The field of evolutionary psychology is an often maligned one. This makes sense because psychology itself is already rather mistrusted as scientific medicine goes. When you add thousands of years of murky evolution, evolutionary psychology has a hard time working past being conjecture. This is not to say that there aren’t important questions that evolutionary psychologists probe, but that the nature of what they study leaves them with little evidence that can stand up to scientific scrutiny. This is too bad because I think evolutionary psychology is fun.
Because the process of objectifying other human beings evolved in us before we started recording such phenomena it is unlikely that we will ever know when and why the process arose. We cannot ask our great ape cousins either, and even if they could tell us if objectification exists in their societies, that’s no guarantee that our most recent common ancestors objectified. With constraints like this, its easy to see why evolutionary psychology is viewed with skepticism.
This came up because I was talking with a good female friend of mine who felt hurt and objectified by a man who had rejected her. I told her she should just objectify men right back. Reduce strange men to their constituent parts and only perceive them as the parts that you value. This would make the pain go away in my opinion, or at least diminish it.
Why? Well, men are rejected by women at a very very high rate, so we have our methods of dealing with it. I would say that the masculine tradition of objectifying women exists, and I am not saying it is simply this, but as one such mechanism. When a man is rejected by s a woman he has a long standing relationship with it hurts immensely. A person, presumably one you like and respect, has just denied you – you don’t measure up. Now how could men possibly stand to have that happen all the every day, multiple times as night (not all men, but there are guys putting it out on the line all the time) and still have the balls to pop their collars? Well it helps that they usually have no prior connection to the women they are rejected by, but there is more to it than that.
When a guy on the town sees a girl he wants to know betters he’s conditioned to see her as a piece of ass. The breasts or buttocks may very well be the first thing he notices and from then on out, she will probably not amount to much more than the sum of her advertised sexuality. If she turns down our hypothetical party guy, then he will be upset. But by seeing her as just a few sexual traits as opposed to a whole human, he can recover from his setback with greater ease. What does a piece of ass know anyway, ass is just some squishy fat layers over muscle that humans are genetically inclined to appreciate – there’s nothing inherently wise about an ass (my reference here is all of human culture).
So I do not pretend to know how, when or why men came to objectify women. I do know a little something about objectification as it exists today though. So I would posit that one of its functions is to protect the male ego from rejection from females. This is only my unscientific opinion. I guess the way to test this would be to find a group of men who objectify more and a group that objectifies less, and then have them hit on girls and be turned down. If the men who objectify less are more distraught by their rejection, then my hypothesis would be proven!
Someone try that and give me credit!