Chai Musings – The ChaiWala
With the recent fame that Arshad Khan has come into through his picture going viral has brought an interesting question to light. With Arshad’s picture becoming an internet sensation with thousands sharing it in appreciation of his very conventional good looks the question of ‘objectification’ of men has come up. One post I read online went so far as to compare the hype that Arshad has received with that of Momina Mustehsaan as he alludes to the supposed double standards that he sees in people who claimed that the fame Momina received as objectification while the very same are okay with sharing and appreciating the ChaiWala.
I found this subject an interesting theme to ponder over and it was because of this that I found myself googling the word ‘objectification’ a while later. The word can be loosely defined as seeing or treating a person, as an object. It is mostly said to be a phenomena extended to females, with feminists particularly laying blame to pornography as a means through which men objectify women. While I find myself agreeing resoundingly with the notion I did not find myself being so sure as to whether the definition extended itself to the acclaim and fame Momina Mustehsaan has enjoyed of late, much less to that enjoyed by Arshad Khan. A more in depth probe into the term ‘objectification yielded a more comprehensive definition, posed by Professor Martha Nussbaum; a professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago. Professor Nussbaum voiced seven specific properties out of which even if one were applied, led to objectification of a person. These properties, although comprehensive, only served to confuse me more; for neither appeared to apply to the situation in question. However, I was later to stumble upon a rather different definition of the word, that came specifically under Sexual Objectification and that cleared the matter up conclusively. This definition was posted forth by Rae Helen Langton in her book, Sexual Solipsism. Helen suggests that sexual objectification occurs when a person is reduced to body, reduced to appearance or silenced.
Reduced to body suggests that the person treated and identified by his body or body parts, which perhaps could be alluded to our reduction of Arshad to his unconventional colored eyes. Reduction to appearance is done when a person is treated primarily in terms of how they look and appear to the senses. This is perhaps exactly what Arshad has suffered at the hands of thousands of unknowing social media users. I found myself faced with even more questions now that I found myself with the first one answered. Did this mean that any female celebrity that I liked was me invariable objectifying them? I didn’t know them per se, and some of my tastes were merely appreciations on how good they looked or how great their figure was (guilty as charged). It’s an uncomfortable notion, one that surprised me as much as disturbed me.