Being A Sex Object
You don’t need to be Marilyn Monroe in order to be a sex symbol.
Out they come, practically foaming at the mouth, these self-appointed defenders of the faith. “We’re through with all that!” they shout. “Women no longer are, nor do they wish to be, sex objects!”
Recently, I had a really violent argument with a so-called feminist leader who proclaimed that we should stop hiding behind makeup and perfume. Well. I defend a woman’s right to heighten her look with cosmetics if she chooses to do so. After all, everybody is a sex object to somebody, somewhere, at some time. And if you aren’t someone’s sex object at the moment, then chances are that there is a possibility that you’re probably working on it. The beauty industry, the fashion business, all those exotic spas, health retreats, and exercise places are a multimillion dollar testimonial to the fact that everyone’s trying.
I don’t believe that long blond hair has ever interfered with my career. In fact, I’m sure it’s had the opposite effect. Have you often met a potential adversary, say, a motor vehicle examiner, or the Internal Revenue Agent, or your boss, and felt the confrontation went a bit easier because you were a woman?
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This is not to suggest that you go around with a rose between your teeth. Just that if you really aware of yourself as a woman, then you should be aware that part of yourself is a sex object. It’s simply part of your identity as a thinking, feeling human being. It’s literally there the whole time you go about your business, whether that’s being a really terrific administrator, cultivating a sensational garden, or cooking an extraordinary five-course gourmet meal.
Being a sex object ha a lot to do with flirting and attracting. It requires being aware of the subtle interplay that characterizes almost every encounter between a man and a woman. But it has nothing to do with sexual promiscuity. In fact, to me being a successful sex object often means being happily faithful to just one man. What the more vocal feminists seem to promote is the notion that all sex objects are manifestly passive. That’s simply not so. A clever sex object can be extremely aggressive, but so softly feminine in her approach that she seems unobtrusive.
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There is a notorious sex object I know whom friends have nicknamed “the little brown wren.” She’s almost mousy in appearance and although she has a fabulous figure she always wears terribly unfashionable horn-rimmed glasses and rarely speaks above a whisper. Yet in her time, she’s been the mistress of an oil tycoon, married to the governor of a Southern state, and is currently going steady with an ambassador. “She is the sexiest sex object I’ve ever come across,” one of her ex-lover’s quickly admitted. Why? “Because she listens so well: she literally drinks in a man’s words. She makes him feel like he is the most important person in the world; not to mention the most interesting.”
This brings me to my last case history; a much publicized sex object and a friend of mine, who sold her novel to the movies and is enormously successful. Her husband, a respected chemist, could have turned resentful over all the attention his wife’s been getting. Instead, they’re ecstatic together. And how does it work? Everyone wonders. Well, it works, my writer friend blissfully tells me, because when she and her husband are alone together, she doesn’t talk about her talent or her money or her power. Instead she behaves as if he, rather than she, is the center of their domestic world. Result? He is completely content; and so is she.
“Sure, I’m playing a role, if you want to call it that,” she said, “but I’m doing what come naturally. l’m giving him pleasure, but it gives me pleasure at the same time. Of course he responds. Being a sex object is just another way of saying that I’m glad I’m female, and glad I’m womanly. I enjoy being loved, praised, pampered, and needed. Now why would I want to deny myself that?”