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// At Whitman College

Sexual Objectification, Existentialism And Grindr?

What Grindr taught me about objectification and entitlement in American society.

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This story begins with, what else, Grindr. For the uninitiated it's basically Tinder for men who are attracted to other men. But the biggest difference is that, to quote Ben Kenobi from "Star Wars", Grindr is a "hive of scum and villainy." I don't mind the people who just want to have a good time because responsible sex or dating, in general, is perfectly fine, but it's those people that ruin it that really get me riled up. It's those kids who talk constantly during the movie, the people at Starbucks who feel the need to order something that takes 20 minutes to make, that vocal minority that destroys the experience for the rest of us. Those people on Grindr are the men who feel entitled to have sex with you. For the longest time I didn't know why an unsolicited nude pic enraged me or a guy randomly sending me his address made me uncomfortable. I realized the problem was they didn't bother to find out what I wanted and what my needs were. They wanted sex and they didn't stop to think that I didn't. To them, I was nothing more than an object for their pleasure because they felt entitled to my body.

A quintessential example would be one man who messaged me simply saying, "I want you ur cute." Putting aside the lack of proper grammar, I couldn't figure out why the statement bothered me. After all he was complimenting me, so I should be grateful right? I discovered that it was because he, in a sense, denied me my right to choose. You may be saying, "It was just a benign message," but language is performative. Our words often display, and reinforce, our internal ideologies. Saying, "I'm sorry," is different than saying, "It was an accident." Both have similar meanings, but one accepts personal responsibility and the other defers it. He didn't ask if I wanted him. He could've asked, "Hey I think you're cute, want to hook up?" However, all that mattered was that he wanted me. He then, obliviously, proceeded to send me pictures of his penis. I didn't want to see his penis, but he didn't give me much choice in the matter. According to existential philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, it is considered "bad faith" and the greatest evil to deny someone the inherit right of choice. Ain't nobody gonna deny me of my right to freedom and question my Jean Paul, so naturally, I proceeded to tell him how inappropriate it was for him to send me pictures without my consent and he can't just "want" me like some toy. He then called me an as*****. I thought it was somehow me being irrational and too sensitive, but in reality, he needed to reassert his dominance because I toppled his self-important sense of control.

I hope this sounds fairly similar to how some straight men treat women. To feel entitled to woman's body and attention, to treat them as less than human, and to then blame the woman for his actions because she "dressed too provocatively" or because she "was asking for it." This is the kind of thinking that perpetuates rape culture and victim blaming. I just get called some mildly offensive names through a phone, but for a lot of people, most often women, it becomes a serious problem of sexual violence or harassment. These people feel awful because our society has taught them to hold themselves responsible, that they deserve it. The more we understand that sex and intimacy is a privilege, not a right, the more of a chance we stand against the cycle of sexual violence and harassment.

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