Objects and Sex

As some of you may or may not have noticed, I previously recommended a post by @EccentricSiren entitled Women As Objects.  It’s good food for thought, and I’ve long been concerned about how incredibly common it is for women to be viewed as sex objects or commodities rather than people.  I’ve also long been concerned about how men are commonly viewed as utility objects or commodities rather than people, but for various reasons most people are disinclined to talk about that subject so much.

I was watching a video on YouTube, and came across a really interesting discussion about the nature of men’s fears and desires in relationships.  In particular, I was struck by Frank’s idea that men and women are trained to accept substitutes for what we really want, which is love.  He suggests that women are trained to accept objects such as flowers, or rings, or cars, or houses as substitutes for genuine love.  Men are trained to accept physical affection as love, which would include hugs, kisses, and especially sex.  As a result, neither men or women are getting the love and respect they need in a meaningful way.  We’re often accepting the substitutes and then when those substitutes aren’t fulfilling, we either convince ourselves that they are fulfilling and ignore our deeper need or leave the relationship behind and try to find another that will meet that deeper need.  We usually don’t.  Most people just seem to keep trying the substitutes as they’ve been trained to do.

Frank’s point here reminded me a bit of a bit of a post I made back in August of 2008 about how we so often accept substitutes for what we need rather than the reality that meets that need.  My hope is that those of us who want to have those deeper needs met in the context of a healthy relationship will be open to having the discussion about those without getting defensive and while being supportive of others.  My hope is that we can move beyond relationships in which the love-substitute of objects and the love-substitute of sex are accepted as substitutes for the fulfillment of our deeper needs, and that we can move into relationships in which the focus is love and respect expressed in the form of acceptance and approval while letting the objects and sex take care of themselves, as Frank puts it near the end.

So do you agree with Frank that we often accept these substitutes for love?  Do you want better relationships?  If so, what can we do about it?

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13 Responses to Objects and Sex

  1. This is what Peggy Lee was singing about, all those years ago, in “Is That All There Is?”  I gave my wife myself, and all the love I could summon.  She returned in kind.  Objects and tokens were part of the mix, but the love behind them sufficed, in and of itself, when we were flat broke and emotionally exhausted.

  2. Nous_Apeiron says:

    @RighteousBruin – That was beautiful and moving.  Thanks for sharing it!    It’s nice to hear success stories sometimes.

  3. AmorVomnia7 says:

    Warren Farrell dominates.Excellent point.

  4. Very interesting. I wonder if people accept substitutes because they see them as signs of love, not because they’re thinking, “well, I’m not going to get love, so flowers will have to do.”About the women making men jump through hoops, I think it’s because we’re told from day one that he has to prove he’s good enough for you and you don’t want to date a scumbag and all that jazz.And there’s so much conflicting information. You’re supposed to be a challenge. You’re supposed to be accepting. You should wait for him to make the first move, because if he likes you, he will. You should make the first move yourself. And if you’re not successful, it must be your fault, even if no one wants to tell you why.And I’m sure men make women jump through hoops, too.

  5. Nous_Apeiron says:

    @EccentricSiren – I wonder that myself.  I see signs of it in my own life.And I think you have a good point about why we have the hoops.  Maybe it’s just our way of filtering out bad mates.  That would make a lot of sense for both sexes.There really are a great many messages sent our way about how we should be to attract a mate.  And as you point out, some of it is contradictory or just doesn’t make sense. Maybe that’s part of why we find it so hard to relate to each other on a deeper level.  We’re so busy trying to be what we’re expected to be that we have little time left to just be honest with ourselves and become the best we can be.@AmorVomnia7 – And the videos are missing, so folks can’t see Warren Farrell dominate anymore.  I hope I didn’t break any rules posting those, but I haven’t gotten any notice about it, so it’s hard to tell.

  6. BlobOfGoo says:

    I think that a major problem in relationships is that people go into a relationship expecting very specific things, and those things are shaped by what is missing in their social life. Women tend to communicate with other women, and so they don’t expect as much communication from men they date. Men tend to get rowdy with other men and get those needs out of the way, so they put less pressure on women to bond with them in that kind of way. I don’t think this is a huge problem on its own, but often times it gets out of hand and people compartmentalize– they have their significant others for sex and affection, because those aren’t things offered in many friendships, and they have typical fun with their friends.The most successful relationships I’ve noticed seem a lot like friendships, and I don’t think it’s coincidence. It’s a shame that people typically shy away from dating friends– I think the whole “friendzone” phenomenon really excludes a lot of potentially amazing relationships… to me, a friendship is a good indication of compatibility, and the importance of that kind of compatibility is neglected in favor of romantic and sexual chemistry instead, and that leads to relationships based on a more fleeting exchange of sex and affection instead of a stable base of communication and fun. So, I really do think that people accept “substitutes” of the sort– you give me what I’m missing and I give you what you’re missing, and nothing more. 

  7. AmorVomnia7 says:

    @BlobOfGoo – I agree. I had to become best friends with my girlfriend before I even thought about getting into a relationship with her.And the relationship is fantastic because of that compatibility.It may sound pretty weird, but to me a relationship should be nothing more than a really good friend you have sex with. Not many people are going to feel that way. They’re going to think that undervalues a relationship… As if it should be something more, or something really special that you can’t reduce down to friendship. But that’s just how I view it, and ultimately it’s what I’ve looked for my whole life.

  8. galadrial says:

    The day I married, I had one wish.Not wealth, or “security”.Not eternal passion, or even love.No.What I wished for was a partner who when I was 80 years old, would walk down the street with me, hand and hand, and not be ashamed or embarrassed to do so. Of course…that would have required a partner that wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed to do so…at 40. I missed that point.

  9. Nous_Apeiron says:

    @galadrial – That doesn’t sound like too much to ask, though I’d say that such a thing would require love.  If you don’t mind my asking, was there a big difference in your expectations and the expectations of your partner about the relationship?

  10. galadrial says:

    Good question.I will say that I never EXPECTED him to change…but I knew even then that life changes you. Not all change is good, however.We were together a decade before we had our daughter (By mutual decision, I would add) In my mind, a decade together meant we were settled, and stable in our relationship. But despite the fact that he insisted on kids ( a deal breaker) he was not ready to be a parent…and worse, resented every moment I spent with our child. (Mind you, I had full responsibility for her care, and worked part time form the time she was 18 months old as well.) I honestly felt conned. I loved our child, but there really was no way to get him to share parenting. Either I did it all, or my child went without what she needed. I thought we were in it together…partners. Instead, I became “staff”…and he became management. That might work in business, but in human relationships, it is far from ideal. He came up with a “solution”. “When you makes as much money as I do, I’ll share the chores with you.” The fact that I was at an extreme disadvantage because I needed to start my career over was regarded as insignificant.  I was also expected to find free child care for our daughter while I did so. I think you’re getting the picture?I wasn’t at home eating cherries and watching Oprah. I was a working mom, a community volunteer, and even sat on our community board for three terms. When my daughter was diagnosed as dyspraxic, I took on the school district for 18 months—to get her the education she needed. But none of that “counted”. What did I expect? Someone to work with me. What did I get? A man I loved, who looked me in the eye and said “Well, whatever it is must be from YOUR side…we don’t have that in MY family. “He’s not bad, or evil…but he is myopic. He sees only what he does…and is never happy with what gets done. He only notices what ISN’T. I hope that gives you an idea.

  11. Nous_Apeiron says:

    @galadrial – That does help me get the picture.  It sounds like a very difficult situation.  I worry that more and more frequently our culture is treating our most important relationships and institutions as either business arrangements or businesses, respectively.  As you said, that doesn’t work in human relationships.The myopia is a great point as well.  It’s increasingly a problem in relationships.  I hear a lot of complaints from husbands about how their wives don’t appreciate how hard they work to make sure they have all their material needs cared for and a lot of complaints from wives about how their husbands don’t appreciate how hard they work to care for the children and the home.  I’m very fortunate that my grandparents set a good example for me of appreciating each other.  They both worked ridiculously hard and loved each other for it.

  12. jaydedheart says:

    I have to say i’m shocked this kind of discussion occurred on the Jenny Jones show, considering what i remember of it while my mom or sister watched it when i was a child.Unfortunately in our culture, at large relationships really are a glorified version of prostitution. It’s sad to say, and people do often get offended at hearing this(not just women), but it doesn’t make it less true. We really need to think over what we truly want out of life, not just what’s been advertised. We’re too accustomed to just looking at the menu and picking something off of it, rather then walking out the door and trying something else.

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