Wollstonecraft & the Objectification of Women

There is no doubt in my mind that over the course of human history, women have had a significantly harder road to basic human rights then men. Even today, women around the world still continue to fight for what most men have taken for granted for decades: basic human rights, proper education and workplace authority. However, what interests me most about Wollstonecraft’s book The Vindications Of The Rights Of Women, as well as feminism in general, is the role that sexuality has to play.

Many feminists believe that the the objectification of women as “sex objects” is a negative, derogatory way to perceive them — which is most certainly true. However, there are some women who feel empowered by becoming objects of sexual desire. They use their sexuality as a means of having power over men and see no issue with the current hyper-sexual nature of our society. My question is: does this type of “sexual power” truly place women on the equal level to men that they desire and deserve, or is it simply an illusion, creating more inequality between the sexes than not?

My take on it is that for every women, the way she finds “power” and her identity is different; it is unique to each individual. For example, some women may feel pride and power when men at a bar are lining up to compliment them and buy them drinks, whereas another women may feel offended by the very same act, and find her “power” in rejecting the same men and refusing to be sexually objectified.

Also this song is amazing, you should all listen to it:

1 thought on “Wollstonecraft & the Objectification of Women

  1. Good question about whether using sexuality to gain power is a good way to do so, or ultimately leads to greater subjection. Clearly Wollstonecraft thinks the latter, but that’s because she thinks that if all women can do is try to gain superiority through their “pleasing” nature or their sexuality, this isn’t going to be a lasting sort of power. It is necessarily temporary in the sense of women aging and in the sense of only being attractive to any individual man for a limited period of time (over time, people grow used to each other). She thinks that true equality should be based on something more long-lasting, such as intellect and the ability to be morally virtuous in the same ways as men.

    Personally, I wonder if using sexuality to gain power doesn’t place more of the focus of the value of women on sexuality as opposed to our value lying (also) in other things. But I don’t know for sure; that’s just my suspicion. I also think Wollstonecraft is right about its temporary nature!

    And I did listen to the song…quite lovely. Related to your post?

    On a different note, can you reactivate the plugin that allows commenters to check the box so they can get an email if there are replies? Go to “plugins,” then activate “subscribe to comments.” Thanks!

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