In a recent post, dotty reactionary antifeminist Sunshine Mary offers her thoughts on an idea that has become something of a cliche in the Manosphere, and which she agrees with roughly one thousand percent: that “[r]egardless of what feminism may purport to be about, the result of feminism is that women have been reduced to being nothing but sex objects.”
What on earth is she talking about? She quotes one of her readers, someone called Just Saying, explaining the peculiar logic behind this assertion in a little more detail:
Feminists lost long ago. Men are in control – at least the ones that understand. We get to call the shots – now instead of being able to keep house, have children, and cook (very, very few women can cook these days) women are ONLY sex-objects. It is the only thing they have to offer to a man, that will get a man’s attention and to hold it for a while. And we don’t have to marry them to get it …
Feminism has brought about all of the things they say they hate – women today only bring sex to the equation. So I have to thank Feminism – I doubt that young women would be as skilled, or as open to oral sex, anal sex, and every other type of sex, without it. And for that, I say, “Thank you Feminism.” If there were a patriarchy, I doubt they could have ever come up with something as beneficial to men. No one would have believed women were that dumb.
The Sunshiny One uses this as a starting point for a bizarre post purporting to show that “feminism has also reduced many women to being childless careerists who must purchase other women’s reproductive capabilities.”
But let’s forget about Mary for now and take a somewhat deeper look at this whole “feminism reduces women to sex objects” argument — which only makes sense if, like Just Saying, you define the worth of women as consisting only of 1) sex and 2) “housewifely duties” like cooking, cleaning, and bearing children.
If you simply ignore all of a woman’s other abilities and accomplishments, and basically her humanity, well, I suppose you could say that the worth of a woman with no interest in cooking, cleaning, or children was “reduced” to sex.
But what a strange way to look at the world, to base your judgement of a person’s worth on a small subset of human interests and abilities and to condemn them if they aren’t enthusiastic experts in these pursuits. You might as well go around dismissing everyone who’s not a proficient accordion player.
The other strange thing about Just Saying’s argument is that it doesn’t even make sense on its own terms; it requires a willful blindness as to how the world works these days. Women make up roughly half the workforce today. Yet babies are still being born and raised. Meals are still getting cooked. Homes are still getting cleaned. It may not always be a wife in a traditional marriage doing all the cooking and cleaning and baby-raising, but couples — and single parents — are making the arrangements they need to in order to get all these things done.
So is the “feminism reduces women to nothing more than sex objects” simply an indication that certain kinds of men — and women — have a hard time recognizing women as full human beings?
Well, to some degree. But I’m pretty sure that even the most backwards thinking misogynists of the manosphere recognize that there’s more to women than cooking, cleaning, baby-making, and sex.
No, I think their attempts to reduce women to these things stem from their own defensiveness over the gains of women — and not just in the workforce, and in politics, and the wider culture.
Consider how Just Saying describes the sex-having women of today. They’re no shrinking violets. They’re not passive receptacles. They’re “skilled … open to oral sex, anal sex, and every other type of sex.”
In other words, they’re women with sexual agency. They’re women who are engaging in sex for their own pleasure, for their own reasons — not simply as a lure to capture a man to marry.
And I think this makes a lot of men deeply uneasy — especially the sorts of men who inhabit the manosphere. That’s why so many of them are so quick to shout “slut” at the very same women they’re so obsessed with pursuing.
That’s why, when they’re lucky enough to find a woman who’s enthusiastically in charge of her own sexuality, they have to pretend to themselves that sex is all she has.