Objectified. That’s a really strong word we’ve got here! When paired up with the word “woman”, it usually invokes little girls in beauty pageants or women seen as sexual objects. But just like rape culture isn’t only about the actual “act”, the objectification of a woman also starts when she is not seen as what she has accomplished, but rather as what she looks like.
Yesterday, near the end of an awesome #CodeNewbie chat, there was a question about our current goals. As mine was to post daily on this blog, I mentioned it and added a link. This is when it happened.
« My beautiful teacher »
Here’s one answer I got:
(Oh, and this tweet also got two “likes”)
I’ve heard a lot of women saying that they got mean comments or disrespectful messages. (“Nice tits!”) And to be honest, I know it exists, but it never happened to me. Being the one objectified was a total game changer.
Maybe I’m the one who’s wrong
Maybe this guy is simply nice. In fact, he did compliment my blog as a whole and even mentioned I was writing nicely. He also read a few tweets back and knows I used to be a French teacher.
Doesn’t that make his tweet nice?
No. It makes it insidious.
But it’s only an adjective
For those who don’t know, CodeNewbie has a chat over Twitter every Wednesday at 9PM EST, which you can follow using the hashtag #CodeNewbie. It is tech related, and this week’s chat was about setting goals. As you might have understood, my physical appearance had NOTHING to do whatsoever with the discussion.
If that man really wanted to use an adjective to spice up his 139 characters-long tweet, there are many adjectives he could have used instead that had nothing to do with my appearance (or the fact that I am a woman, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have used the words “beautiful” or “handsome” to describe another man that could give him a hand). In fact, here are a few: generous, nice, kind…
Why it is wrong
He should have never commented on my physique. He should have never used the adjective “beautiful” trying to describe me as a teacher or a dev. Somehow objectified me, pointing out that I was not only a dev to him. Perhaps he didn’t intend to make me feel that way, but he still did.
And this is why I hardly post any pictures of me on the Internet whenever I talk about a tech-related subject. (And also because I’m not that big of a selfie fan.) But still, I shouldn’t feel that way.
Thanks to my friend Debbie for her insight and for telling me “hey, it’s ok NOT to be okay with that comment!” You used the work “objectify”, and that was what I needed to hear. (Well, read. Who still talks on the phone theses days?)