Human Sexuality a Person Largely Differs From Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Human Sexuality

A person largely differs from an object in the greatest sense. Individuals, as thinking beings, are treated thusly into a degree of personage. Once an individual ceases to be treated as a "person," only then does the person become objectified -- that which anything is treated merely as a piece of solid, concrete material to be looked at with indifference. Throughout the course of history, humanity has undergone vast periods wherein objectification is a way of life. Whether this mode applies to sexuality or not does not seem to matter; but it is clear that the current time has pushed this term of "objectification" into the arms of sexual representation. Objectification, however sexual or non-sexual, damages the human psyche, enough so that at an extreme degree of objectification -- for example the treatment of women as sex symbols -- can allow individuals from justifying the reason to stop treating human beings as "persons."

Nussbaum defines objectification as a way in which the "human being is regarded and/or treated as an object." While usually under the context of a "sexual relationship," objectification does not limit itself only there. Wars, politics, even organizations of the past and present have undergone to treat certain branches of society as non-persons. This is evident in the archives of genocide -- Heinrich Himmler's "Final Solution" to the "Jewish problem" and the Rwandan genocide of the "cockroach Tutsis" -- where a massive amount of people have been treated as something less than human. The African slave trade that lasted in America for a good portion of history saw the slaves sold as property, objects that belonged -- and thereby was required to adhere -- to a master who bartered, beat, and sometimes even killed with no sense of guilt. Victorian London saw the rise of prostitutes, destitute and craving for the means to continue living, using their bodies as objects for sale for whoever wanted a quick relief in a back alley; when some of these prostitutes were murdered in Whitechapel by a serial killer later known as the Ripper, a great number of the society was not so much aghast as intrigued, even to the point of excitement at the macabre mystery surrounding the killer's acts. In all these examples, the notion that Nussbaum puts forth about objectification is accurate; human beings have the distinct ability to disregard certain others as human beings, therefore nullifying their status as "persons" and strengthening the idea of these beings as objects.

While war and backroom politics are always extreme matters of the subject (bordering mostly on the psychological sense), it is this last example of sexual activity that remains highly debated in an ethical, moral sense. Feminists, in particular, are rife in argument regarding the matter of objectification within the sexual context. The prospect of prostitution is both condemned and yet continued to be sought out. Gentlemen's clubs, strip bars, host clubs, and whorehouses still exist, and the acts of solicitations have not entirely disappeared. There is a feministic desire to "abolish discriminatory criminal statutes" that harass and penalize female prostitutes, yet at the same time, there is a certain viewpoint in which feminists find the prostitute's choice of career as "morally and politically objectionable" (Shrage). Abolishing the statutes would enable the female prostitutes the same rights as those of their male counterparts -- a right practicable only to human beings. On the other hand, these females lowering themselves to a degree of prostitution, of selling their bodies as objects only degrades them in the eyes of society. Are these females -- who continue the practice of satisfying sexual appetites (be it their own or their clients') -- objects or persons? Does the prospect of sex, then, become the gateway to the method of objectification of human beings?

Shrage mentions the sexual practices of various cultures throughout history and juxtaposes them within the societal context most of the Western…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Garry, Ann. "Sex, Lies, and Pornography." Ethics in Practice. 2nd Ed. H. LaFollette. Blackwell Publishing, 2002.

Nussbaum, Martha C. "Objectification." Philosophy and Public Affairs. Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 249-291. Blackwell Publishing, 1995.

Shrage, Laurie. "Should Feminists Oppose Prostitution?"

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