Treating someone as an object aims to de-humanise them. Having women acting as fruit platters at an upmarket Sydney soiree is designed to perhaps titillate, and to certainly generate a reaction from the viewer. Pleasure? Discomfort? Horror? Uncertainty? The designer of such a display doesn’t care as long as there is a reaction. That the equilibrium of expectation is unsettled.
They’re flirting with the abject. This is when someone tries to disrupt comfortable feelings and expectations by blurring the distinctions one normally sees in life. Women are not usually acting as fruit platters. Fruit is not regularly served on near nude women’s bodies.
It aims to get people thinking about what is the appropriate response? It’s outside the everyday repertoire for most. It invites people to interact with the ‘women as platters’ at a level that is less than everyday human interaction. It aims to distance viewers from the women’s humanity.
It can be called a successful public relations stunt – people are talking about a bar in Sydney where they otherwise wouldn’t be.
Anyone can claim it is just a bit of fun. To have another view casts one into the role of party-pooper. This bit fun however comes at a cost, much more than the models’ hiring fee.
How could a fruit platter’s emotions count as much as a regular humans’? When a person is somehow less than a person, this creates in the viewer a degree of emotional distance. It perhaps becomes okay to eat off the ‘woman as platter’ which further disconnects the party goer from the person on the table.
If a woman allows herself to be objectified, that is, to be degraded to the status of ‘just an object’, that says more about the world we are living in than the woman herself – the same world that blames victims of rape or domestic violence.
Article 5 of the Declaration of Human Rights, to which Australia is a signatory, says no one shall be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment. Objectification is such treatment. It is unacceptable in 2015 to ask women to be employed as decorative food platters. It is unacceptable for people not to speak out when they see a wrong in the world.
It comes down to having basic respect for another human being.