I’m reaching out because I don’t know how to deal with the reality that I can’t change. I tried to let go but I’m unsuccessful. A bit of my past: I came from a typical family. No violence, no sexual abuse. However, I grew up feeling that my younger brother was getting more attention because of bullying problems in school. Later, sexual abuse from my first “boyfriend” and a cousin (happened twice). I saw a therapist during 2 years in order to live with this and to heal these wounds. I don’t feel my physical self-esteem is a problem – I think I look good and I’m also a nice person. I like myself even with these wounds. It is a part of me that I accept.
Today, my beliefs are very tenacious. Objectification of women, whether inflicted by themselves or by others, disturb me a lot whether it’s in the media, magazines or everywhere. The graphic sexuality that we see everywhere on TV disturbs me. This affects my relationship as I feel that my boyfriend objectify women too despite our conversations and his more than obvious feminism, I’m not able to feel good and secure.
And the idea that he sees or does objectify obsesses me. I think of it every day and I make myself unhappy. I don’t want to change these beliefs as I cherish them and I don’t think I’m in the wrong about the objectification of women. However, I no longer want to feel sad, angry or anxious about the idea that a scantily clad woman, naked or wearing objective clothes happens in everyday life. I no longer want to feel that I have to control things in order to avoid them. I don’t want to have arguments for a situation that I can’t change – because I know that it exists and that I can’t change it. But I can’t help it. I hate that. I hate society. I hate to know that my boyfriend sees these women even if he doesn’t agree with the objectification.
And these emotions are so intertwined with my beliefs, I don’t know how to honour them if I downplay my emotions or conversations. However, this need to stop. I’m so unhappy. I feel crazy to think about it and avoid places or events because it may happen. And if it happens, it ruins everything. (From Canada)Coping with Objectification of Women, Emotions and Obsession
Coping with Objectification of Women, Emotions and Obsession
I admire your well thought out and articulate question and concerns. My best guess is that the objectification of women and your anger at it puts you in a double bind. If you feel good about who you are and are comfortable with your body — thinking you look good — may, in itself, be a type of objectification. It may open up the question of what looking good means — and to whom — for what reason. This concern would be amplified if you believe your boyfriend objectifies woman.
Your therapy for the multiple sexual traumas sounds like it was effective in helping you cope and achieve self acceptance. As all of the attacks include betrayal, my guess is that the feeling of mistrust may be high. Your betrayers saw you as sex object and the fact your boyfriend seems to objectify women is, again, a double bind. His very attraction to you becomes cause for concern.
I would highly recommend some sessions with your previous therapist as he or she knows your whole story and can help you sort through this last part.