i sat down to write about the commodity of women. but anyone with the slightest inkling of feminist culture can understand how difficult it is to extract something so inextricably linked to all aspects of inequality. women are, and always have been, treated as commodities. a commodity is a raw material or product that can be bought or sold. if you disagree that this is a definition applicable to women’s bodies then please stop reading because this essay is not for you.
i briefly took a step back there to review this so far (read: eat a biscuit) and in doing so realised that i have approximately 78,000 tabs open from various articles/journals/pieces i’ve read & bookmarked that discuss the female body as a commodity. this will not do. i have neither the time nor patience to succinctly summarise the history of patriarchal capitalism, nor have you guys - i imagine - the dedication to read a piece of such ridiculous complexity.
my point, simply, is this: (straight) men’s preoccupation with women’s bodies undermines their ability to see women as anything more than an object for consumption.
as much as i’m trying to avoid making this an exercise in historical fact-listing, the idea of objectification is of paramount importance to the feminist cause - and, therefore, this text. martha nussbaum (1995) and later rae langton (2009) respectively compiled a list of 10 ways in which a person can be treated like an object. i don’t need to provide all 10 to convince you that it is applicable to society’s treatment of women. the list includes treating the person as a tool for the objectifier to use however they wish, the treatment of a person as interchangeable with others, the reducing of a person to their body/appearance. if, as a woman, you have never experienced any of these things, you’re either oblivious, in denial, or extremely lucky.
many people have concluded that men’s attitudes towards women as ‘things’ are as a result of over-consumption of pornography. and, indeed, there has been a multitude of empirical evidence to suggest that it does, at least, play a part. but, whatever the reason, it cannot be denied that the perception of women as objects prevents us from being valued for what we’re good at, and instead results in a perceived entitlement by men to police our bodies, our behaviour, and our choices. think: piers morgan incessantly tweeting about why kim kardashian should ‘cover up’.
and, here’s the crux of the matter, the objectification of women - in a literal sense - does not allow for us to be anything less than perfect, and beautiful, and at all times. men want our bodies for their appearance, not for their function. they want us to provide them with a legacy, but not to disrupt the workplace with maternity leave. they think the curves of us belong to them, but the biology of us disgusts them.
it’s why they rape us, but can’t say ‘period’. it’s why they can’t have adult conversations with us about contraception, but then leave us when they get us pregnant. it’s why they demand a say on abortion, but fail to see why they don’t deserve one. why they want us to be curvy, but without stretchmarks. beautiful, but without the need for makeup to make it so. interchangeable with other girls, but not ‘basic’. sexy, but not a slut. they want to ogle our bodies, but will dismiss us as hoes for our revealing clothing. want to see the leaked nudes of celebs, but are disgusted by our body positivity. are desperate to see our breasts, but not if it's to feed our babies. want us naked but only on their terms, want our sexuality but god forbid we reclaim it.
let’s get this straight. we are not bargaining chips, we are not something to be owned, we are not ‘fair game’ because of our miniskirts, we are not the prize of your misplaced entitlement. we are not for your consumption. we owe you nothing. you are not entitled to anything from us. our beauty is not an ode to your desire. our femininity is not a dedication to your manhood. nothing of us is yours to take.
GRL PWR 4EVR.