In an interview with The New York Daily News last month, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner was quoted as saying:
The notion that Playboy turns women into sex objects is ridiculous. Women are sex objects. If women weren’t sex objects, there wouldn’t be another generation. It’s the attraction between the sexes that makes the world go ‘round. That’s why women wear lipstick and short skirts.
I read about the interview soon after it happened, but I thought of it yesterday when I saw one of Ampersand’s great cartoons at Alas, A Blog.
Objectification is not necessary to create the next generation. It’s not necessary for sex. And yet, when Hugh Hefner said “women are sex objects,” as though it’s a law of nature rather than a law of patriarchy, plenty of folks agreed with him, arguing that being a sex object is not so bad. As the last panel of the cartoon makes clear, sexual objectification is not the same thing as sexual attraction.
It is fallacious to argue that just because you are a sex object that doesn’t mean sex is all you’re good for. That is what it means. It means thinking of and treating a person as though they have no inner life, no emotions, no desires, no purpose besides providing sexual gratification. It is not “objectification” to be hot for your partner (or any person). A sexual person who is multi-faceted is not a sex object; zie is a sex subject. Sex can be life-affirming, but sexual objectification is dehumanizing.