Per National Review, there is a bit of an uproar over a statue tribute in Lakeland, Florida to the famous leg lamp from the classic Bob Clark movie A Christmas Story. I don’t think we can take this controversy too seriously from the right or left as it appears to be a minority of complainants (mostly on Facebook, ugh-the echo chamber), but it does get into the old argument (ad nauseam) of what is sexist because obviously we must be objectifying all women’s legs through the kitchy tribute to a comedy movie from the eighties.
“I’ve never liked the objectifying of a woman’s body part,” wrote one Facebook user (per the article, and I fixed the user’s spelling) as if this settles the argument on whether the A Christmas Story leg lamp is sexist. What I’ve realized with “objectification” is that it is neither bad or good, it’s a reality! We all objectify each other (which is biologically normal) and the majority of us temper that objectification with moral reasoning and a societal consensus on what’s appropriate in how we act upon that objectification. Love affairs begin with the objectification of the opposite sex until something deeper develops.
A silly artistic tribute to a female leg (an objectification) is not sexist by it’s very existence, nor is it dangerous to women. The fact is, art is a type of objectification any time you depict another person or a part of a person. Good art is like a good relationship if it can then upon a second look transcend the medium and evoke an emotional response or tell a story. However, no matter how good we deem the art to be, it is still a product (objectification) to be hung on a wall or to be sold at auction. The term “objectification” is overused and often useless when discussing real sexism because real sexism is about determining gender bias in relation to an an actual outcome with a legal consequence. The left and religiously conservative prudes honestly seem to think that a depiction of a female body part is so dangerous it will scar the souls of children, harm women and cause indecent acts.
The leg lamp as art represents the embellished memories of Jean Shepherd who recounted the time his father actually won a “major award” and the family conflict it caused because it was the silliest, most stupid looking prize ever. Yes, the leg lamp was described as “electric sex” and strangely aroused young Ralphie, however, I don’t think Ralphie was inspired to keep women out of the workforce or molest girls at school or become a rapist. And the majority of us who have watched A Christmas Story did not turn into sexual deviants. If the leg lamp represents anything in this trivial news story it is how trivial the hunt by the Left is for sexist symbolism over the substance of real abuse.
BTW: I was given A Christmas Story leg lamp for Christmas three years back…by my sister. Which was thoroughly approved of by my wife. Women do not think alike–because if we did believe all women thought alike? Maybe that would be sexist.