Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Lecture on Subjects.. and Objects

I was asked to be a guest speaker in a student public relations class one day last week. The overall theme was "Women's Bodies in Cyberspace" and I was to lecture about my own personal experiences regarding this topic. Hopefully, if you are reading this, you are already familiar with my story, and know about the crazy turn my life has taken in the recent months. This is exactly why it made me a perfect candidate to present this topic to a classroom of my fellow students. It was kind of intimidating, being that I am not that great of a public speaker, and also that this subject was very personal: speaking about myself, perceptions of my "sex life" and the price of notoriety. The kids (I say kids, though most were still like 18-20) were an awesome audience and I think they related to what I was going through pretty well.

I tried to explain to them what it is like to go through the things I have experienced in the past few months, equating it to high school. We all remember how cruel kids could be back then. I told them to imagine that, but at a national level. People who don't know me, have no clue about me, except from pictures they may have seen on the internet, insulting me, based on nothing but a perceived appearance. So is life. I told them that there will always be trolls that have nothing better to do with their pathetic lives than waste their time tooling away at their computers and insulting you as someone they will never meet. But I told them they have two options, they can either feed the trolls, or ignore them & deprive them of air until they are forced to crawl back under the bridge from which they came.

The most enlightening comment I had though, came from the Devil's Advocate position, played by the professor. He asked me: "Do you ever feel like just an object? Don't you feel like you are being exploited simply because of how you look?"

I thought about it.. and told him... "No, I consider myself more a subject than an object. There is a difference between being a subject.. and an object. An object has no control over its environment and its situations.. I on the other hand have control over my direction and my destiny. If I don't feel a project is right for me.. or if I am not comfortable in a situation at lets say .. a photo shoot.. I have the right to walk. I have the last word, because it is my life, and I will not be a bystander in it, but an active force."

The Tallahassee Democrat actually covered my lecture, as a part of their print article on me and my playboy shoot. I never thought they would actually host almost the entire lecture, but they did. As I said earlier, I am not the best public speaker.. nor do I claim to be.. but it was a great experience being able to speak to my own peers about all the things that have happened as a result of being an sudden internet force. I intentionally spoke in my normal casual way instead of a more formal approach, but only because of who my audience was. I am relaxed, and just a normal kid.. and I wanted to make sure that my audience knew that, despite everything that has taken place in the past few months.. I am still just like all of them.

I have gotten many letters regarding my lecture to the class, the majority from young women. They basically told me that I made them reconsider the way they saw models, and that it was good to see a woman who was so comfortable in her own skin, that she could come into a class and face her worst critics, her peers, and herself. Their praise and understanding meant more to me than any magazine shoot or any web page, because it came from them. It came from the student body at Florida State. It was nice to felt wanted, but more so, just understood. For the first time in months I felt just like one of them. Thanks to the public relations class that let me come speak. It was the best psychotherapy session a girl could ask for, because it let me get out everything that has been bothering me these past few months... and it let people see the real me. The girl that used to cry about all the negativity, until she realized it was ruling her life. The girl who was only seen as a pretty face and not for what she could possibly contribute to society. The girl who faced it all, and in the end will come out on top... Thanks to people like my audience. Thank you for understanding.. me.

3 comments:

LSUoverUSC said...

You should post your lecture on here.

A quick response to this -- I think when guys on the internet see your picture and respond positively to you it is because of your looks alone. Like your title goes, they see you as an object, which is what "degrading" oneself by portraying oneself as a "piece of meat" does. In Modern terms, the viewer sees the object as a means to their end of sexual gratification. Following Kant contemporaries would say it is absolutely wrong to use anyone as a means and not as an end in and of themselves. The dignity and absolute value of the human subject is brought down to the same level as that of an inanimate object or non-human animal. The subject becomes an object, a means, and in process, temporarily loses his or her inherent dignity. The litmus test for such a hypothesis is in what happens when the subject's attractive looks fade. Are those who flocked to the subject because of the subject's beauty and willingness to flaunt, some would say exploit, that beauty still interested when those looks fade?

White Dade said...

I agree. you absolutely should post your lecture on here.

David Wen said...

Great blog. It's always refreshing to see someone speak what's in their heart and not try to be politically correct or appeasing about it.