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26 August 2021

Body Objectification: Are we all guilty?

Grigoriy Tumanov

"You know, he's got the whole package, this guy. With those abs and his cute face. And unlike some losers, he can get it up too. Several times, all night. He's something else." - I hear my friend talking on the balcony. She’s discussing her first successful date in the last few months with my wife in full detail. I'm not trying to listen in, but I'm curious whether they know that I can hear them. Would they still be as honest if I was standing next to them? I know that’s how many friendships work, wherein you share everything with your buddy. But I can't help but wonder whether men are the same way. Many guys are so intimidated by recent movements (such as #MeToo) and afraid of being accused of objectification that the most they'd allow is sneaking in a couple of sleazy jokes in a very private conversation. 

I decide to ask another friend of mine, when we head for a walk, exhausted by the heat. "When you are with girls, do you talk about the bodies of the guys you have slept with?" She nods. Not just the body, though, she says, but also the quality of the sex, the stamina, and other details that usually stay undisclosed. I try to imagine how I would feel if I were in the shoes of that guy and what he’s thinking as everyone’s staring at him walking into the room to join his GF and her friends. Weird, right?

If you thought the best compliment for a man is a recognition of his sexual performance –  think again. You can compliment us on reaching The Witcher 3's finale instead. That’s something every man is proud of.

I couldn't stop thinking  how odd modern social attitudes are. Especially as patriarchy fuels them further.  When I was a kid, I remember older boys saying things like "a gentleman doesn't kiss and tell". It was inappropriate to talk to your friends about the girl. But why is this the case? If you think about it, it's clear where this comes from: for a very long time having a woman was equivalent to owning property. And it's simply rude to talk about someone's property. So the origins of this seemingly noble rule are doubtful; it was most likely developed out of a lack of respect for one's partner. Not to mention, if you don’t belong to a generally respected group, they’ll say whatever they want about you. No matter what you did or didn’t do.

Yet it is all connected: Men are accused of public objectification, while women enable objectification in small groups. Both parties seem to have their flaws, but both are easily explained. Great sex (which is so rare on a first date!) is such an amazing experience that it's often too good to keep to yourself. It's easy to understand why some turn to their closest friends for a chat. We're all guilty of sharing some details; the difference is that some people share too much and give vivid descriptions, while others prefer to keep it short and sweet.

Our need to express our emotions is vital, but even more so is the fact those emotions are not solely ours. 

It's okay to tell your pals you had a good time, but describing your partner’s body without their consent would be crossing the line. We find it easier to talk about sex with someone other than our partner at times. It's similar to talking about a good (or bad) game with a stranger rather than the team who played it. But the only right person you can discuss private things with is your partner. Tell them what you liked and how you liked it, talk about what was good and you’ll never run out of topics when you’re making breakfast together.

We all should make an effort to challenge our inner hypocrite. Get into the habit of talking to your partner in a safe environment, making sex more diverse, and developing an emotional connection. Some may say that not talking about your partner's sexual abilities with friends is too restrictive and over the top, but I believe it's simply about respect for each other’s bodies and our sense of security. Even if your partner is unaware that you are talking about them, they trust your judgment. As I would hope you do too. So, if they didn’t give you the green light to be talked about, let’s not assume silence means consent. Especially in sex, where articulate consent means so much and is very nuanced! After all, there's no such thing as too much respect, right?

*Original article was written in Russian

(Photo: 1,2,3 - Dmitry Maximov)


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