I went to a single-sex school with all of our teachers being female. I studied a predominantly male course, but all my peers were very respectful towards me. I was never treated like an object. I started work, and the same applied. Perhaps I had very strong boundaries that helped. I would not have tolerated anything less. I dressed modestly, and perhaps my conservativism showed.
Until I reached my mid-thirties, and my babies were born. Something changed. I had a monster of all crushes on someone close by, and knew my conservative attire would not turn any heads. And especially not his. I wanted attention! So I did what I could do. Aka Sandy in Grease. I changed my style. I started wearing more low cut tops. More tight-fitting jeans. And I started to see a reaction. I started getting attention. It was an attention I had never really experienced before. And it felt good. It fed my flesh. I wanted more. The outward appearance started to count. And with it the objectification. I received the attention I wanted. A paradigm-shift happened. Men would wink as they passed by. I started accepting compliments based on my outward appearance. I started lowering my standards. Accepting bad behavior.
All these things came up for me when I heard Michelle Obama, and her watershed speech this past week. I am not an object. My daughter is not an object. Women are not objects. I don’t have a vote in the US elections. But I do have a vote in my own life. I can vote when I hear how perfect my ‘ass’ is in that red dress. When I am objectified. I don’t have to smile and say thank you. I can call it out for what it is. And I can say No.