|It would be easy to write off the piece as mindless, irrational garbage if it weren't the dominant belief: Even if Patrick Howley is the only one saying it outright, women's bodies are constantly regarded as objects to be controlled.
Although Howley's anger is directed at progressives, the article is a response to a recent scientific study published in a peer-reviewed journal about sex roles.
In the study, researchers recruited university students to look at women with different body shapes using eye tracking technology.
The authors of the study found that, when the students were asked to focus on a woman's appearance over her personality, they focused on her chest and waist more than her face. For women with "ideal" body shapes (large breasts, small waists), students hardly met their subject's gaze at all.
And, unsurprisingly, the male participants were significantly more likely to "exhibit the objectifying gaze" than women and rate women with "ideal" body shapes more positively, even when they were asked to focus on personality.
The researchers' findings may not be unexpected, but they should make both women and men livid—men are socialized to objectify women immediately based on their physical appearance, unconsciously knocking them down from a peg from "human" to "thing attached to breasts."
The study makes Patrick Howley livid, too, but for completely different reasons.
"This is the kind of study MSNBC commentators can hold up when they're talking about 'rape culture,'" he writes. "This is what progressives exist to do. They take away our activities."
His activities? Apparently, Howley views women's bodies the same way he views his golf clubs, hunting rifles or dominoes—as playthings that were created for his pleasure. And he leaps to the defense of other men who do the same: a boss in Massachusetts who ogled his secretary's breasts until it made her workplace hostile and threatening, for example.
"And you know what else?" he continues. "A lot of women like it."
Does any of this rhetoric sound familiar? The acts of objectifying women, claiming ownership over bodies and deciding what they want without their consent are the fundamental elements that constitute rape culture.
I'll be clear: When a man ogles a woman's breasts or hips or ass for so long that the subject of his scrutiny notices, then he keeps staring—or worse, opens his mouth and explains his judgment of her body—it's not about sexuality. It's about who has power over whose body.
Howley's article isn't just offensive and disgusting; it's dangerous. And for women who are fighting to keep the conservative agenda from laying claim to our bodies, it's yet another reminder of the degrading attitudes that we're up against.
Natalie tweets from @nsanluis.