Big Question: Can voyerism be good?

We talk a lot about objectification in this class and typically in a negative way. We don’t like the way someone is being objectified in an ad and so we target it. I wonder though whether all objectification is bad, or rather when can it be good? I work as an actor and as a model and so no small part of my job, my career, my dreams for the future, rely on me being objectified to at least some extent. I don’t think this makes me a bad person and I don’t think that it can have only bad consequences. For instance I think its safe to say that celebrities are objectified, and one of the biggest rising stars currently is Jennifer Lawrence. Many people objectify her and so are looking when she sends the message that she is happy with her body and that she doesn’t want to diet. In this way she is using objectification to further goals which promote positive body image, something we usually accuse objectified models of harming. Now I know that she is not the norm in hollywood, but it is happening and I hope that it will start a trend. Some of our greatest stories and poems stem from one persons objectifying gaze falling on another. I think the negatives come from only objectifying one stereotype positively. Objectification is certainly a dangerous thing, it can destroy lives when every moment you feel like you are being judged not for who you are but for how you look, but it can also point out the beauty in all types of human forms. If there were more dove commercials, more commercials featuring ethnic, curved, or average looking models then I think we could return to an appreciation of beauty instead of a mad pursuit of it. Perhaps I need to distinguish objectification in my mind from appreciation. Objectification carries negative connotations and is capable of harming both the viewed and the viewer, but if we learned to appreciate coupled with better overall representations of the many forms of beauty we could remain voyers in a positive way. 

One thought on “Big Question: Can voyerism be good?

  1. kcars94

    I think it’s great that you bring up the fact that objectification itself is not always bad, and I agree. I also agree that we need to expand our culture’s idea of the beauty ideal as a thin white woman. I think the problem with your relating personal experience to the objectification we analyze in class is that in class we are usually looking at the systematic and institutionalized objectification that reaffirms the male gaze.

    I can see what you mean about how in being a part of the entertainment business one must be willing to be used for bits and pieces and fragmented aesthetic appeal. I would also be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy poetry and songs that compliment women on their physical features but there is a difference between offering oneself up as a subject and being taught that being a subject for the gaze is a mandatory part of your gender performance and with that knowledge trying to use it to your advantage.

    In short, some people offer themselves up for objectification, and can even feel empowered by the attention they get from it. However, others have never had the chance to choose.


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