Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Reply To: On the Objectification of Sam, et al. PART II (added per the request of Terry)

Home Outlander Costuming Discussion Forums General Outlander Discussion On the Objectification of Sam, et al. PART II (added per the request of Terry) Reply To: On the Objectification of Sam, et al. PART II (added per the request of Terry)


I agree with your assessment regarding the assumption of narcissism on the actors part. However, there is a fine line between self promotion and self objectification. I’ll confess my foolish past here… When I was seventeen I had this resentment about not being able to go topless like men. I considered the breast issue similar to the ankle issue – if a bunch of us just start going topless the men will get used to it and stop sexualizing our breasts. Makes sense, right? I was driving on a freeway in Wyoming. It was August and very hot – no air conditioner. I went there. I took off my shirt. Little did I know that the largest truck stop in the U.S. was just down the road. Further, I didn’t know that the way highway prostitutes solicit customers is to take off their top on the freeway. I don’t know if you can imagine how scary it is to be boxed in by hundreds of semi’s on a freeway, the drivers of which are being extraordinarily suggestive, but I can assure you it’s hard to adequately describe. In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have been objectified like that but I realize now that I crossed the line between self promotion and self objectivization. My heart was in the right place, but I was not paying attention to context – and that matters. What happened was my fault and I accept full responsibility for having been dumb. I did not ask anyone for reimbursement for the expense of replacing my undercarriage after escaping down a cattle path. One has to take responsibility for ones personal safety.

Something similar happens with domestic violence victims. They are not responsible for the abuse, but the only way to empower them to escape it is to educate them on what they are doing wrong. Usually, buying the lie that he’s going to change. At some point you have to take responsibility for what is happening to you. It’s a dance. It isn’t one sided. You have to stop setting yourself up for victimhood and take charge if you want out.

The point is, Sam Heughan crossed that line when he presented himself as an objectifier of women on twitter. He’s not a victim anymore. He says he’s fine with objectification. I have to believe him. He’s in the visual arts. He knows what elements, context, and symbols are. I can only conclude it was deliberate and that makes this whole conversation pointless. The ladies will tell you, if you ask them, why they are trying to look up kilts. Instead of complaining about their answers you need to listen to them. Some of their reasons are connected to the show and are therefore not valid but Sam himself is providing plenty of other reasons for them to believe that on a personal level via social media. Sam Heughan has sent the message that he is a sex kitten kind of guy so he’s getting sex kittens (do that to a woman… I do not feel sorry for you). The ladies can give you a whole bunch of examples of him saying just that to them implicitly and explicitly. If that’s not right then he needs to come up with a way to correct the impression he gives. Until then I’m assuming that’s the personality he wants to project. He likes sex kittens who are into objectivization, fine. Just don’t complain about them. (Btw he isn’t complaining – you are) It did spoil the whole feminist vibe for me but oh well! MEN – what are you going to do?

The bottom line is that one video was horrible. It caused damage. The context of releasing it on social media made it ugly. It did not represent grace or dignity. It represented misogyny. It crossed the line. It was childish, gratuitous, insulting, and it provoked the crazies. If gave them permission and man did they go for it. If one wants respect one needs to give respect – always. That’s a well established rule. I sat there and watched it in real time. That video hit social media and the shit hit the fan before I could say “Oh God” and its never been the same since. There is no question in my mind who is responsible. He’s not a victim and he does have the power to fix it if he wants to take responsibility. He can acknowledge that releasing that video was wrong. That objectification is wrong and he’s sorry. It’s been a while so I don’t know how well that would work, but it would be a beginning. It would at least give us something to say to the crazies.