Imagine you're a mom situated in your airplane seat, your child seated beside you. You're a little cramped but otherwise content with your current position. A while ago, you went through the typical hassle of customs and filing onto the plane. Now you have the chance to sit back and forget about your troubles for a bit. Then something almost unthinkable starts happening.
The man sitting adjacent to you starts touching you – in public and in the midst of a congested cloud of other people. You're uncomfortable and push his hands away from you. In response, the man's tactics only become more pervasive and invasive. He starts clutching at you between your legs, and you spurn his gesture once more, demanding he knock it off.
It is a very bold and disturbing invasion of another's privacy, really a reduction of another's humanity into an objectification and isolation of the body. Certainly, it would alarm any of us who had experienced it. For one woman, as she was flying to Charlotte, NC, to Salt Lake City last week, the above scenario was all too real.
Eventually, upon reporting the incident, the woman and her daughter who accompanied her were given different seating accommodations. Due to this assault, the plane made an unanticipated stop in Tulsa to deliver the offender to the authorities. There the airport police filed a charge of intoxication against James Clayton Cholewinsky-Boy, the man accused of the harassment during the flight. Following this, the FBI stepped in and brought a sexual contact complaint against Cholewinsky-Boy. The accused is 32 years old.
Earlier this year, the FBI also provided reports concerning the numbers involved in instances of sexual assault on airline flights. As of 2018, there has been an increase in reported assault over the previous four years. An official from the agency said there are probably a host of other situations, similar to the Cholewinsky-Boy case, which occur but never get reported.
Should this surprise us? No. Despite the atrociousness of these acts, they are not unfamiliar to those who pay attention to what is going on in the world today. Scandal within the Catholic Church. Allegations against athletes and politicians. The substantial chronicles of repulsive, tyrannical advances from Harvey Weinstein upon various actresses. Acts of sexual abuse and assault are ever on the rise while the individual's view of self and of others is on a steady descent into the pit of moral oblivion.
There is a trend in modern art, in fashion, in so much of our entertainment, and in the manipulative marketing strategies constantly employed around us that leads toward an objectification of the human being. This is the mindset that much of our culture is nurturing, and what it's nurturing is a parasitic network of toxic fungus. Its fruiting bodies only have the capacity for damaging social relations. Sometimes its signs are subtle. Other times, as in cases such as those of Weinstein or Cholewinsky-Boy, its presence is clearly recognized.
This hypersexual permeation by which society is surrounded can easily be seen as a basis for degrading common social structures of respect. This is not only applicable to the portrayal of women but men as well. When it comes to cinematic drama and product marketing, both sexes fall victim to objectification. And this only breeds unhealthy relationships or damages pre-existing ones. Authentic love, understood as selfless, is growing rare. Because the secular outlook on sexual attraction is primarily one of self-indulgence, the modern individual often falls into the trap of seeking the pleasure of self rather than the pleasure of others.
In order to reverse this ideology of objectification which has wormed its way into our culture, there are a few steps I believe we can take to work backward – away from the sex-driven mob which society has become. These can be summed up by how we react with people in society and how we contribute to the building up of culture. The seekers of purity and of genuine love would dress and act modestly, avoiding the temptation others might have to objectify them.
We would also do well to contemplate the kind of media and entertainment we digest as this also has an impact on how we see others and react to them. (Entertainment that displays erotic nudity only offers a sensual dimension of another person's being, nothing more.) Lastly, if you're visually creative, consider what merit your work may have. Art and film have the potential to help people see themselves and the world in new light. Show the world the human person in true beauty not an object of sensual interest.
As people who take part in our culture, it is up to us to work toward the restoration of decency to every human person. Why don't we strive for true love?
John Tuttle is a journalist and creative who has written for Inside Over, News Bling, Hacker Noon, Culture Wars Magazine, Love Thy Nerd, The Wanderer, The University Bookman, and the University of Notre Dame's Grotto Network. He loves God, family, and friends. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.