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People Ownership- Objectifying Relationships


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Just had an interesting point for people to ponder, why do we "still" use "ownership" in connection with people, i.e. spouses, children, or in the BDSM world, a sub?

 

This isn't about slavery, which is a political topic out of bound for the Lounge, but a question of language and terminology.

 

There's a weird object relationship creation in our use of "owning" certain terms, rather than perceiving them as individuals with their own feelings, thoughts, and desires.

 

This might be a literary nitpick on my part and some social commentary on our societies' values, but it is an interesting question of language choice.

 

But hey, my avatar is a Pikachu, a symbol of ownership relationship (Gotta Catch'em all :lol: )

 

To Clarify this topic:

 

Look no further than parents of athlete or the parents of gay kids.

 

As they "own" the child, their success is reflected positively on them,power from i.e. praise, Free stuff from scouts, and of course money.  Then, their gay kid's disgrace (in the parent's eyes) is enough to toss innocent kids out on the street due to fears of persecution, homophobia, and a lower social standing.

 

There is valuing of people as objects

Edited by W_L
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Are you asking why people use terms such a 'my spouse' or 'my children', and insinuating that those are possessive in an ownership way rather than simply indicating personal relationship from the person speaking to the person(s) they're speaking about? Because, honestly, I really don't understand your topic post at all.

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Are you asking why people use terms such a 'my spouse' or 'my children', and insinuating that those are possessive in an ownership way rather than simply indicating personal relationship from the person speaking to the person(s) they're speaking about? Because, honestly, I really don't understand your topic post at all.

 

Think of it this way:

 

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You are in a conversation with a high school/college friend, who talks about their family.

 

"I got a really hot wife and a kid who can read at a 3rd grade level at 7."

 

I respond, "Okay, cool"

 

"Yeah, she's so hot and knows all the routes in the area, don't even need GPS anymore. My kid is so smart he's starting to correct me on grammar errors, so I hardly use spell check."

 

(Just a compilation of some conversations I've had and I bet others have had as well)

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Cia, do you see what I mean by treating people as objects? Placing value on attributes in comparison to products, it just hit me that relationships seem to be objectified.

 

We put people in the same category as "owned" objects that benefit us, I just thought it was a good point to be made about an issue of ownership.

 

In the BDSM world, it has existed as a sexual tribute system, which creates categories of relationships with partners that are treated like objects.

 

I am just making the point that there is an ownership concept out there of people, valuing other human beings as objects rather than experience based relationships.

 

Probably an easier example is the overzealous parents of athletes, who value their kids by success in front of other peers, enjoying the value of the "owned" object. We all know what it looks like, but the context is not just limited to sports.

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So people should only describe/talk about their children and spouse when talking to other people based on... what? Their looks? Their age? Nothing at all, just say, "I have a wife and kids"? Anything else is objectifying them by talking about their characteristics, skills, personality traits?

 

I'm sorry, but whatever you think this issue is... it's really not.

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So people should only describe/talk about their children and spouse when talking to other people based on... what? Their looks? Their age? Nothing at all, just say, "I have a wife and kids"? Anything else is objectifying them by talking about their characteristics, skills, personality traits?

 

I'm sorry, but whatever you think this issue is... it's really not.

 

Well, I am not claiming moral superiority, just that an ownership concept exists and its an interesting social dynamic that we use in everyday language and everyday relationships.

 

As for alternatives, why not praise the person themselves instead of praising your connection with them. It's their ability and their capability, not your own that make them unique. 

 

Still it's merely an observation on social dynamics as I said maybe I am being nitpicky, but it seems like we place value on people as owned objects.

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I could have understood your point more easily if you'd used as examples people who insist on saying "THE wife" or "THE kid", perhaps un- or subconsciously not using their names.  This, to me, objectifies and "depersonalizes" the person being discussed.  To me it almost puts that person on the same level as saying "the car" or "the house."  My brother always referred to his first wife as "the wife this" and "the wife that".  They are now divorced.  He's much more careful with his current wife.

 

Your example of the man with the really hot wife and smart kid says to me that this is a man who is proud of his beautiful spouse and his intelligent child, nothing more and nothing less.  Were they in the same room with him and you, I'm sure he'd take the time to introduce both of them to you.  My husband and I refer to each other as "my husband" all the time; using the possessive to me indicates how much that person treasures having you in his life.

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I could have understood your point more easily if you'd used as examples people who insist on saying "THE wife" or "THE kid", perhaps un- or subconsciously not using their names.  This, to me, objectifies and "depersonalizes" the person being discussed.  To me it almost puts that person on the same level as saying "the car" or "the house."  My brother always referred to his first wife as "the wife this" and "the wife that".  They are now divorced.  He's much more careful with his current wife.

 

Your example of the man with the really hot wife and smart kid says to me that this is a man who is proud of his beautiful spouse and his intelligent child, nothing more and nothing less.  Were they in the same room with him and you, I'm sure he'd take the time to introduce both of them to you.  My husband and I refer to each other as "my husband" all the time; using the possessive to me indicates how much that person treasures having you in his life.

 

Usually, that's true.

 

To me, it depends on the conversation, an occasional reference or praise of your spouse and kids is normal, but a large amount of it , while showing how they benefit "me" the speaker, is turning the person into an object. Also, comparing people to products continuously is the other aspect that these conversations creates an object out of a relationship for terms like "wife", "son", or "daughter"

 

Like I was saying, it was just an example of how some of my conversations with people have gone as compilation, not a direct word for word conversation.

 

Maybe, it's because I know people with strong egos and personal drives that make them extremely, what's the nicest way to say it, materialistic, it just strikes me as an aspect of these conversation and brought this topic into being as a matter of introspection and terms of use.

 

As you noted with your Brother, Using an informal "the", it is a part of language

Edited by W_L
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Well, maybe chalk it up to the vagaries of grammar; English, at least, describes a noun as "a person, place or thing."  Intrinsic differences exist between each of those "things", but English grammar treats them as the same thing and the same rules of description and qualification apply to all such things.  I must use the same adjective to say "my husband" and "my car", but I feel differently about my husband than I do about my car.  I wish I knew more about linguistics - I'm sure that there are theories that describe things like this - but we all understand this difference even as we may not be able to explain it.  Moreover, we must - and do - take into account the person speaking about these things; we all have subjective reactions as well as objective ones when we listen to someone.  I guarantee you that each of us - no matter which end of the spectrum we inhabit - will have varying degrees of interpretation if, say, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton say the same thing in the same context.  We import understanding and relevance into our speech and while some people you have heard might lay claim in a materialistic way to a spouse or a child, not all people do, even if they are forced to use the same grammatical conventions.

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Can we make a distinction between 'possession' and 'connection'?

As chrysoprase so insightfully explains, we use the same terms for both and make our own interpretations.

In our enlightened societies we mostly hear the 'connection' usage and equating that with 'possession' is a step too far.

 

But, and I think this is a big 'But', the 'possession' aspect is also a very serious fact of life.

Here in Australia the prevalence of domestic violence has become a major public issue in recent times with a shocking amount of suicide and family trauma coming to light.

Slavery is still part of our world and many cultures have the 'possession' of wives and children as their norm.

W_L's point about 'ownership' is significant and one we should be aware of.

  • Like 1
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Well, maybe chalk it up to the vagaries of grammar; English, at least, describes a noun as "a person, place or thing."  Intrinsic differences exist between each of those "things", but English grammar treats them as the same thing and the same rules of description and qualification apply to all such things.  I must use the same adjective to say "my husband" and "my car", but I feel differently about my husband than I do about my car.  I wish I knew more about linguistics - I'm sure that there are theories that describe things like this - but we all understand this difference even as we may not be able to explain it.  Moreover, we must - and do - take into account the person speaking about these things; we all have subjective reactions as well as objective ones when we listen to someone.  I guarantee you that each of us - no matter which end of the spectrum we inhabit - will have varying degrees of interpretation if, say, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton say the same thing in the same context.  We import understanding and relevance into our speech and while some people you have heard might lay claim in a materialistic way to a spouse or a child, not all people do, even if they are forced to use the same grammatical conventions.

 

Can we make a distinction between 'possession' and 'connection'?

As chrysoprase so insightfully explains, we use the same terms for both and make our own interpretations.

In our enlightened societies we mostly hear the 'connection' usage and equating that with 'possession' is a step too far.

 

But, and I think this is a big 'But', the 'possession' aspect is also a very serious fact of life.

Here in Australia the prevalence of domestic violence has become a major public issue in recent times with a shocking amount of suicide and family trauma coming to light.

Slavery is still part of our world and many cultures have the 'possession' of wives and children as their norm.

W_L's point about 'ownership' is significant and one we should be aware of.

 

I think you guys got to what I meant, this is not a topic of politics or social issues really; though it extends to it if we move in certain direction.

 

My point was just the concept of turning relationships and people that inhabit your life into objects of possession/ownership. It has happened in other contexts from historic slavery to modern BDSM, but most people either find the concepts strange or abhorrent to human nature to own another human being. Yet, it does seem that it also has other ways of popping up with normalized conversations.

 

Chrys, you have a good point about our perceptions of what other people are actually expressing, but in addition to overt expression, there is a subconscious expression as well. If you read the works of Jacques Lacan, a famous psychologist who help develop some interestng theories about the nature of language, there was an interesting theory on how "psychological drive" and everyday language are connected.

 

It comes down to a matter of linguistics.

 

Do people mean "My wife" or "my son" in the same way they mean "my car" or "my computer"?

 

Why do "some" (not all mind you, as I don't want anyone, Cia especially as I am not sure she understood what this topic was about, to consider this universal) use their family members as a measure of status and authority as if they were driving around a "Porsche" or using a top line "Alienware" computer system?

 

As writers and readers, it's a topic of language and interpretation with open meanings and subtle meanings.

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