To be Objectified is to be Dehumanized by Pam WitzemannBy
Please help me welcome guest blogger Pam Witzemann. Pam contributes frequently to the discussions here in EFB and today she is writing on the topic of “Human Objectification” ~ Darlene
From Inside the Bubble by Pam Witzemann
To be objectified is to be dehumanized. One must be seen as an object before being manipulated and preyed upon. When a child is raised inside a system of manipulation, as an object, that child will grow to find her value in serving others. A life of service can be a healthy choice when it is made from the point of pre-existing self-value. When value is only obtained through service to others, it is validation of existence. Objects have no initiative of their own but are wholly dependent upon the will of others to move them. A fully objectified individual cannot realize her own individualism. She is crippled and unable to achieve full independence. I was such a child and I grew up to be a fully objectified woman.
My mother (also objectified) has often said that she wished she could place her children inside a bubble. Inside of that bubble, she imagined her children safe from harm. This abstract idea was in fact nearly her only expression of motherly protection. In reality, she seldom lifted a finger to protect me or my siblings. My mother would not move to protect us without the direction of my father. The bubble she created protected her from acknowledging her own failure. It shielded her from her children’s cries of pain, which were the result of cruelty and neglect. She was a distant mother who kept me fed and clothed and gave little of herself. She was a woman content to live in denial, avoiding responsibility.
My mother’s bubble of protection was part of the abstract world that I inhabited as a child. My father lived by manipulation and there was no reality, no truth that he could not twist to suit. Often, I think, he manipulated us for the sake of honing his skills. His own person was not immune from his magic distortion. He painted himself a very different man than the reality through tall tales of his exploits. His failures were touted as actually being superior ways of achieving goals. My dad lived for admiration. As a junky will do anything to obtain their drug, my dad would do anything for admiration. He used his own mother’s funeral as an avenue for attention. He performed dramas of feigned illness, including heart attacks and cancer. He threw huge temper tantrums that kept the family terrorized. He tortured me with cruel teasing. His favorite was to hold me so tight that I could barely breathe. The more I cried, the harder he would squeeze. Then I was scolded for not being able to take teasing. He drank large amounts of alcohol and my mom joined him. The alcohol added fuel to the dramas and at times, they threatened our lives. He gave me alcohol “medicinally” from the time I began teething. There were hot toddies for colds and daily “sips” of beer. Once, he gave me a driving lesson when he was drunk. I drove and he laughed while placing his hat over my face. He waited until I nearly went off the road or hit something before removing the hat. I didn’t want to drive again for a very long time. He thought it weakness to “run to doctors”. Medical treatment was often withheld or withheld until the last minute. I nearly died from Scarlet Fever when I was four and it took me a year to recover. My father only hit me twice. He didn’t have to. I was beat down on the inside.
The worst thing my father did to me was the way he treated my mother. The worst thing my mother did to me was to allow my father to mistreat her. Soon after they were married (my mom was 18 and my dad was 28), my dad moved her onto the family ranch which was very isolated. She had no glasses and no driver’s license. My father verbally demeaned her. He treated her like an imbecile and criticized her looks. When I displeased my father, I was told I was like her. My mother spent months alone on the ranch seeing no one outside of the family. My mother never had a friend.
When I was twelve, my parents decided to teach me about sex. Every Friday night, I was called to the kitchen table and as they drank, they would lecture me. They used their own sex life as an example. My dad would also make comments about my body. I was taught that if I lost my virginity, I would be used merchandise. I was taught that it was impossible to rape a woman. My dad used a moving coke bottle and a broom handle to demonstrate. I was not taught self value. My future value would be in pleasing a man.
The above is a small sample of my childhood. This was my world view. By twelve I was depressed and anxious. I began stealing my mother’s allergy medicine so that I could sleep. This was my first step towards drug abuse. My first memory of depression was at twelve. I remember sitting in my closet thinking about cutting my wrist as my parents were drunk and arguing in another room.
I was a perfect target for others to abuse. I already had it in my mind that it was better to let people do what they wanted so that they wouldn’t hurt me worse. I was raped at 14. I was raped again, by a pedophile, when I was nearly 16. He convinced me to leave home. No one cared, no one tried to come after me, or have him arrested. This led to me being abused by other pedophiles for the next year. A year later, I was forcefully sodomized and robbed. I then lost my ability to say ‘no’ or ‘yes’. I simply did and gave what others wanted. I was stalked and terrorized for nearly a year. My drug use and self abuse escalated. I wanted out! I chose to exit through the door of the only comfort I knew, my drugs. I died of an over dose and was brought back to life. I spent three days in a mental hospital and was released back to my desperate life. My drug use continued and I became homeless. I weighed 75 pounds. I was sick with hepatitis. At nineteen, I crawled back home. I had reached bottom. I would either lie down and die or begin to look up. I chose to look up.
Pam Witzemann was born in Santa Fe, NM and is now 54 years old. She has been married for 33 years, raised two boys and has two grandsons. Pam and her husband have had their own business for about twenty years. Pam is a painter and a writer and hopes to make these pursuits more than a hobby in her later years.
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