Understanding Objectification (1) -Women, Tetley Tea and a Moral Question for My Readers


Objectification is Pervasive

fea-hunk-05-2013Objectification is defined as treating someone as a thing without regard to their dignity. If we are honest about objectification we would see that there isn’t just sexual objectification but there are many contexts where  some form of objectification has been not only socially acceptable by a necessary tool for the maintenance of a certain social structure.

A clear-cut example is slavery, not just the historical episodes of slavery we are accustomed to hearing about every February but encompassing the slave trade that still goes on to this day. A slave is treated as an object because there was a social narrative that was sold to and bought by people who some how saw slavery as beneficial to the African, applying of course in some twisted way to the victims of the global slave trade now. When you look at the Native American genocide it is clear that the Natives were impediments to the growth and expansion of the  country. The same can be said for our enemies of the month, or victims of police brutality so on and so forth.

My Point

My point in all of this is that ingrained into the fabric of any social system is objectification. I bring this point up because I wanted to know if it was possible to not support any business or policy that objectifies anyone ?

HootersGirls_CakeWhen last I wrote about going to my local neighborhood’s version of Hooters as per the recommendation of my wife, many said that those places objectify women. Many people voiced how they do not support the objectification of women no matter the form it takes. [I actually went and had the chance afterwards to sit with a college professor of Women’s studies afterwards. We talked about it was one of the most enlightening conversations I have ever had but that is for another post.]

My challenge then to my readers and to  anyone really is can we live in a society devoid of objectification of any form, or are we picking and choosing what we should and shouldn’t objectify based on the current social propensities at the time. The bananas we eat, the coffee we drink or tea that’s picked quite often is picked/harvested by poor children or people who work for less than nothing, under horrible conditions.

Example:

You may not know this about me but I really like tea. Every Sat morning my father and I would make tea for ourselves and bring some to my mom in bed. I grew up on Tetley Tea. I was surprised to learn the following:

tea-worker

Taken from here

India’s reputation for producing delicious teas stems mostly from vast plantations in the northeastern state of Assam. Tourists admire the beauty of the region, but life is hard as hell on the plantations. Undernourished workers, including children and the elderly, toil from dawn until dusk for pittances, often spraying industrial pesticides with little protection and enduring unsanitary conditions. They retire at night to overcrowded homes.

It is suffering such as this, which was chronicled a year ago in a complaint filed by three Indian nonprofits, that now has the World Bank investigating a company called APPL, which supplies tea to Tetley and other brands.

So then

given the sovereignty of global corporation, the rampant exploitation of human beings, the prevalence of war, advertising campaigns, magazine covers, music videos, female and male sexual tourism, lingerie models and victoria secret stories, sneakers made in sweatshops overseas etc is it possible to live in a world devoid of objectification?  There is a complex relationship between class, objectification, and ideology I feel but more on that later.

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