EDIT: Apparently it’s Na’vi and not SteelSeries that are behind the video. SteelSeries have stated that they do not tolerate sexism.
Another EDIT: The video has been removed (or rather made private) but there are no available press releases or information posts anywhere that I can find. Let me know in the comments if something pops up.
Okay, so this happened yesterday on facebook.
And I didn’t really have the energy to get into it. But then this happened on twitter.
“In social philosophy, objectification means treating a person as a thing, without regard to their dignity”
Here, there will be a divided opinion, whereas some will consider it to be objectifying while others won’t.
The simple answer is of course “you know what? It doesn’t matter if you don’t think it is objectification. This ad still uses women as interchangeable sexual objects. That is objectification.”
The intent of the add is to use the unclear message of “pick one” to make the viewer think that Dendi could just pick a woman, who is in the focus, but he will actually pick the headset because it is supposed to be just that amazing, instead of trying to connect with the woman wearing it (vague, but might also connect to “gaming over *insert gender of interest*”).
Yes. Exactly. The ad uses the message “you can pick a woman, but you know, a woman is interchangeable with a headset. And a headset is cheaper. This (to me completely unknown) dude picked a headset. Pick a headset. They’re just like women. Objects.”
What is this? This is a prime example: Take the women in question. For many of the women commenting, it is clear objectifying as the women are seen as a sex symbol, and are worth nothing more than their sexual appeal to the audience. For others however, the women can be people that are “way out of their league”, and that they believe are amazing with their confidence and extremely good looks. With this view, it is not about a sexual objectification that removes the dignity of the women, but instead the raising of the profile (Dendi in this case), as this person has gotten interest from such beautiful women because of his various attributes (looks, status, currency, situation and more come into play), making the viewer look up to the person in question rather than looking down on the women in the video.
It’s not a coincidence that women are the ones protesting. Sexual objectification is NOT something we can choose. Just because you read these things into the video – that the women are self assured and the video is used to raise the status of Dendi – does not mean that it is true. I’ll get back to the damaging aspects of sexual objectification in a while. Meanwhile, a definition beyond the one given in the long tweet is needed I think. Also a way to identify objectification when it happens.
What is sexual objectification? Sexual objectification is the process of treating or representing a person like a sex object, one that serves another’s sexual pleasure.
Caroline Heldman has built on the findings of Martha Nussbaum and Rae Langton to specify a list that will help in the identification of sexual objectification. Personally I’d say the video is an example of reducing a person to a body, a reduction to appearance.
1. Does the image show only part(s) of a sexualized person’s body?
Usually this means that all aspects of individuality is removed from the image. No face, no eyes, no eye contact.
2. Does the image present a sexualised person as a stand-in for an object?
Can some part of the person be interchanged with an object, or is the person treated as an object?
3. Does the image show a sexualized person as interchangeable?
You know that row of women in the video? Those are sexualized, interchangeable women.
4. Does the image affirm the idea of violating the bodily integrity of a sexualized person that can’t consent?
All those hookers in all those games, remember them? Yeah.
5. Does the image suggest that sexual availability is the defining characteristic of the person?
Notice the stereotypes in the video? The “schoolgirl” pulling on her pigtails? The “sultry” woman running her hands through her hair? Well. The only purpose for that posing is to let the viewer know that the women are all sexually available. It originated in porn, actually.
6. Does the image show a sexualized person as a commodity (something that can be bought and sold)?
Like women on food for instance. Or women in vending machines. I’m not kidding.
7. Does the image treat a sexualized person’s body as a canvas?
Are they drawing on the body, basically.
So, why is this so bad?
Because objectification leads to women self objectifying. And self objectifying leads to among other things clinical depression, habitual body monitoring, eating disorders, body shame, sexual dysfunction and loads of other problems.
I’ll quote Heldman.
Beyond the internal effects, sexually objectified women are dehumanized by others and seen as less competent and worthy of empathy by both men and women. Furthermore, exposure to images of sexually objectified women causes male viewers to be more tolerant of sexual harassment and rape myths. Add to this the countless hours that most girls/women spend primping and competing with one another to garner heterosexual male attention, and the erasure of middle-aged and elderly women who have little value in a society that places women’s primary value on their sexualized bodies.
So you see, it is objectification, and no, it doesn’t really matter what you think it is. It may appear to be playful and fun, but it is harmful and far from entertaining. I could of course link to sources and articles, research and all those kinds of things that will confirm every word I’ve written, but since the tweet didn’t, I don’t think I should have to either, apart from what I’ve already linked.
If you’re still not completely convinced, watch the video with Caroline Heldman and/ or the latest feminist frequency video below.