blame them? There are a lot of monsters out there. Unfortunately that means that the decent people out there have to somehow prove that they themselves are not monsters ~and~ move forward with the challenges of relationships. Dating is like navigating a mine field. Your slow and thoughtful approach will keep you from getting your leg blown off, or your heart and mind blown to pieces.

    For now, the relationship situation is moving very slowly, but that is okay, and you are okay. Again, you have made many strides in your life. Overcoming drug abuse and mental illness are achievements that do not receive enough praise. Look at where you are now… an MFA student who has been enlightened by the trials of his life. Most people just wallow in those challenges and surrender to positive feedback cycle bad behavior, regret, and self-medication. Celebrate those achievements. They are yours. It was your time and tears that went into you becoming the person you are today.

    Consider being single an opportunity to focus full attention on your personal and academic goals. Today, tomorrow, next week, and next month will be an opportunity for you to reflect on those you advancements and boost your confidence. When you begin to emanate positivity and achievement, you will attract the right kinds of people. Sure, being single in the midst of serial daters and hook-up artists can cause one to feel lonely, but those relationships aren’t what you are looking for anyway. You aren’t missing out on much. It is easy to slip into a depression over loneliness, but such a state is not worth your time. It isn’t worth your time when you can be focusing on becoming more awesome. Be sure to show yourself the same patience and compassion that you show others. It will make you feel as good as you can make other people feel.

    Best wishes!

  29. Thank you for this perspective, I can really identify with it. Especially the part about being unable to hit on women without feeling sleezy. That has always been a problem of mine. Thankfully, my girlfriend came up to me at a party and said hello. But that doesn’t usually happen.

    I too didn’t lose my virginity or have a girlfriend until I was in college. When I was 22 actually. All of my desires for women I kept secret, for some reason I was embarrassed of it. Like it made me someone less of a upstanding person, that I wanted to bed all these women.

    I also appreciate what you said about not using people for their sex organs. That’s a good montra to live by.

  30. I sympathize and appreciate your concerns, Curt. My advice to guys who are looking for love but have similar anxieties is to approach women like human beings. Going out with the intention of meeting interesting people and sharing passions will expand your community of both men and women.
    Being attached to unexpressed stakes is what makes people “creepy.” If you’re transparent and conscientious, you’re already doing *way* better than the majority of dudes out there.
    Be kind, be yourself, and talk to women to learn more about them- what they like, what drives them, how the like to live their lives. Isn’t that what you’re interested in anyway? Isn’t sex a bonus to getting have a great time making new friends?

    • Jonathan G says:

      Be kind, be yourself, and talk to women to learn more about them- what they like, what drives them, how the like to live their lives. Isn’t that what you’re interested in anyway? Isn’t sex a bonus to getting have a great time making new friends?

      No, sex is not a bonus to having a great time making new friends.

      I like to go out to meet interesting people and share passions. I do it because it’s enjoyable in itself. But it does not lead to relationships and sex. Ever. If you’re a guy like me, and you want relationships and/or sex, you have to pursue those goals directly.

      And that leads right into the issues that Curt is struggling with, and I have struggled with for many years, as well.

      • John Smith says:

        “I like to go out to meet interesting people and share passions. I do it because it’s enjoyable in itself. But it does not lead to relationships and sex. Ever. If you’re a guy like me, and you want relationships and/or sex, you have to pursue those goals directly.”

        If you separate like that you are objectifying women, saying those you pursue for a relationship can never be friends, and those you are friends with are not sexual. To do this is to close off the place where most people meet there partners. Persueing a goal of a relationship or sex is unhealthy in itself, and a sure fire way to fail. Every time you meet someone you are immediately putting them in a box of “friend” or “relationship” and as soon as you do that you preclude the other, and any deviation from that path will cause the relationship to fall apart. After all what is the point in being with someone you are not first of all a friend with?

        • AnonymousDog says:

          John Smith, I think you are misunderstanding Jonathon G. We are often told that we can meet people in the routine course of our lives, just by doing the things that interest us. What if we don’t though? If I go about my life, doing the things I am in which I am interested and passionate about, but do not meet any potential romantic/sexual partners, how should I feel about that? How long should I assume that I will just ‘accidently’ meet someone in the routine course? Should I just accept that I’m unlikely to meet women, or can I do something different?

          You seem to be suggesting that if a guy is not just ‘accidently’ meeting women as he goes about his routine, that any attempt on his part to change his routine in an attempt to meet women is “unhealthy”.

        • Jonathan G says:

          Oy, I read this response while half-asleep and I missed the first phrase about objectifying women, so instead took your comments as agreeing with me. Why? Because what you’re describing is quite similar to how women often treat me.

          To re-state my point, Curt has a problem with making sexual advances toward women because it doesn’t feel right to him for many reasons. Allison suggested getting out, interacting with people, having fun and doing interesting activities with them, as if somehow this approach and these activities gently and organically transition into romance and sex with some of the special women with whom you share that “spark,” thereby bypassing that whole squicky approaching-and-hitting-on thing.

          It doesn’t work that way, though. In general, if a guy wants something to happen romantically and/or sexually, he has to make it happen. Even if she shows some signs of interest, the burden is on him to act on it. Getting out and mingling on a social level is certainly a good way to meet potential partners, but the problem lies in the courting, not the meeting.

    • @Allison:
      Being attached to unexpressed stakes is what makes people “creepy.” If you’re transparent and conscientious, you’re already doing *way* better than the majority of dudes out there.

      Yes. But the question is, Is doing *way* better than the majority, good enough?

  31. Richard Aubrey says:

    I think you’re supposed to show your true sexuality.
    Geez, this is confusing.
    I know a couple of women who studied in Spain and Mexico. One resented all the hooting and whistling, said it made her feel like a piece of meat. The other said she wondered what was wrong with her when she returned to the US. Nobody was paying any attention.
    Trying to meet a woman isn’t offensive unless you’re stepping on something she’s doing.

  32. Curt – first off, you sound like a really smart guy. Just from reading this it’s obvious you’ve got good attributes, and as Kristina said there are plenty of women who are looking for someone like you.

    It sounds like you are looking for some practical advice though. So here are a few things to keep in mind:

    1. You are not alone in your frustrations. Men run into this all the time, most of us are not ultra-confident, smooth, super hero types. The good news is that while women fantasize about hanging out with James Bond, the good ones understand that it’s just a fantasy and want a real, live man who doesn’t fit that archetype.

    2. A friend of mine and I have talked about running a dating column, and while the world definitely does not need more of those the title we came up with for it contains excellent advice……”It’s Like Anything Else”

    Part of what I’m hearing is that you have some great qualities, you’re thoughtful, you are respectful, and you want genuine, honest emotional interactions with people. That’s awesome. Chances are you already know how to do this with friends, so practice it with women you may have an interest in as well. Dating and/or interacting with people you are attracted to is like anything else in your life. If you’re into gaming, share that. If you’re into reading, share that. It’s also important not to create high stakes situations, if you see a friend you haven’t seen in a couple of days you ask “how’s it going? Did you see that story in the news about the Justice Dept. investigating the Albuquerque PD? Crazy, right?” You don’t need to treat interactions with women any differently from the rest of your life.

    3. Remember that women are no different from men in our basic desires (although there are biological differences). We all want to be understood, listened to, appreciated. Never put someone on a pedestal, we are all humans and we’ve got great qualities and flaws. Good conversation is something you should practice across the board, and it doesn’t even have to be with the idea in mind that you might have sex with someone (if you’re interested in women, try flirting with a man, not sexually just conversationally, it’ll change the way you think).

    4. Everyone’s got different opinions on love, sex, and relationships. Maybe one night stand (or 4 night stands=) aren’t your thing. But keep an open mind, it’s possible to have fun, honest emotional exchanges that don’t involve the prospect of an LTR, marriage, or anything past next week. You just don’t know what may come of it. Heck, you may meet someone you never even get intimate with but who gives you a Soul Boner (my friend calls it that when you connect with someone on a non-physical but still intense level).

    5. Have you read Dr. Nerdlove? He contributes to Good Men Project occasionally, but his site has a wealth of interesting articles. He says some of the things I’m saying here but better and with excellent examples. I’m not saying you are a nerd =) but the advice he has for people who may feel some social awkwardness is great. —> http://www.doctornerdlove.com/
    Speaking of socially awkward, there’s a woman here in Abq that does some really cool stuff revolving around how to have natural, honest, fun interactions with people – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Flirting-for-the-Socially-Awkward/167040647007 or http://www.flirtingforthesociallyawkward.com/

    Last but not least since you are only a few hours away you are welcome to drop me a line if you’ll be in Albuquerque and want to grab a cup of coffee. I’m always game to talk more about this sort of stuff.

  33. You’ve been taught that romantic and sexual attraction is something shameful in a man. It’s a toxic message delivered to all men by (shall we say, the more strident versions of) feminism.

    It’s also total BS. “Objectification” is a nonsense word, made up to make you feel bad and apologetic for being male. It’s a way to keep men under control and reinforce the idea that their sole legitimate function is to make women happy by doing things their way. Dump that attitude like month-old milk; it’s only holding you back.

    Thinking ONLY of a woman’s sexuality is a bit shallow, yes–but you’ve internalized the message so far that you’re now forbidding yourself to think of a woman sexually AT ALL. That’s messed up. You are a male; you desire romantic and sexual contact. There’s never been and never will be anything wrong with that, no matter how many feminists try to convince you otherwise. Be decent, but be direct–and dump the guilt and shame.

    • Jonathan G says:

      You’ve been taught that romantic and sexual attraction is something shameful in a man.

      Exactly. I learned the same thing from societal messages, and I didn’t even realize it. The article How We Turn Boys Into Creeps was the thing that really opened my eyes, got me to think differently and started to powerfully affect my life.

      The “something” that’s wrong with the world is that our culture mostly lacks stories, beliefs, role models, et cetera about the positive power of male sexuality. You have to go dig it up and piece together an image of it yourself. Once you do that, and you start to grok it, you start to figure out that your sexual involvement with a woman can be something she desires and can benefit her.

      Change your notions, change your life…

      • Thanks so much for posting this article! Have you ever read Iron John by Robert Bly? Reading that was the first time I can honestly say that I wasn’t ashamed and hateful towards my nature and sexuality, but ever since then I’ve felt like some kind of deviant for feeling comfortable with myself, so I’m really glad to see that there are more articles encouraging this attitude.

        A quick note on objectification: It is not necessarily demeaning. Many women and also men (even myself quite often), enjoy being admired (exhibitionists?). And this admiration isn’t necessarily sexual.

        A perfect example of this is the tendency for women to be attracted to a ‘man in uniform’. Do you think it’s the individual wearing that uniform that becomes more appealing? Heck no! Uniforms are symbols of authority and status, and by definition they mask the wearers unique characteristics and individual personality. Both men and women are attracted to objective attributes and symbols, and this has always been so.

        Also, a quick mention on one night stands. It’s a really common misconception that men only use women for sex. I’ve been used a few times (I’m attractive but sort of pathetic and harmless looking, so this tends to happen to me a lot). I sometimes fall in love with the women who do this and feel awful when when they leave, but I don’t feel that they should be obligated to fall in love with me just because I feel that way. You just can’t tell how you’ll feel about someone until you’ve had some sort of contact, and sexual attraction is a perfectly natural form of first contact.

        And you know what? If a woman gets angry at you for being too forward with her, just apologise and say that you didn’t mean any offense. No harm done at all. She gets to feel attractive and admired but as long as you don’t hound her (somehow I really don’t think that you would) she really doesn’t have to endure any disrespect.

        • Jonathan G says:

          “Iron John” looks like an interesting book. I haven’t read it, but I’ve just placed a hold on a copy through my local library.

    • FeministsLikeSexToo says:

      Copyleft said: “You are a male; you desire romantic and sexual contact. There’s never been and never will be anything wrong with that, no matter how many feminists try to convince you otherwise. Be decent, but be direct–and dump the guilt and shame.”

      Please don’t blame feminists for creating the guilt and shame. We want good and healthy sex too.

      The problem is that embedded in mainstream culture is a message men are “sexual beasts” that must be “tamed.” The story goes that men cannot control these impulses themselves. Take the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast” ~ the title says it all. Men and women are both taught that male sexuality is to be both revered and feared.

      I agree, dump the shame and guilt. But please continue to challenge the message. The best way to do that is to acknowledge and enjoy your own sexuality, and at the same time know that you *can* express your sexual self fully and respectfully. Being turned on does not in itself turn you into a beast. It is your choice and completely within your control whether you take responsibility for your actions once turned on.

      Also remember, not all women have challenged this message either. And the risk for a women of misreading the situation is big. It could result in sexual violation. So sometimes you will be rejected even if you are being fully respectful. Shake it off and know that there are women out there who are in the place to appreciate your sexuality and will be glad you express it.

      • I kind of hate to bring this up but there is a HUGE mentality about men being sexual beasts through how they are depicted in pornography. Alot of porn depicts men as completely insatiable, ravenous and beast-like in their desire for copulation. With no regard for anyone but himself. I think men should be more angry about how their sexuality is marketed in those ways as well.

        I like what you had to say about challenging the message and shaking off the rejection of women that might not have challenged the message themselves. I agree with just about everything you said!

    • Don Draper says:

      I think “Copy” is straight on about this subject. I have waited (somewhat impatiently) on the right “fit” for a female partner for five years. I’ve been out (literally) with dozens of women in that time…the vast majority of whom simply did not “trip my trigger.” Like Curt, I believe most of us “decent guys” want some spark from the lady…and we feel a bit guilty when we meet someone possessed of the character traits we desire, but for whom we feel no lust in our soul.

      I think you HAVE to have some of that to have a healthy and vibrant relationship…otherwise, you’re being dishonest to that special lady that you tell you love, but find her most endearing trait is her beef stew recipe. I have no answers…but I have my faith…albeit weak at times, that the fit…the objectively beautiful soul, who is also the apple of my “eye” will walk into my life…however, there is a tension, to make the two factors mesh and even a little doubt that I’ve let some good ones get away. But deep in my heart, I know, to be tue to them AND me…I’m better to wait and to live an honest life.


    • There’s never been and never will be anything wrong with that, no matter how many feminists try to convince you otherwise. Be decent, but be direct–and dump the guilt and shame.

      Damn straight and regardless of whether they created the shame or just exaserbate it to their own advantage (I think it’s the latter) its still harmful behavior. Get away from feminists that do that at any cost.

      However:

      It’s also total BS. “Objectification” is a nonsense word, made up to make you feel bad and apologetic for being male. It’s a way to keep men under control and reinforce the idea that their sole legitimate function is to make women happy by doing things their way. Dump that attitude like month-old milk; it’s only holding you back.

      I wouldn’t dismiss it entirely as nonsense. I’d say there certain is a line that can be crossed where someone is totally reduced to being a sexual object. That said though I most certainly agree that it’s close to having it’s definition widened to the point where any actions taken by a guy towards a woman will be called objectification. It’s worth keeping in mind that there is a line that can be crossed but to hell with the idea that one can cross that line by simply being male.

  34. [It] has to be quite annoying to walk around with the constant, unwanted anticipation of being hit on.

    Think of it differently — does positive attention bother you? Do you hate all flattery? Unwanted attention isn’t about attention, it’s about the unwanted part. That word is important. Girls rather enjoy desirable attention. They enjoy sex. They are not perfect caricatures meant to reside on pedestals. They are flesh and blood. Internalize that. You are concerned about offending a mythological creature. Meanwhile, in this plane, you are denying yourself the pleasure of companionship.

    To put it another way, is it more offensive to give a woman reason to say “no” than it is to give her an opportunity to say “yes”? Is fear of showing sexual interest in a woman because of how she might perceive it not just another form of prejudice?

    • Eric’s point is an important one for Curt and others like him. I would like to add some definition to what ‘positive’ attention is and isn’t.

      Positive attention includes specific compliments about achievements and non sex-specific parts (like smile, NOT like breast size (which I shouldn’t have to point out, but it’s happened) or legs or ass). Do not engage in empty flattery, it is not really complimentary and it is annoying at best. Don’t just tell every girl she has a great smile. If you say it enough it becomes obvious that you say it a lot.

      You can hit on a woman in a way that doesn’t objectify by trying to have a light conversation before asking for a date. You don’t need to say anything overtly sexual, if she’s in her mid 20s or older, it should be clear to her that you’re interested. If she’s not picking up the signal, giving short answers, has her arms crossed, or is looking away or trying to look around you, walk away. She is seeing your attention as unwanted.

      Practise having short conversations with women if you need to. You’ll do your best if your conversation is natural, and not everybody is a natural conversationalist. How do you make friends with guys? Ask them about work, hobbies, movies, whatever. Talking to a guy is not the same as talking to a woman you’re interested in, but the basics for a good conversation are similar enough. Having an interesting conversation is positive attention. Deflecting lines, trying to escape a trite/practised-sounding conversation, and dealing with assumptions/awkward comments is not positive. Interested is interesting.

      Remember that women are human beings. Women are not mythical beings who belong on pedestals. There is something wrong with a woman who doesn’t find it exhausting to be on a pedestal. You have picked up on the idea that women don’t like to be objectified, but women also don’t like to feel lonely. There are women who just want sex or short flings (and they might respond to more sexually overt come-ons), and there are women who want relationships. Be clear with yourself about what you are looking for, and don’t say anything just because you think the other person wants to hear it. If a woman is not looking for the same experiences as you, walk away.

  35. I know (and have known) many people who don’t just hook up and go about their business. Or who meet people, make friends, develop attraction, then date.
    Also, asking someone out on a date because you find a variety of things attractive about them (looks, attitude, job, hobbies) doesn’t mean you are objectifying them (asking them out only because of a singular body part), it means you are attracted to them on enough levels to want to learn more about them, hence dating.
    You make mention of panic disorder and depression. Is it possible that you have an experience of dating and flirting that has caused some kind of panic response? So that any level of dating triggers this anxiety?

  36. Hi Curt:

    I’m a NM native too!
    While I was the executive director of one of the largest matchmaking agencies in North America I witnessed this first hand on a daily basis. I watched smart, educated and amazing women get rejected because they didn’t present themselves in a way that they could be objectified.
    4 years ago I left that company and have created a unique niche in the industry – Organic Matchmaker.
    I have a lot of women who would love to meet an evolved man like you.

  37. Moses Cantrell says:

    I went 10 years without a relationship, sexual or otherwise, and I have to agree with your point of view. There is a fine line between meeting women and picking up women. I got lucky when someone asked me if I would ever consider dating one of my co-workers – turns out we’re getting married next June. As for how stay on the right side of the line without sentencing yourself to a loneliness, the best advice I can give is be open to love from all sources, and remember that no one will hear you if you never make a sound. Keep putting yourself out there and good luck.

    • “….be open to love from all sources, and remember that no one will hear you if you never make a sound.”

      Wow Moss, that’s beautiful advice.

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