I have heard so many times over the last decade working on preventing violence against women those who would say there is no harm in something that can be defined as sexual objectification, or at the very least there is no harm meant.
Those who say there is no harm meant, or there is no harm, have simply not thought it through.
And perhaps that is our biggest challenge in confronting attitudes to violence against women; disbelief that it happens, or ignorance as to its occurrence and prevalence.
From this perspective, the role of those of us working in this field is to help spread more widely the messages that violence against women comes in many forms, all of it is preventable, and all of it demands significant and broad-based buy-in from men. If the 60% of men in Australia who give something to their loved ones for Valentines could only ALSO be active in discouraging violence against women, we would have more than a sea-change!
A very large part of our getting the prevention message out there is to help distill the findings from academic work, to help demystify some of the feminist discourse, and simplify the messages for those who cannot access, or understand, the content of the academic world’s thinking on the matter.
Caroline Heldman is my hero for this. She simplifies and demystifies. She explains, clearly and pedagogically, the issues.
And here is her very important commentary on the many ways in which sexual objectification of women is far from harmless.
And intended or not, is devastating to women.