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dagiarrat's blog

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dagiarrat avatar 7:30 AM on 04.09.2013  (server time)
Objectification ≠ Fantasizing

I haven't been around for various reasons, but when I saunter in once more, there's a familiar refrain droning on very much in the foreground. Something needs to be cleared up.

It has become clear to me that there's a fundamental misunderstanding of what constitutes "objectification", and this misunderstanding can be amply addressed by contrasting the word "object" with the word "subject". An object is a thing--a thing with intrinsic, unalterable properties common to all such objects, such as the wetness of water, which wholly determine the nature of the thing--which is acted upon or described by or thought about by a subject--a being with agency, the ability and will to make independent decisions and act from some personal volition.

This comes up for me due to the ongoing, persnickety argument over the "objectification of women" when "games" like this show up. First of all, it is this discussion of women which is in fact objectifying: in discussing "women" in this way (as a monilithic category with universal properties not just physical, but behavioral and mental) one ignores the fact that women are individual subjects with differing views and values and beliefs and ideals and so on.

To that end, pictures of women, in any state of dress or undress, are simply that: pictures of subjects. Women may choose to be photographed, and I've known many who choose to be photographed, some nude, because they enjoy showing off the bodies they work hard to cultivate and maintain (a cousin of mine included). There is no objectification in enjoying the female form, whether the reason is artistic or not. The objectification lies in attempting to delineate what can and cannot be done with, to, around women, or any other preposition you like.

Objectification is not the depiction of female anatomy, exaggerated or otherwise. Objectification is the conceptualizing of an independent entity with agency as categorically lacking agency, as being part of a uniform whole, essentially interchangable with any other part of that whole. Some materials which focus on the depiction of the female form have this issue, but not all such depictions treat women as a uniform body not of individuals, but of examples of a particular type. When women are spoken of as rocks are in a lithology text, this is objectification. When pictures of women intended for the titillation of homosexual women, straight men or bisexual whichever are created, this can only count as objectification if the act of appreciating the figure of the sex one finds sexually appealing is itself objectification. If that is the case in your mind, then the vast majority of the human species will have an ethical problem in your mind. If this is only true if the materials in question do not appeal to your sensibilities while others in that same category do, you have an ethical problem of your own.

That one can appreciate the form of an intimate relation while also recognizing and respecting their agency is conclusive proof by counterexample that the depiction of any human form is not sufficient basis to consider that depiction objectifying. If you wish to call games like this or this anything other than juvenille fantasy fodder, you will need to do better than "it has unrealistic pictures of lady parts for the sake of showing unrealistic lady parts." That ladies have parts and that these parts can be shown without the context of a personality is not itself objectifying unless the pictures women take of themselves are also objectifying or there is something more to this than, to quote one Conrad Zimmerman, "the male urge to fantasize an unrealistic feminine ideal". Men fantasize. Women fantasize. a key aspect of fantasizing is the creation of context from one's imagination. If men are fantasizing about these things, then they are by definition projecting their own ideas onto these materials.

So what's the issue? Is fantasizing wrong? Is fantasizing itself unethical? Then we are all guilty. Is it only wrong to fantasize about women? The answer cannot be yes if women are independent agents who answer this question for themselves, personally, as one individual whose opinion may differ from those of other women.

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