‘It does not cause me any amount of grief to be objectified’

The following quote from actress Mary Louise Parker in Vanity Fair is interesting:

I’m just happy that anybody considers me a sex symbol at all. It does not cause me any amount of grief to be objectified in any way. I welcome it.

There’s something peculiar to me about welcoming objectification — inviting people to view you only as a sex object, wanting people to see you simply as existing for their sexual gratification, without an identity of your own. I’m curious if the intent of her statement was that it doesn’t cause her any grief that people think she is sexy, or that people look at her as a sex object.

The difference between welcoming that people find you sexy and welcoming that people objectify you is that the former offers room for an identity beyond being sexy (e.g. you’re also a talented actress), and the latter allows for someone to be a commodity that only serves to gratify someone else. The line between the two is thin, but I think it exists.

Also, Parker is 46 years old, which makes me wonder if her invitation of objectification is because she feels like her age inherently makes her unsexy, so she is willing to take any attention she can (that’s the tone I get from “I’m just happy that anybody considers me a sex symbol”).

Either way, Parker’s statement speaks to and follows a pattern that is unsettling, which is to welcome any type of attention regardless of its motivation or intention, and to want to be viewed as an object rather than a person. It makes me uneasy when women give higher value to whether people view them as sex objects as opposed to whether people consider them humans with identities, thoughts, feelings, talents, etc.


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