Okay, so picture this: It’s the end of a sitcom episode. It’s the moment where the two protagonists finally confess their love for each other.
Or it’s the part where two side characters surprisingly announce their relationship and affection for each other. And everyone seems surprised but accepting. And then there’s that one, weirdly specific comment where the gross character seems…a little too interested.
No? Okay, maybe have you ever noticed when the conversation of lesbians come up, there’s always that one person, who says something like this?
It’s not a rock, damnit, they’re people
Objectification, in its’ simplest form, is taking a person and looking at them, well as if they were not alive. No, not dead—but like they’re a chair or something. Except usually, people are objectified for a reason, i.e viewing pleasure. Not making sense? Ok. The longer explanation is objectification theory.
This is when, for example, a woman gets sexually objectified. Her value, in a sense, is conflated with her physical appearance. In a study done by Dawn M. Szymanski, Lauren B. Moffitt, and Erika R. Carr, they stated that “sexual objectification occurs when a woman’s body or body parts are singled out and separated from her as a person and she is viewed primarily as a physical object of male sexual desire.”
Unfortunately, this can affect women in a variety of ways, including taking a toll on their mental health and eating habits, just to list a few. However, it doesn’t only affect women internally; this has major consequences for their lives socially, too. It essentially takes someone at face value (literally) and removes the depth of their lives to a shallow kiddy pool.
Sexual objectification takes lesbian relationships and fetishizes them by delivering them to audiences as a sort of flat entertainment. And deliver, they do. I mean, sex sells. Consider how Katy Perry’s song, “I Kissed A Girl” was not seen as an exploration in sexuality, but as something that was scandalous. Akin to porn.
Getting back on track
But this still fails to explain exactly why queer relationships are so sexualized, especially those involving femme lesbians.
One argument is this: you always want what you can’t have. Many men and others take it to be a sort of challenge when they see lesbians together. The argument of “she just hasn’t met ME yet” is prolific, as it refuses to die out.
Another argument, according to a study done by Kristin Puhl titled, “The eroticization of lesbianism by heterosexual men” in 2010, suggests that it may just be because well, they’re women. It states,
“If women who self-identify as lesbians are still likely to have heterosexual sex during their lives, then it is reasonable for men to experience sexual arousal at the sight of women in a sexual context, regardless of the gender of the partner.”
It further builds that it could be perhaps a result of there being multiple women at once.
In the Grand Scheme of Things…
Or perhaps it’s because it’s not the relationships that are sexualized at all, but the acts done together. It’s not the marker of being gay that makes it sexual but the idea of women’s bodily involvement.
The study I mentioned previously says that maybe because it is done in a particular setting, the person in question isn’t thinking about homosexuality; they’re thinking about sex and women. This idea is totally dependent upon the person, too. The study also showed that men who were not as sexually open/explorative were not as likely to be turned on by lesbians.
Ultimately, it seems as though this occurs when there is a lack of understanding for the person, which in this case, would be the lesbian couple.
While there is no one exact reason to nail this down, there is a whole slew of them, and all of them involve some aspect of dehumanizing people as if they are content to chow down on, rather than actual human beings, with actual lives.