chapter  11
The Inhuman Body: When Sexual Objectification Becomes Dehumanizing
ByJEROEN VAES, STEVE LOUGHNAN, ELISA PUVIA
Pages 19

In our daily lives, we all define goals, and rather often we use other people to achieve them. Asking your romantic partner to warm your feet using his or her body is a good example of the instrumental use of someone else. In that specific moment, we are likely more concerned with resolving our personal problem (i.e., cold feet) and consequently value our partner’s foot warming qualities, instead of his or her personality. In other words, our momentary goals make us judge our partner as an object that is valued for its usefulness rather than for his or her personal qualities. Still, most readers would agree that there is nothing wrong with this type of behavior. The request implies using the other for one’s purposes, but provided that this kind of behavior is done consensually, without causing pain, in the context of a relationship where the partner is also treated as a full human being and not only a foot warmer (see Nussbaum, 1999, for a similar reasoning), it can hardly be seen as problematic. In contrast, we would all agree that the use of slave babies and children as foot warmers would be highly objectionable. Using a child slave as a foot warmer does not only imply the temporary instrumental treatment of a human being. Given that it takes place outside of a larger context of regard for humanity, it loses all legitimacy and occurs in complete disregard of the necessities, feelings and wellbeing of the objectified. As such, it appears that objectification understood as the instrumental consideration of the other changes in quality and consequences when dehumanization is involved.