Confession #19: Yoga Pants and Objectifying Women

qrTJbVBsjHLYxtm-556x313-noPadIt’s been over 2 years since I did one of these confession posts (here’s the last one). They’re not easy to write, as many of them don’t reflect on me well at all, but what good is a personal blog if you can’t get personal?

Here’s the deal: I think I’ve been objectifying women for quite some time without realizing it, and I’m taking some steps to be a better man.

For most of my adult life, I’m pretty sure I’ve understood what objectifying women is, and I’ve known it is a bad thing. When you objectify a woman (or a man, for that matter–I’m writing this from the perspective of myself, a single, heterosexual male), you stop looking at her as a person and instead look at her as an object, usually a sex object.

The confusing part–for me, at least–is that there’s a big difference between finding someone attractive and objectifying them. Here’s what I understand that difference to be if I see a pretty woman, say, at the grocery store:

Attraction: Wow, she’s really hot.

Objectification: Wow, she’s really hot, and that’s all she is. She wants me and the other men around her to view her in a sexual context.

Attraction is fine. Objectification is not. Not only is it degrading to women, but it’s a really unhealthy way to encapsulate a human being, and it can even lead to some very inappropriate (and even dangerous) behavior.

Obviously this is something I’m aware of and sensitive to. That’s why I was caught off guard recently when I realized that something I was choosing to do was slowly inching me towards the “objectification” end of the spectrum.

For several years now, I’ve subscribed to the RSS feed of a website called Girls in Yoga Pants (it should be “Women in Yoga Pants”–the women pictured on this site are of appropriate ages). It’s not a pornographic site. Basically, the site features photos of women–mostly selfies–wearing tight yoga pants. The photos accentuate their legs, butt, figure, etc.

Now, I should step back here for a second and say that just like in real life, there’s a difference between attraction and objectification when it comes to the way we surf the internet. There isn’t a person out there who hasn’t seen a photo of an attractive person–a celebrity, a Facebook friend, etc–and though, “Hey, they’re hot.” That’s fine. That’s a normal reaction to seeing a photo of an attractive person.

I think I convinced myself that attraction was what I was getting out of Girls in Yoga Pants. But recently I realized that something else was happening as a result of me getting those photos in my RSS feed.

I realized that in real life, I was objectifying any and every woman I saw wearing yoga pants. It wasn’t a conscious decision–it was something I simply did without thinking every time I saw a woman in yoga pants. Somewhere inside of me I had started to look at those women the same way I look at the women on the website–as sexual objects who wore yoga pants because they wanted guys like me to admire their figure.

Yeah, it was bad.

I’m not blaming Girls in Yoga Pants (the site or the women who post photos to the site). I blame myself for getting their posts in my RSS reader every day. I blame myself for admiring those photos. And I blame myself for transferring my thoughts about the women in those photos to women in real life.

So a few weeks ago when I realized this, I deleted Girls in Yoga Pants from my RSS reader. It was the healthiest thing I’ve done in a long time.

I feel like I owe the women of the world an apology. I’m sorry, I really am. You deserve better than that. I hope this confession shows I’m serious about improving as a man and a human being by stopping this kind of behavior.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. There are probably other subtle ways I objectify women without even realizing it, so if other men have had similar epiphanies, I’m open to your insights.