As a rule, I keep my distance from Reddit, the user-generated news, entertainment, and social networking site. This is partly because I know what a gigantic time suck it can be. It’s also partly because that site is a FEASTING GROUND for Internet trolls and I stay away from Internet troll lairs the same way I stay away from dens of hungry lions and caves of vampire bats.
Still, every once in a while, Reddit pulls through for me. Take this post from a few days back on a cool Subreddit where people ask super honest questions to women. In one post a dude confessed that he objectified women (“Whenever I meet girls. . .I often prioritize their sexual status over anything else. Over time, I come to see them as basically objects. . .”) and asked the community for help in kicking this bad habit (“I don’t want to see women as only good for one thing. I want to see them as 3-dimensional people.)
First of all, good on you, dude, the first step to solving a problem is admitting you actually HAVE a problem. Secondly, SUPER GOOD on the ladies and gentlemen who answered this call to arms and replied to the thread. Their answers provide insight not only about what it feels like to be objectified as a woman, but also why it might happen with totally well-meaning guys. It’s a conversation about the difference between sexes that’s really honest and generally understanding (for the Internet). Below, some of the strongest responses.
“If I were in this kind of situation, I’d probably try to hang out with female friends or acquaintances in a situation where you’ll be forced to interact with them in a non-sexual way. Over lunch, you could talk about things you have in common, hobbies, etc. Sounds corny but if you get to know some women instead of just wanting to have sex with them, it’ll be easier to overlook the sex and get to know them as multi-dimensional people.”
“Try practicing active listening when you talk with women (or anyone really). If you’re spending the conversation wondering what the woman is like in bed, or otherwise lost in thought, you’re probably a less-than-engaging conversationalist. That makes it very hard to connect with people and make friends.”
“Correct me if I’m wrong, OP, but it seems like your objectification is also a way of self-protection. I’ve known a couple of men in the past who embraced the whole macho, over-sexed identity because they feared rejection and the invalidation that they felt afterwards. However, a rejection from a woman would mean less when you assign her little worth to begin with. It protects your self-esteem at the cost of alienating yourself from the opposite gender.”
The user who posted the question initially, was vocal throughout the thread, thanking users for their help, but explaining the complications of solving this particular problem. One of his responses read:
“Thank you for the advice. I get along great with women on the outside.. . . I probably come across as normal. But inside, I’m a complete pervert. As soon as the attraction flip goes on, my hormones rage and consume my thoughts. All hidden. And that’s the worst part because not only am I gross, I’m not even honest about it.”
I really feel for this guy. It’s stressful to have a secret that weighs so heavily on you and absolutely terrifying to have a problem you fear you might not be able to solve. What’s cool about this thread is that it launched a conversation about gender that’s not often discussed: why objectification happens in your brain and how to stop it. And what’s cooler is that the advice some users gave was really insightful for both men and women who might find themselves objectifying the opposite sex.
A lot of people on the thread ended up suggesting therapy. One said: “. . .why not see a therapist? Their job is to provide a safe, non-judgmental space for you to be yourself so they can help you change.” This seems like really solid and sound advice. A problem like this is, of course, not going to be solved by one Reddit post or even a chain of replies. The fact remains this is a great conversation to be having and fingers super-tightly crossed that this thread helped some members of the Reddit community get straight with themselves and get started down the path to recovery.