I first became aware of Diaz when Something About Mary hit the screen. It’s a story about a group of inept men, who have latched onto Diaz’s character Mary. I have yet to see Diaz take on anything that is even remotely powerful, let alone empowering to women. Some of this could certainly be because like many actresses in Hollywood, she has been slotted into a certain category, from which there is no escape. To get an idea of what I mean, try and see if you can think of a Jennifer Aniston film, which is not a romantic comedy. This is why it is really important to dissociate actors from the roles they play. Regardless of the various privileges we know that Diaz possess, the fact that she is a woman in Hollywood means that there is a good chance that she may not have been offered better roles.
What we cannot afford to ignore are the words that Diaz says herself because they are not filtered through a Hollywood lens, which tends to devalue women.
She told The Sunday Times newspaper: “It’s empowering. I’m not some young girl with the photographer going, ‘Will you take your clothes off?’ I’m like [mimes stripping], ‘How does this look?’
“They’re like, ‘Today we’re not going to put anything other than bras and heels on you,’ and I’m like, ‘These heels are not high enough.’
“I’m a woman, I know how to handle myself. I know what I feel comfortable doing and I know my sexuality.”
The Bad Teacher star also thinks its “healthy” for women to want to be objectified.
She added: “I think every woman does want to be objectified. There’s a little part of you at all times that hopes to be somewhat objectified, and I think its healthy.” (source)
I think that Diaz needs to open a dictionary and actually look up the word objectified. There is a difference between desiring to be thought of as sexually attractive and desiring to be objectified. What thinking person would want to be reduced to their sexual organs for the pleasure of men? Women who are objectified are not thought of as human; they are nothing more than tits and glory holes at best. I cannot imagine for one moment that an intelligent woman would desire for one moment to be objectified.
It is certainly healthy for a woman to be confidant about her sexuality, sexual needs and have the ability to seek out sexual satisfaction. It is not healthy for a woman to wish for her humanity to disappear to achieve these ends. Diaz’s statements don’t show critical thought and in fact, seem very much to reify the messages that young girls and women receive everyday. The media doesn’t teach women that they are in control of their sexuality, let alone their own bodies. It teaches women that our only value is to be eye candy for men through continual objectification. If one is a woman of colour, the objectification is usually coupled with racism. Women do not benefit from performing for the straight male gaze.
To me, her entire statement feels more like the internalisation of sexism than empowerment. I don’t believe for one moment Diaz has given real thought to what she is advocating. What it shows is a complete misunderstanding of women’s empowerment. It’s a good thing to be in control of one’s sexuality and another thing entirely to advocate that this empowerment which is often perverted to form the basis of objectification is a good thing.