5 Signs Your Partner Could Be Objectifying You
Objectification is a concept we often use to discuss the portrayal of women in the media. But since it's impossible not to internalize what the media teaches us, the people you know, including your partner, could be objectifying you. The signs your partner is objectifying you can be hard to spot, especially if you're a woman, since objectification is practically part of the air women in our society breathe. But if you can spot them, they're often red flags for a relationship, so they're worth paying attention to.
Unfortunately, the rape culture we live in teaches people — including women themselves — to objectify women. When we turn on the TV, we usually see women's bodies used to sell products, often through visual comparisons to the products themselves. When girls are in high school, they're taught to cover their skin to avoid "distracting" men and to avoid sex because they'll be defined by their sexual behavior. And in college, it's not uncommon for fraternities to encourage men to view women as conquests, sometimes explicitly encouraging sexual assault with chants like "no means yes, yes means anal."
Even if your partner is well-intentioned, it's impossible for them not to have picked up on these messages, and it's also likely that you've picked up on them yourself, which may lead you to overlook your own objectification. So, here are some signs your partner could be objectifying you — and needs to start treating you more like a human being:
1. They Try To Rush The Physical Relationship
A sexual relationship in which nobody is objectified requires both parties to be equally enthusiastic. If you're not ready for something, your "no" should be taken to mean "no," not "convince me." If someone seems more concerned with what you'll "let" them do than what you actually want, they could be viewing you as a means to an end.
2. They Show You Off Like A Prize
Objectification isn't always sexual. Viewing someone as walking proof of your own worthiness also objectifies them, even if it's based on their mind. If your partner likes to tell their friends or family how beautiful or accomplished you are, that's nice to a certain extent, but if it feels like they keep you around so they can show you off or like they show you off more to boost their ego than to compliment you or simply speak the truth, that's a sign of objectification.
3. They Evaluate Your Relationship Solely Based On What You Offer Them
Your relationship shouldn't feel like an audition for a show your partner stars in. I once had a partner tell me, "You're very comforting to be around, but I'm not sure how much you offer me intellectually" and then proceed to compare me to the moon. Besides just being insulting and inaccurate, he never considered what he offered me; it was all about him. Like a partner who tries to rush a physical relationship, one who views you in terms of what you can offer them views you as a means to an end, whether that end is sexual or intellectual. And as evidenced by the comparison to a celestial body, this attitude objectifies someone.
4. They Tell You Who You Are
If somebody thinks they've got you all figured out, that's a sign that they're actually projecting their own beliefs onto you — especially if the qualities they're attributing to you are based on stereotypes. For example, I once had a partner tell me I was being "feminine" for things that really had nothing to do with my gender. When I forgave him after a fight, that was "feminine" because women's moods are supposedly ever-changing. When I wanted to talk about our relationship, it was because I was "emotional." This objectifies someone by viewing them as an embodiment of a concept rather than as an individual.
5. They Tell You What To Do With Your Body
Your body belongs to you and nobody else. If somebody is telling you what to do with your body hair, what to wear, what to eat, or what to do in the event that you get pregnant, they're denying you autonomy over your body and putting how aesthetically pleasing you are to them over how you yourself feel. And that's pretty much the definition of objectification — viewing someone's external qualities as more important than their internal feelings.