Sexual Objectification/Cultural Appropriation is Bosh
I want to readdress some of the logical fallacies and emotional assumptions embedded in 3rd wave feminism’s assessment of both sexual objectification and cultural appropriation.
Remember that sexual objectification has been labeled ‘bad’ because it necessarily reduces a human being to the status of sex-object, whether as commodity, property, or mere eye candy. This, however, is ‘problematic’ as the feminists say, since there is nothing either absolutely harmful about this behavior or even unnatural – in other words there is nothing socially constructed about it.
It is probably time to remind everyone here that much of third wave feminist philosophy is founded on the amorphous threat of patriarchy, a social construction itself and one that perpetuates by way of socially constructed ways of acting out gender. Sexual objectification is supposedly key to this, save for that it is not in fact a social construct.
Sexual objectification can scientifically be reduced to physical attraction and thus the primary motive behind human reproduction. This is a ‘problematic’ explanation for many third wave feminists, even if it is the most obvious one, because it leaves us with absolutely nobody, and I literally mean no body, to blame for its cause or consequences. Our source perforce becomes biology which is a difficult personage to indict.
I want to clarify here that I do believe sexual objectification can be bad, in the same way a hammer can be bad. But sexual objectification, again like a hammer, has its uses – some of which are quite productive. It goes without saying that the commodification of bodies, absolutely sexual or not, can be taken too far and create unrealistic standards of beauty or in more severe cases such as pornography, nurture exaggerated expectations of sexual behavior and gratification.
This, however, scarcely damns sexual attraction, what feminists are actually referring to when they use the term sexual objectification. Nor, might I add, are these dangers so pernicious as to warrant their prohibition or even regulation in so far as consenting adults go.
We do not have to consider the entirety of a person’s persona and being in order to harmlessly and genuinely admire a part of their body. I can look at a man from afar and I find his biceps, face, or back sexy and desirous without considering his hopes and dreams. Not only is it ridiculous to expect as much it is simply impossible, otherwise every time you found a person attractive for any reason you would be obliged to either immediately look away or approach them and engage in an inappropriately intrusive conversation.
This concept of accepting the whole or rejecting all of it has its roots in third wave feminism, I suspect. I cannot like the man’s biceps without knowing about and thus liking all of him, for example. You cannot admire the girl’s breasts or face without understanding she wishes to be a doctor one day, another example.
This strikes me as similar to when feminists reject a man’s great and indelible accomplishments because, as it turns out, he was racist or sexist. Thomas Jefferson’s contributions to the constitution are to be entirely disregarded because, well, like most people in his day, he owned slaves. Benjamin Franklin whored about, was a womanizer, and thus any intellectual fruit he bore was of the poisoned tree.
It seems today that historical figures, celebrities, and politicians, no matter their life’s work, in the face of this new liberal fascism, can always be reduced to nothing if but one contemptible thing about them can be exposed. This is not unlike the notion that, if one cannot like the entirety of the person, body and soul alike, you cannot like any of it. Bosh.
Having sufficiently obliterated that ridiculous conceit, I want to move on to cultural appropriation, the feminist corruption of cultural diffusion and what they define as when one culture, usually a socio-politically dominant one, ‘steals’ aspects of another culture for its own uses, whether commercial or otherwise, and essentially places it out of ‘context’.
I want to give one obvious example of this so defined term which will also illustrate the racist hypocrisy of third wave feminists. This example will show how members of a dominant culture, in this case African Americans, have appropriated and corrupted aspects of another’s culture, in this case Native Americans.
In case you doubt the dominant status of African Americans over Native Americans, remember that one of these groups has in recent years been at least moderately represented in both our executive (Obama, Rice, Powell, Holder, Johnson, Weaver) and Judicial (Marshall and Thomas) branches of government while the other has had essentially none and has been nearly driven to extinction.
In New Orleans during Mardi Gras there is a specifically and exclusively black practice of dressing in exaggerated Native American tribal attire, feather headdresses and all, and dancing about while making much ado. Now while some of the participants have claimed Native American ancestry, the fact remains that some do not or in the least, cannot prove it, leaving me to question why this practice is not hailed by feminists as being comparably racist to black-face. I might add that this practice hardly takes into consideration the uniqueness of tribes and in ignoring that fact, makes a monolith of Native American peoples – stereotyping them all as feather wearing buffoons who enjoy brightly colored feathers and dancing.
Personally, I do not care about this practice. However, by the feminist definition this is cultural appropriation, though not the kind they like to highlight because it doesn’t include a group of white people to demonize.
Or at least, that is one way to look at it. You could also say that it is simply the result of cultural diffusion, what happens when many cultures/peoples over many centuries have either been forced or chosen to intermix and interact. This is ultimately how all societies have been formed since the beginning of time. Most ceremonies, celebrations, clothes, and yes, even languages, are little more than combinations, hybrids, or derivatives of others before them. This is just how human populations work and form.
Again, can people be exploited? Of course. Can cultures be diminished, annihilated, or coopted by others? Indeed. But can they also be enriched? Obviously. Dominant or not, it factors very little into the equation.
I might add here that nobody owns language, clothing, or even culture. The French do not own the French language, they only delude themselves when they try to control and manage it. An Amazonian Tribe does not own its particular set of practices. Not only were they likely learned or borrowed from others before them but they will likely vanish or continue on those same terms.
It is worth adding here that if something is out of context, then it is out of context regardless of the identity of the person who misplaces it. So even were we to take seriously that part of the equation, how could we when feminists place so much weight on something as superficial as skin color or gender? How is an ushanka being worn in Florida by a black man any less ‘bizarre’ than when it is being worn by a white or Asian woman? If a statement or act is absolutely racist, then it remains so regardless of who says or does it.
If we take feminist cultural appropriation theory seriously, then we have to stop learning other languages, eating new cuisines, trying different fashions, and worst of all, stop experimenting and even improving upon them. It seems as though what they really want by this concept is to justify segregating peoples and preventing the dissemination of ideas new and old alike. This stifles communication, exchange, exposure, and education. Not everything need be cast in the sinister light of good and evil, and not every cultural exchange need be reduced to the legacy of racist colonialism.
Let’s start exploring these new, fancy, and often empty terms feminism throws at us to intimidate and silence, and start really exploring what they would mean if we took them seriously.