Men Are Conditioned to Objectify Women & Women Believe the Lie

I’ve shared my testimony on here before about my previous addiction to pornography and how I was able to break free from it.  I can gladly say I am at the best spot right now I have ever been in with this issue.  The frustrating part is that viewing pornography is like getting a bad tattoo–even when you’ve moved on, its ugly aftermath remains.

Pornography (and our hyper-sexualized culture in general) conditions men to objectify women.  Hold up a piece of paper in one hand a piece of glass used to cover a computer or television in the other…are we meant to have sex with either one of these?  Of course not.  Yet for most of us men (especially those raised in the Internet age), these have been our training grounds since we were in middle school.  It’s no wonder we look at women like they are objects for our consumption.  

“Woman = body parts.”  Not: woman = human.  Any funeral viewing ought to have taught us the truth of our error here.  A body really isn’t very impressive in and of itself.

The most frustrating part of all this is that it’s been years since I’ve looked at pornography, and yet my everyday interaction with women is still skewed by this upbringing.  Yours likely is too.  I did a Bible study on this subject recently with a group of college guys.  One of them asked me, “Ok I understand we shouldn’t turn women into objects–that it dehumanizes them–but how do I actually do this when I see an attractive girl walking by on campus–especially one of the many wearing tight clothes and flaunting herself for all to see!”

The truth is, men give more value to an attractive woman.  We crack more jokes around them.  We smile more.  We become flirtatious.  Our hearts flutter a bit.  I see it all the time, and sadly, I see it in myself when I’m not highly on guard.  All of this is rooted in how we’ve been conditioned to turn women into objects.  The way to recondition ourselves is multiple-fold:

  • First and foremost, there needs to be absolutely zero exposure to more pornography and more lustful images.  How will a fire ever go out if wood and gas are continually applied?  Read my post on this: Reasons to Stop Looking at Porn…and How to Do It
  • Be reminded that when you base someone’s value on their body and disregard everything else, you’ve taken away what makes them human.  You have dehumanized them.  You have turned them from a human into an object.  The more you allow yourself to do this, the more it will take control of the way your brain sees other people.
  • Even if a woman wants you to objectify her, don’t cave to her demand.  Do not reinforce the lie she is projecting about herself.  If you saw someone who thought their existence in life was to be beaten on by others, would you join in when they asked, or would you model to them what they’re living is a lie and that they are worth so much more than that?
  • Be reminded that every attractive woman you see is just like your wife, your sister, your mom, your mother-in-law, and your daughter.  They are all people with insecurities, quirks, weaknesses, flaws, personalities, and in general who live life!  Attractive woman do not appear out of nothingness for you to gawk at, then float back to the land of attractiveness.  They aren’t simply pixels on a glass screen or ink on some paper.  If you think one is amazing, she’s not.  Not like you are thinking of it.  She has needs.  Needs for intimacy, trust, wholeness, a clean house, a mortgage paid, and lifelong commitment–and if you aren’t her husband, you are not the one to offer her these things.
    • (For single guys, I’m not saying to see attractive women like they are your sister–you’d never want to marry your sister!  I’m saying don’t base their value solely on their physical attractiveness.  This is dehumanizing and sinful.  It’s also foolish because you’ll be very sorry later when you realize you’ve based your relationship on all the wrong things.  You’ll also be perpetuating the cycle and will continue seeing other women this way long after the sheen has worn off your wife.)
  • Be reminded that this isn’t how God sees people.  He sees everyone with the same level of value, in His image, not elevating or lowering someone’s value based on their physical appearance.

Men, you were not designed to have sex with pieces of paper, sheets of glass, or any other object.  Sex is not a shot of sugar, it’s a part of the full recipe of marriage that includes trust, commitment, and intimacy.

Women are humans, treat them as such.

Women, you are humans, soak in this truth!  Be secure in this truth! (And present yourself in this truth…) Billions of dollars are made every day on selling products and services to women they think they need to be valuable.  If a woman can turn herself into a doll, more men will find her attractive, and she’ll feel more valuable.  She and they will completely disregard what actually makes her human.  Casting these things aside, she throws on her costume and mask so that someone, anyone, might approve of her.

Be reminded you are already approved by God.  Be reminded that your value comes from being made in His image.  That your value runs way deeper than your skin.  And that in Jesus, you are made whole and given such incredible worth as a daughter of God that no thumbs-up from a man or from a fashion magazine could even begin to compare to the weight and beauty of God’s authority on who you are.

You don’t need to lose weight.

You don’t need to be prettier.

Men are wrong.

The media is wrong.

The sex industry is wrong.

God is right!

Soak in his love, grace, and mercy.

Psalm 139:13-18 For you (God) created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.


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4 responses to Men Are Conditioned to Objectify Women & Women Believe the Lie

  1. Hopefull this will go under Men are Conditioned to Objectify Women and…

    Noah-thank you for speaking up on this particular topic. Some additional points to consider

    (1) the language we use (guess this comes from being married over 25 years to an English teacher), words such as flaunt, deserved, put out, etc. suggest that the person saying them is angry that they didn’t get something they wanted-it is excusing our own behavior. We all have a choice in how we react and what we do. For example the young man mentioned in your post wondered what do you do when a woman flaunts herself by wearing tight clothing. Is she really flaunting herself or is the person giving himself permission to stare based upon what he “thinks” she is trying to do. (After a loose flowing dress can lead to the same thing especially if it is windy.) While the example the young man gave might be intentionally flaunting herself, she maynot – he has the choice and decision how he is going to react. After all, he could choose to turn his head away. there is this wonderful piece written by a man This gives some wonderful suggestions on what to do.

    (2) Gentlemen, the world you experience is vastly different that the world a woman experiences. Before I walk out the door in the morning, I must pay attention to what I put on-not becaue I’m vain or by into the objectification but because I have to function in a world “of objectification.” Let me explain. When I come into contact with men (not all mind you, but a lot) I am instantly judged on my breedability, much gentler word than *uckability. If I receive a passing grade, I’m noticed and deamed worthy of some sort of dialogue. If I don’t pass muster, I’m ignored and don’t have anything worthwhile to say. Professionaly, I have to walk this tight rope-I have to be sexy enough to be noticed and listened to, but careful not to overdo because then I’m a distraction. Not only do I have to pay attention to how I dress, I have to be extremely mindful (more than a male would) of my actions so that I don’t give off messages. In other words, I have to be mindful of my actions and how I say things to protect myself from men. (It does get awfully tiring of having a man’s – not all -behavior and thoughts being my responsibility.)

    (3) Treat women (actually everyone) as human beings. A body is nothing more than a shell, clothes are nothing more than decoration. You can derive something about a person by the decorations they choose, but it isn’t who or what they are about. The shell is nothing more than breeding (wrapping paper) with some environmental factors thrown in. Find out about the gift that is wrapped in the paper. I used to be afraid to talk to old people, well because they were old and reminded my of my mortality and I thought they were a bit used up so to speak. I found that when I just listened and looked beyond the shell that now housed them, some had such wonderous life stories. We all have life stories-women have life stories and being a woman, they have insights that you don’t have because you see the world through a different set of eyes. (Yes, men have life stories too that are vastly different than a woman’s.)

    • Hi Jo, thanks for your insightful comments–they did land in under the right post! I think your perspective is very helpful. I’m not trying to say it isn’t a man’s fault, nor that it isn’t the college guy’s fault I mentioned, but it’s important for women to understand that a guy with a pure heart that is really trying to do the right think can ” choose to turn his head away”, but still be very frustrated this his mind/flesh/body wants to keep gawking and/or maybe he isn’t strong enough to turn his head away, but knows he is supposed to, but the magnetic pull of how he’s been conditioned is more than he can stand up against, though he’s trying to grow in this area. We are still individually accountable, though I do think it’s important to note how we’ve been raised to have this objectification mindset. Not to use that as an excuse, but as an act of awareness. For those of us who want to be pure, let’s stop pretending it’s easy or automatic to do so. In fact, we need to be honest that it’s the opposite: it’s easy and automatic to objectify, so let’s talk more about being pure and about relearning how to process how we view people.

      And I like your analogy of the body being a shell, like wrapping paper around a gift. I like it because it applies very well to this sexual objectification we are talking about, but also goes beyond that to age, race, and all types of broad stereotypes and discrimination. Very helpful!

  2. There is a lot to comment on here. First, Jo, thank you for your insight. I have heard other people say similar things and you are right that we men don’t know what your world is like.

    Noah, you said, “If a woman can turn herself into a doll, more men will find her attractive, and she’ll feel more valuable. She and they will completely disregard what actually makes her human.” I have been chewing on this and Jo’s statement about how she is constantly “judged on my breedability”.

    The thing is that Beauty was meant as a blessing: something to be enjoyed in context. Our world, however, is fallen. After the Fall, our species was reduced to a squabble of animals, each vying to perpetuate their genes. We are programmed to sexually evaluate everyone we see. Our brains are hard-wired to do this all the time. This is why men tend to only notice the physically attractive girls in the room. This is why women tend to be attracted to men who are caring and consider and well established. Everyone is seeking to give their offspring the best chance to survive.

    The world says this is how we are so there is nothing wrong in acting like animals. God essentially says that this is how we are now, but it is not how we are meant to be. We can choose to behave differently. We miss out on so many wonderful and enriching relationships by not taking an interest in people we don’t find terribly “breedable”.

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