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Candid Corner: The hurt wife

07:00 AM Oct 17, 2021 | Aili Seghetti

Q. I feel that my husband objectifies me all the time and doesn’t really see me as an individual. He engages with me only during mealtimes and when he needs something at home. The rest of the time, he makes comments on my appearance. Although they are positive comments, I feel that he doesn’t appreciate the rest of me. Why do I feel so bad about it?

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Ans: Feeling bad about being objectified without consent is great news. It means that you know that you are much more than a piece of flesh. When we get objectified without consent, we feel disempowered and lose touch with our multilayered selves. It is bound to be painful unless you have agreed to it. Many people consent to be seen as just bodies, but you don’t.

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Your husband values only your physical attributes, this could have made you believe that your body is your only value, but it hasn’t. You understand yourself as much more than your physical attributes, so it’s normal that you feel bad if your marital partner doesn’t acknowledge that. Nonconsensual objectification of women is a product of patriarchy, and so is your husband.

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No matter how aware he might be of the ills of this social system, he was brought up in it. Can he be blamed for his behaviour? Yes and no. We often underestimate how deep our socialisation is, and perhaps your husband hasn’t had enough exposure to ideas of gender equality. Can you change it? Yes and no. Setting some boundaries and expressing how you feel and what you need from him might facilitate change, but it’s not guaranteed.

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Patriarchy roots are deep and strong. On the brighter side, you will feel much better by speaking up. Conveying how his behaviour makes you feel will give you back agency. Do it without criticising him and be very clear about what you need from him. Is it appreciation of your personality traits, your intellect, or is it the things you do? Be very specific because your husband cannot read your mind. You can also keep the objectification within the boundaries of intimate moments. Objectification can be sexy when done with consent.

The writer is an Intimacy and Relationship Coach, Founder of The Intimacy Curator, an organisation promoting self-discovery through emotional and sexual well-being (www.theintimacycurator.com). (Have a query? Send it on fpjcandidcorner@gmail.com)

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