Good Old-Fashioned Objectification

One of the problems with today’s mentality is that objectification of the sexes often becomes run of the mill without anyone acknowledging that it’s wrong.

May Madness is an annual activity among students at some local high schools that has garnered ample attention in the past, but continued into this year without inhibition. Not unlike March Madness, the ‘May’ version includes a bracket and some competition- but unlike a game of basketball, May Madness objectifies female students to the extreme.

The bracket takes place on a Twitter account and pairs high school girls against each other in terms of their physical appearance. The girls’ male colleagues run the operation, casting their votes until the bracket narrows to determine the hottest girls in school. In the past, female students have watched themselves get objectified in the public eye, shouldering the insecurities and discomfort that come with it.

Until this year, that is. At Mount Si High School (about thirty minutes outside of Seattle), junior Elle Wilson started a Gender Equality Club, and began to respond to the blatant objectification that is May Madness. She and her friends made and wore t-shirts saying “Be Above the Madness”, and the movement has since gotten ample news coverage and attention from the surrounding community of Snoqualmie. Wilson has started selling her shirts online and the Twitter bracket has lost popularity. What started out as a subtle protest has turned into a full-fledged movement.

“I know for a fact that sexual harassment of this nature leads to low self-worth,” said Wilson to Living Snoqualmie. She says she’s tired of excusing this behavior on the grounds that ‘boys will be boys’. She doesn’t even really blame her male classmates, but rather attributes the guilt to a larger societal flaw. In an anecdote to Living Snoqualmie, Wilson recounts a time when she was watching a film in class that featured women who had been active figures for their causes, but some boys in her class only made negative comments about their appearances. Wilson began to wonder how she would ever be taken seriously if these women, who had done so much, still couldn’t amount to more than their physical appearance in the eyes of her classmates.

Because ‘not being taken seriously’ is a large part of what objectification is at its core. How could so many boys actively objectify their female counterparts and not see it as consequential? Probably the same way that some girls use the Lulu app without feeling bad. The app is a space where girls can rate guys that they’ve dated- as though they are movies that the girls went to go see as opposed to real people that they supposedly tried to make a connection with. Objectification often happens without anyone even objecting, and so by all means, the people who notice it should rightfully call it out.