Self-objectification distinguishes us from our forebears. You might say we’re in an era of hyper-self-objectification (someone probably has). Social media gives anyone the opportunity to package and broadcast oneself as a crafted image, to imagine themselves as a work of art.
Popular makeup and hair for women has gone from the attempt to fake youth to unmasked artifice–it doesn’t matter if you notice it; you’re supposed to notice it and it’s supposed to convey a message–not about sexual availability entirely or even mostly but about identity, signalling aspirational class and aesthetic sensibility, philosophical, even political affiliation–blue hair.
The average woman long ago adopted open sexual objectification, what used to be reserved for the disreputable (it is said lipstick originated among ancient Egyptian prostitutes, not to recreate youthful lips but to mimic the vagina and advertising fellatio), again, as distinct from its role in enhancing sexual attractiveness.
Broadly the trend toward popular self-objectification it goes well beyond sexual signalling, is often asexual or even ironic, parodying sexuality or sexual vigor.
What remains is the vanity, the vanity of the individual indulging the experience of objectification, which is not necessarily dehumanizing, or, the fact is “dehumanization”, literally interpreted, isn’t necessarily unpleasant. The high-concept fashion adopted by the serious (or obsessive) self-objectifier is an attempt to transcend physicality and biology, to de-humanize.
I thought to contrast “dehumanization” with “commodification”, with the latter as a negative, but it occurs to me it that people are enthusiastically commodifying themselves, and in a wold of money worship the only concern is to be too cheaply priced a commodity–which doesn’t mean people aren’t selling themselves cheap. Self-commodification, quite literally, is widespread. Online an attractive woman can package and sell her image to men she never has to see. She’s taken the sex out of prostitution; indeed, she seems to have transferred the degradation in the sexual transaction to the John, who is legion, anonymous and sexually frustrated.
Nobody is supposed to believe the thick eyebrows presently in vogue; they’re taken up like a style of dress, off the rack. Likewise sexually enticing but outlandish effects–thick eyeliner framing rather than accentuating the eyes, ridiculously long lashes; sharp-angled effects in hair and makeup mimic the mechanical, the designed object or, I like to think, the palette, which is how the individual sees himself.
The world champion objectifiers of women are of course drag performers. Naturally the trans movement, which seeks a political identity for pathological self-objectifiers, places them in the forefront. The feminists are right about one thing: men tend to objectify more than women. What they won’t or can’t see is that, naturally, women seek out this very objectification–and who do they go to? Gay aesthetes. Men. No one objectifies women more than fashion designers.
The enthusiastic adoption of objectification is changing the way we live. Now the humblest specimen can find someone who will objectify her–and it is far more often her. Notable however how many men seek it now too–trans men are the biggest self-objectification whores on the planet, turning the same masculine tendency toward objectification upon themselves, belying the feminist notion it’s inherently degrading. It is the highest honor.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t cause trouble for women. It’s dangerous. To be honored in this way can be fatal. The feminists are wrong here as they are everywhere else primarily in assigning to biologically-determined human behavior a socially constructed origin. As if the guys decided to play this trick on them one day–but of course the whole silly idea of a “patriarchy” existing as a social construct or pathology has this problem of origins. Patriarchy was born of primitive necessity, a necessity we haven’t really shed, despite conventional wisdom.
The way women live now contradicts feminist theory identifying the objectification of women with misogyny.
Women seek out objectification–and they aren’t alone. The profusion of self-objectification through media is human nature meeting the open-ended indulgence of capitalist technology. Indulging vanity is Who We Are now.