Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Love in the Third Degree.
In the past, I always prided myself on not objectifying people, men in particular. That’s changing. In the past, I always looked at the person, but now I’m learning a new facet.
Objectification is not something I’m unfamiliar with. I distinctly remember discovering it from the objectified end of things when I was a pre-teen, beginning when my middle school principal spent day after day of lectures to my class about how inferior girls were to boys, in every way. He did everything he could think of to humiliate the girls in my class in any legal way he could (and some questionably legal ways, too) and was always thinking up reasons that the girls in my class needed to be spanked, and that meant a close inspection to ensure these 13-year-olds weren’t softening the blows with toilet paper or maxi-pads stuffed in their jeans.
He would fix academic competitions, throwing out answers the girls gave and allowing shrugs from the boys, and rewarding the winning boys with an extra 10 points on their class grade. He reminded us constantly that boys were superior and he wouldn’t let it be thought otherwise if one or two of the girls—me and one other—defied him by proving him wrong. Since I’d been born female, he said, I was nothing. That didn’t set well. There wasn’t a boy in my class who could out-anything me. In time, they became stronger and faster physically, but I still outranked them in every non-physical department.
But for a couple of years, my principal entertained himself with degrading every female on the campus, including those underage. Looking back on this and many other things I saw during his tenure, I realize that he was a dom, and not in any loving sort of way.
Within the year, my Sunday School teacher was busy telling my co-ed class that the girls were created only for the pleasure of the boys. It was God’s law, he told the girls in my class. Looking back, I realize what I already knew then—he was an idiot. Based on my last conversation with him a few months ago, he still is.
By the time I was in high school, I was a card-carrying member of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and very much a budding feminist. I frequently, throughout my young womanhood, saw women treated as objects and came to despise it. I saw friends enjoy being taunted and humiliated sexually, begging to be used and discarded, and I just couldn’t understand it. After all, I didn’t enjoy it myself, so how could anyone else?
But things do change. I still don’t enjoy humiliation and refuse to take part joyfully in being humiliated or objectified. Just doesn’t work for me.
However, this idea of treating a man as an object, as simply physical instead of a whole tapestry of layers, well, this is quite different. Such a simplification process. This idea of someone else being present in my life strictly for my enjoyment, whatever that might be?
I am finally able to separate myself from my previous viewpoint of humiliation and objectification being the same thing and understand what some men—and some women, too—might find appealing about living in that sexual-psychological in-between place. I’m finally coming to understand the power rush my middle school principal enjoyed, too, and wishing I could go up against that bastard now.