I dropped by my usual bar and grill of choice today after an intensely boring day at work. As usual, I was warmly greeted as a friend by the servers, most of whom have known me for at least a year or two. I’ve attended some of their birthday parties, met their boyfriends and best friends, and shared many a laugh and hug with them. These are my friends whom I care for, people whose companionship I value. Because my friends happen to be quite gorgeous through some fault of their own, men in the bar often seek their approval and attention in ways that I simply don’t need to (and of which I often disapprove). This evening, after I had finished paying my tab and while I was talking to the bartender, a gray-haired man hobbled up next to me and spoke to one of my friends, suggesting in an almost archetypal creepy old man fashion that he would be happy to give her a back massage anytime. It was fairly clear that he was hoping this back massage would be turning into a frontal massage at some point, and I think that after looking at her, any straight guy would at least understand the instincts that drive his hope.
This isn’t the only incident that has bothered me, and I reported an instance of sexual harassment to the owner of the bar at one point, mentioning that the victim had definitely not enjoyed it or encouraged it and also that I very much would like to smash the perpetrator’s teeth in with my elbow, but that I was going to try to handle it peaceably first.
What bothers me the most about these events is not that it’s personal. While it very much is personal for me because of my relationship with them, what bothers me is precisely that it’s not personal. The folks who smack them on the ass, make crude comments about them after they leave after being nice to them in person, and invite them to go out after their shift for drinks generally have no personal relationship with them. For me, the women bringing me my water and low carb dinners are people who are kind-hearted, generous, loving to their children, loyal to their friends, intelligent, and capable. For those folks, the women bringing them drinks and food are just bodies with a hotness factor, not people and not worth treating as having human dignity.
This sort of juvenile treatment of another human being as something other than a person is the same thing I see when one of the girls at my job talks about how hot the lead actor is on her favorite television show or how much she’d like to bang the star of the latest action movie or romantic comedy. It’s what bothered me when a woman I used to work with told me not long after she was hired that she would like to take me out to dinner and then fuck me. Her words, not mine. And that’s certainly not the only instance of a woman objectifying me. One of my former employees left her notes on her desk after she quit the job, and as I was cleaning out the training area, I found them and got to read about how she thought I had a great body and she just wanted to fuck my brains out. Again, her words, not mine.
My advice to both men and women who want to avoid treating other human beings as mere objects is to make it personal. Become friends with the person before deciding whether or not you want to have sex with them. Take the time to know them as a person and it is thereafter intensely difficult to objectify them in the same way. It has the dual benefit of making you a more moral person and the world a better place to live.