Objects of desire

25 Sep

Fragile box

I have been slightly disturbed by a recent thread on a mums’ online group. The discussion was about the attractiveness of a local delivery man – his doorstep appeal. Sizzling, apparently. The type of fella you’d want to be answering the door to in your nightdress. Maybe letting your dressing gown slip open as you drowsily open the door at 7am. Desperate housewives having a bit of a giggle. All good, clean fun, right?

But turn the tables and is it so funny? Imagine a thread on a dads’ forum talking about a delivery woman: “Should’ve answered the door in my pants!” “Wouldn’t mind posting something in her box!” Suddenly it sounds less harmless and much seedier. Why is it okay for women to do to men what they don’t like done unto themselves? Is one of the benefits of being the ‘weaker’ sex that we can harangue men in a non-threatening and therefore acceptable way? Look at the ad with the Diet Coke man cutting the grass – tossing him the shaken can to open is equivalent to making a woman climb a ladder to look up her skirt. I’d like to see whether an advert like that would avoid complaints.

I’m not aiming criticism at the people who commented on the thread – I certainly want to be able to go into town without wearing a flak jacket – but it made me think about the double standards that operate in a society that is (hopefully) striving for equality. Perhaps turning the tables on men is a form of empowerment – an attempt to redress the balance of power by taking men on at their own game. After all, gender equality is about creating a level playing field. Do we therefore say, yes, it’s fine for women to talk about men based on their appearance and sex appeal alone. If we do, then at the same time we should be reaching for the topshelf in the newsagents and ripping the protective wrapping off the men’s magazines – right? It’s only fair after all. Either we agree that it’s acceptable to treat women and men like this, or we agree that no one should be reduced to the status of a mere sexual object.

That’s an awful lot of questions. I don’t have the answers and, yes, maybe I should take a hike and go and burn my bra someplace else. I am sure the delivery man – high up on his pedestal – is in no danger of being chased down and ravished by a pack of mums so to that extent it is harmless. But I wonder how he would feel if he read what was being said about him. Perhaps he’d be delighted and his testosterone levels would surge. But perhaps – and there’s a good chance – he would feel uncomfortable and more than a little embarrassed by the attention he’s received.

4 Responses to “Objects of desire”

  1. simonsometimessays September 25, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

    Every rational brain cell is calling me to agree, and moreover to agree that behaviour which regards people as objects of sexual desire is degrading and debasing to men and women alike, however playful and hypothetical.
    On the other hand, there are a few less rational brain cells that whisper in my ear “the chance would be a fine thing”.

    • Crumbs & Pegs September 25, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

      You missed off: *cue Sid James laughter*. I think most people would agree with you on that!

  2. (Mostly) Yummy Mummy October 1, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    I completely agree with you and sexual objectification – either way – is never okay. Things like this actually make me feel really uncomfortable but then of course you’re dismissed as being a misery guts as it’s ‘only a laugh’ but actually like you say, the other way around I’m not sure that we’d be laughing so that is not equality to me. I never understand why mimicking the very worst and downright sexist traits of some men, is seen to be empowering. It just makes us as bad as them. Sorry! I’ll step off my soap box now!

    • Crumbs & Pegs October 8, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

      Thanks for commenting. You’re spot on. (Think your soap box must be as well used as mine! :D)

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