Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pick your pleasure - and enjoy it!

by Jordan Bubin

Nadya Suleman, her of 14 rugrats fame, was offered $1 million to star in hardcore porn, and it shouldn’t really be surprising—just a little grungy, depending on your sexual preferences. See, it’s not a matter of sexism, depending on how you define it; it’s more just a matter of the same old-fashioned objectification you hear the Anscombe society wailing about every few weeks in the Daily Prince.

Nadya can’t figure out why anyone would want to see her naked. I can’t say it’s attractive to me, but it’s pretty obvious: Because she’s the woman who cranked out 14 kids. Because she’s famous, because of that last fact. And that seems to make a fair bit of sense.

Two weeks ago, two professors breathlessly discovered that men view half-naked women as sexual objects, and hypothesized that “women may also see men as objects in some ways,” “‘perhaps in terms of male status.’” I already pointed out a whole bunch of problems with the study, but so far as this last guess seems, let’s give ‘em some credit.

Men and women objectify each other. It’s natural, and in one sense, it’s okay—that’s what sexual attraction is. It’s not okay if all one ever does is objectify the object(s) of their sexual desire. What is fine is the objectification that occurs when your head turns because you see some exposed flesh across the room, a perky rear in tight jeans, a wicked pair of eyes; or when you hear a great laugh, or someone say something wickedly intelligent. That’s called desire.

I wouldn’t want to live in some utopia of lustless attraction, where everyone saw someone attractive and only ever thought “I wonder what they think about the bail-out,” rather than “I wonder what they’re like in the sack.” It’s silly to get angsty and act like we can’t have both thoughts about the same person, and therefore, not necessary to get angry if the latter thought comes first. It’s only a problem if the latter thought is the only one.

What does this have to do with Nadya? It’s simple—I wrote a list of things above that could cause sexual desire. To me, those are some things that are attractive. Other people are into MILFs, or pregnant women, and therefore Nadya’s about as hot as it gets. Other people are into wealth, or fame, and those things make someone sexy to them.

It might not make sense to you if that’s not what tweaks your nipples, but who are you or I to judge? I sat around in a bar last week with two gay friends, and we could all agree that graduate students and professors were frequently hot. The thing is, all three of us were saying the same thing about preceptors and professors, no matter their gender—the simple fact that they exuded intelligence and confidence made them sexually attractive. That’s probably objectification in a couple definitions of the word—after all, we were declaring someone delicious whether or not we were players on the right team—but it doesn’t seem to me a serious problem.

Objectification is a problem when it makes people feel diminished—either because they’re never valued as people, or when the objectification of others harms you (i.e., a deluge of skeletal models on television.) The objectification that occurs when sparks happen downstairs, isn’t just natural, but beneficial—you wouldn’t be here if your parents’ parents’ parents’ hadn’t felt like making the two-backed beast on the Oregon Trail.

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