Objectifying a Woman ( or a Man ) : What it is and what it is not

On phone call today, with a good male friend of mine, I realized he had been worried that while enjoying the beauty and attractiveness of a woman while she dances in a provocative way, he felt worried that he was objectifying her. In the era of #metoo, I can understand that anxiety. The fact that I realized he struggled with this issue moved me to help him understand it and me to explore it with him. First, I know my friend to be a very conscientious person who goes out of his way to be caring and respectful towards everyone. And, at the same time, he is an attractive single man who is dating and sexually active — so his anxiety is understandable.

I shared with my friend that I think objectification of either gender happens inside a cultural container. The more discrimination and marginalization — tolerated by a culture — the more likely it is that objectification will occur. While I am trying not to be gender-specific here ( because both genders experience objectification ), there can be no white-washing the sad fact that it has been primarily women, across the millennia, who have been marginalized and discriminated against, and therefore even today, it is women who are experiencing the most objectification.

Objectification literally means to make a person — an object. I explained to my friend that the difference between objects and people is that objects don’t have feelings. And, objects don’t usually have rights. So, objectifying a person means that, conveniently, you ignore those facts. Humans who have neither feelings or rights are, of course, much easier to deal with. They are like slaves who have no rights and whose feelings don’t matter.

However, viewing an object of beauty ( for instance watching a beautiful woman dancing ) and feeling moved, inspired, attracted and even aroused, is nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about. In fact, celebrating is beauty and our attraction to it — is normal. What is not normal is experiencing human beauty and our attraction to it in a fragmented, compartmentalized way. Humans are multi-faceted and we must be experienced in a holistic way. Each of us are unique individuals. We need to be seen and experienced for how we look, as well as, who we are ( our thoughts, opinions, beliefs, feelings, talents, background and cultural heritage ). When a human is not experienced in a holistic way — that is objectification. However, when we acknowledge that each person is a unique individual and when we take the time to experience each other in a deep and considerate way — that is respectful and honoring — which is the opposite of objectification.

Can adults be physically affectionate without it becoming sexual? Our culture and Craigslist say NO.

In the last few days, the United States Congress passed laws making it a criminal offense for a website to promote prostitution and sex-trafficking. And, while opinions differ on the subject of prostitution, NO ONE is supportive of the horrific victimization that occurs with sex-trafficking.

But, with the passage of this legislation, known as FOSTA and SESTA, one thing that is becoming crystal clear is — our culture does not believe that human beings can engage in consensual physical affection without the physical affection becoming sexual. And, when you think about this sad fact, you realize how much control our society deems is necessary to exert over something as simple as a snuggle between two consenting adults.

Take for example, Craigslist, who recently refused my advertisement in the “Small Business Services” ads section. The title of my ad read: “Snuggle Salon — Snuggle Services ( Strictly NON-SEXUAL )”. And, in big block letters at the top of the ad “********************* THIS SERVICE IS STRICTLY NON-SEXUAL *********************”. Craigslist responded with: “This posting has been removed. Please do not use Craigslist for this sort of posting.”

While, within the current legislative environment, it is somewhat understandable that Craigslist doesn’t want to take a risk — what is telling about Craigslist’s risk aversion is that Craigslist, and probably most Americans, cannot conceive of the following possibilities:
1. that adults who engage in consensual physical affection can choose not to become sexual
2. that only physical affection that includes sex could be gratifying enough for monetary exchange.

These cultural beliefs are shockingly self-limiting, self-defeating, dehumanizing, and demoralizing. As a culture, I would argue, that unfortunately — this is where our beliefs stand. And, it is why Mark Greene, senior editor of the Good Men Project, believes the lack of gentle platonic touch in men’s lives is a killer and that men are suffering from something he calls “touch isolation”. See Mr. Greene’s article here.

Snuggle Salon’s mission is to change these beliefs. These beliefs have no place in a modern society. We need to confront these beliefs and prove to ourselves and our culture that we are adults and we can exhibit self-control. We can control ourselves both physically and emotionally. We are not children and we don’t have to play victims. We need to model this for our children. We can have healthy boundaries and thereby we can have more freedom to express ourselves as physically affectionate adults who have more operational modes than simply sexual / not sexual. We also need to accept that physical affection for human beings is natural and necessary and adults need it just as much as babies do.

Snuggle Salon Mission Statement

Snuggle Salon’s mission is to inspire authentic connection and communication with our clients. We create a nurturing, intimate space — a loving, non-judgemental space. We offer this as a practice space for asking for what you want. Learning to negotiate for a win-win is encouraged.

Based on a pre-agreed set of rules — the space we create allows for consensual physical affection and deep emotional connection. We hope to play a part in the solution of the cultural issues we face today between men and women, the cultural isolation that occurs between men and women and our unfortunate culturally imposed standards.

We hope you will join us for a snuggle session soon!

Benefits of Snuggling

Snuggling as Self-Care

We understand the importance of self-care, things like going to the dentist, exercise, getting a massage or time with friends, etc. We can’t give ourselves a massage….so we can feel OK about going to a massage therapist. However, we are all supposed to be able to magically produce a snuggle partner for ourselves even if we are not currently in a romantic relationship.

Our culture, and social norms, impose on us the heavy burden of being completely self-sufficient — even when it is clear that — just as we can’t do our own dentistry, we can’t give ourselves the closeness, affection, attention and embrace of another human being. Self-care is very important in our lives and something that contributes greatly to our health, improves our relationships with others and our over-all well being.

While people are having judgements or fear about hiring a professional snuggler….

Other people are getting cuddled!! Deeply. Lovingly. Affectionately. The love, in the moment, is real. Which is why I say that I don’t pay the Snuggle Partners for cuddling. I pay them for being the amazing people that they are! They have high self-esteem, but are not aloof or vain. The are naturally warm, affectionate, kind and giving. It isn’t so much what they do — but who they are.

I hope you will give yourself the gift of meeting and snuggling with a Snuggle Partner.

Tell me about the Snuggle Partners?

Oh! My!! There is lots to say on this subject. Snuggle Partners are a different breed. By nature, they are open, warm and affectionate — of course they love to cuddle. They are social, friendly and generally, outgoing. Snuggling and being physically affectionate is part of who they are.

They are also enterprising. Their work for Snuggle Salon IS NOT a full-time job for most of them. They are actors, singers and dancers. They are massage therapists and mid-wives. They are natural healers and most importantly they are naturally compassionate, caring, generous human beings.

Snuggle Partner’s also have another super-power — they are courageous enough to tell the truth. This means they are able to easily and gently set boundaries — not only with clients — but within all their relationships. This means you can trust them to be authentically themselves with you. It also means you can trust them to tell you the truth, ask for what they want and hear no gracefully. If you meet them, they can teach you important life skills. Skills you may not be have been fortunate enough to have modeled for you as you grew up. Snuggle Partners are a gift to the world.

Snuggle Partners are interesting

Snuggling and cuddling is sweet, simple relaxation

Sometimes, we forget how slowing down, taking a break and just deeply relaxing and connecting with another kind, loving human being can just feel so good. After letting go of all the “stuff” — the worries, the stresses, the fears, all of it…..and just surrendering to the present moment….when all there is — is you and your partner and the embrace. What you experience next is the “snuggle effect”. It starts with a smile. Maybe a hand on your partner’s heart. Some deep breaths, while you gently gaze into your partner’s eyes. Ahhhh…. all is right in your world again.

The world can be a lonely place

This world can be a lonely place. We have all felt it. If we are traveling and far away from home. Or, if someone we love leaves us. Or, if tragedy strikes and a loved one dies. Or, when, a friendship, sadly, fails. Or, our kids go off to college. Humans feel lonely for many reasons — and often we don’t know how to meet that need for connection. To just be welcomed, to be received, to be embraced by another human being who really values human connection, too. In our current culture, feeling lonely is sometimes looked down upon — as if feeling lonely is a failure. But, loneliness is not a human failure — it a normal human feeling, which is a birth right of all human beings — to yearn for closeness, connection, understanding and compassion from another being who understands what it is like to feel lonely, too. This is a part of the reason for our work here at Snuggle Salon.

And, if the emotional pain of loneliness isn’t bad enough, apparently, loneliness can negatively affect our health. Salon Article: Loneliness Is Deadly