Objectified to Death

by Chantelle Tibbs
co-editor, Defenestrationism.net

A few years ago at my retail job, I was confronted by a White man who– while looking for health supplements– felt the need to let me know that he found Black women to be exotic and attractive. Myself being Black and Puerto-Rican, I could see (and feel so energetically I gagged) that this was his round-about way of letting me know he was interested in me, sexually. I remember a sinking “here we go again” feeling in my gut, as he began to explain that his ex-girlfriend was very dark in complexion, and that their skin colors, together, created art. At this point I made my exit. 

While I watched him slither out of the store from a safe distance, I could feel my heart race. My body was saying Danger! Up until a few days ago, when I read about the recent tragedy in which eight people were murdered at three different spas, I can honestly say that I didn’t take my bodily fear response seriously. I remember joking my way out of feeling uncomfortable. I believe most women do, just to get by. 

But now I believe my body and my response to this man’s objectification was a wise one in its response: to fear. It is easier to cause harm to an object than to a human being, and easier to justify that harm. Compassion leaks out the window, and if darker intentions are afoot, monstrous incidents can occur. My body’s response was to protect me in case things took a wrong turn. 

The shooter was racist in such a vicious way that he used those women to fulfill his sexual desires, then disposed of them in the manner someone would shoot a dog out back.  Because they didn’t meet his distorted religious criteria. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a case that so clearly focuses on one group of people as completely disposable. And his message was clear. He drove to three Asian spas back-to-back. His assumption of privilege is surreal. 

These women died because they were what his dick liked to get off to, and in his delusion, he decided that his perceived commitment to his own religion was more important than these women’s lives.  Someone like this is extremely dangerous, because the combination of not having the capability to take responsibility for one’s actions, using organized/ politicized religion to target an enemy– whom the person sees as having caused the person pain– and a previous agenda to eliminate this perceived enemy, it’s a serial killer cocktail. 

A case that rings similarly for me– Omar Mateen, a 29 year old Muslim who, it was later revealed, “struggled with being attracted to men,” killed 49 patrons at a gay bar in Florida. I believe he blamed gay people from making him stray from his faith. In the end, police had to kill him before he could kill again. 

I don’t believe these men are capable of stopping themselves. In the first case, the shooter was not even able to take responsibility for doing the work it would take to heal his sex addiction. he blamed the “objects” of his  attraction. So now in order to stop killing, he would first have to take responsibility for murdering innocent people and then go back and take responsibility for the addiction and objectification that led him to killing them in the first place. Let’s not forget the added weight of his religious beliefs in which murder is a mortal sin far worse than sex addiction. So if he doesn’t frame this somehow as a religious cleansing crusade in line with his faith, he winds up taking a whole lot of responsibility that he has already demonstrated he is clearly not capable of. 

In the case of both of these killers, instead of owning up to their sex addiction, they really thought killing every object of their desire was the correct course of action. What deeply disturbed individuals. 

My heart goes out to the victims and their families. I intend to celebrate them by listening to my body’s response– to reach a state of fear the next time someone tries to objectify me.

Chantelle Tibbs,
co-editor, Defenestrationism.net

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