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Feminism and objectification of women


Feminism word is very inclusive in itself as it is influenced by so many theories and practices because it struggles for egalitarian and equal social and political world, apart from theory feminism has made inroads in the state and society as a movement trying to demolish patriarchy and calling for society where equal distribution of resources and opportunities must be available for each gender. However, its definition varies from people to people and place to place. People interpret concept of feminism according to their own experiences and ideological orientation as well as class.
If you are a woman and belong to an underprivileged class and live in a society where misogynistic tendencies are prevalent, there are more chances that you will live a miserable life. The status of women in Pakistan is not exception. Pakistan ranks 151 out of 153 countries on the global gender parity index. Violence against women has been on the rise globally during the COVID-19. Pakistan has seen surge in the domestic violence too, where women have been murdered for trivial matter as serving food late to their brother or husband. These figures reflect how is women treated in Pakistani society.
Although, legislation in the Pakistan relating to violence against women has been positive sign but there are many loopholes in the laws and institutions of the State have not succeeded in curbing the heinous crimes against women. Among the ills that women in Pakistan have been facing like inferior status to man, poor health, illiteracy, sexual violence and harassment and other adversities for ages, sexual objectification is one of the grave miseries women encountered with throughout the history. Since the industrial society emerged and capitalism became hegemonic in production as well in the consumption, this trend became more intense.
Therefore, it would not be wrong to say that sexual objectification of women is worst form of exploitation.
Objectification can be defined as the seeing or treating a person, usually a woman as an object. And feminist theory put objectification of women above all other exploitations of women. In addition, it considered to be primary cause of subjugation of women. It all started in antiquity when woman was considered as property in emerging men dominated society. That condition of women remained so despite many religions and ideologies gradually tried to assert women as equal to men and discouraged degradation of her.
In our society where women are highly objectified as if their bodies are toys. Usually, they are not allowed to go outside of boundaries set by patriarchal society. As their bodily autonomy solely rests in the hands of patriarchy even if they go outside for necessary reasons they are sexually objectified by male dominated society. Unfortunately, life of a woman revolves around her sexual objectification. Even love between man and woman is highly sexualised.
The main purpose of theorisation and explanation of objectification of women is to understand the structure of patriarchal society and point out anti-women tendencies prevalent in it. Let us think for a movement, why beauty is necessary for a woman to live a loved and privileged? And what are those reasons which put a woman in the sense of guilt and denial for her appearance. As in Naomi Wolf in her magnum Opus the beauty myth writes, “the beauty myth is always actually prescribing behaviour and not appearance.” Why a beautiful air hostess, hotel receptionist, hotel waitress is preferred to an ordinary woman who cannot satisfy standards of beauty prescribed by patriarchal society and advertisement and industry. How can anyone deny it’s not objectification of women by seeing a beautiful girl is always brought in front holding a bucket of flowers in her hands to welcome a VIP? Why not that can be done by anyone without looking at one’s appearance and gender?
When we look at societal norms and practices we would come to know that in a male-oriented society, women have never been given status more than a property. In fact, honour killing is an example of their status in society where a man kills a woman just to defend his so called honour. Here, one may ask why man has kept his honour in a woman why she has no right to decide what is right and wrong for her. Why man is obliged to protect her body like he protects other valuables objects like car and other material things?
Since, woman is an honourable property belongs to man so she has no authority to decide about herself. Indeed, from honour killings to sexual abuse, domestic violence and to illiteracy and deprivation of women from basic rights indicate the fact that her objectification is primary element of her woes.
Objectification of women has left very serious ramifications on our minds. It creates a mind-set that has further enslaved women. For, instance women have been constantly told in order to lead a privileged and joyful life, they should do constant efforts to preserve their beauty. Otherwise, they would be sacked from fortunate positions in society. Although, bodily beauty may elevate a woman to privileged position, yet they sometimes feel their body’s burden on them due to societal pressure.
For instance, a survey conducted on women of all age categories found out that 53% of girls in the age 13-15 years hate their bodies and when girls become 17-18 years of age hate ratio goes up to 75 % ,these are very alarming figures. How it is possible for a woman to be happy when she hates her own body due to societal objectification of her body.
Therefore, it’s vital to change this structure of oppression based on women’s objectification if we want to progress and move ahead. For sure, we cannot do well if our half of the nation remained tied to age-old concepts of ownership, oppression and subjugation.