I read a news article here:


See the headline: “Blue Ivy at the VMAs is adorable, but you still don't get to objectify her”

What are the meanings of “get to” and “objectify” in this sentence?

5 Answers 5


Getting to do something means taking an available opportunity to do something. It generally has a positive connotation.


verb (used without object)

21. to succeed, become enabled, or be permitted:
You get to meet a lot of interesting people.
Source: Definition of “get” on dictionary.com

When someone says “you don’t get to do that”, they mean to disallow that opportunity and suggest you are not able (or should not be able) to do something you want to do.


transitive verb

to treat (someone) as an object rather than as a person
She says beauty pageants objectify women.
Source: Definition of “objectify” on merriam-webster.com

The key part of this word’s meaning is that objectifying someone means not treating them as a person. Objectifying someone means relating to them as if they were anything but an independent consciousness, complete with a unique identity, thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, etc.

In the case of this headline, the author is suggesting that we have a tendency to relate to this infant as a phenomenon rather than a nascent being. Vawter seems the be saying that when we pin our own expectations on a famous baby we take away Blue Ivy’s freedom to define herself on her own terms as she grows up.


Get to VERB means get an opportunity to VERB or, by extension, be allowed to VERB.

I got to go to Jamaica last year and had a phenomenal time.
My grades were so good I got to skip the final exam.

Objectify means treat as an object, where object may have a variety of senses; in this context it means treat as a legitimate object of public attention, treat as a celebrity.

The author's meaning may be paraphrased

Blue Ivy at the VMAs is adorable, but she should be treated as an ordinary baby, not some media fetish.


It means that the author thinks she is politically correct, and is verbally punishing her readers for what she thinks they think. She is accusing her readers of thoughtcrime.

In particular:

  • "objectify" means "treat a person as an object". It can also means "treat an animal as an object", or "treat a plant as an object", or "treat an important person as an unimportant person". The general idea is that something important (like a person who matters, especially to herself) is being thought of as part of a category that includes less important things.

  • "get to <verb>" can be used neutrally to mean "be given the chance to <verb>" or "get the chance to <verb>". For example, "After the Super Bowl, the Most Valuable Player gets to visit Disneyland."

  • In the context of the original example, "get to <verb>" is a derogatory turn-of-phrase meaning "was unfairly given (by the system that controls things) the chance to do something unfair" or "just because they thought it was easy/convenient/fun/nice, decided to unfairly <verb>".

"Objectify" is most commonly used by feminists complaining about people who think about girls or women in ways that the feminists do not approve of. "Objectify" is also used by people who do not like that the military trains soldiers to maim and kill people.

In this case, the author thinks that each baby is unique, and should be given the chance to appreciate things from a baby's perspective, and do all the normal things that a baby does. She does not want people to forever think of the baby as a perfect doll in a photo, because the baby will grow up to lead her own life. She does not like some of the positive things that people think about "beautiful black babies" -- she implies that the positive thoughts reach the point of "fetishization".

In summary, the author thinks the baby "deserves to just be a baby without everyone gawking at her", and complains about people who think differently.

  • 1
    Could you phrase your answer in a manner that is less combative? Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 20:39
  • 1
    "Objectify" is a harsh word. This use of "get to <verb>" is combative. People use these expressions when they want to shock someone into changing the way they think or talk about something.
    – Jasper
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 21:39
  • 3
    That doesn't change the fact that the first paragraph is totally unhelpful as a lead, the bullet points are useful (though the third could be streamlined), and the last two paragraphs are a really good explanation of the phrase as a whole. [I don't think the second paragraph is really necessary after the first bullet, and it smacks of something that I can't put my finger on but don't particularly care for. But on its own merits it's fine.] Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 23:13
  • @eric-stucky Thank you for the constructive criticism. I will have to sleep on it, and see if I can both address your points and make the answer more helpful.
    – Jasper
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 23:18
  • Hehehe...+1 for the first para.
    – anotherDev
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 6:32

It means you are not allowed to objectify her, with the assumption that you previously wanted to treat her like an object (as opposed to a person).


"Blue Ivy is an attractive woman, but you are not allowed to (don't get to) think of her as an anonymous sexual object who exists merely for your gratification (objectify her)"

  • 3
    Your example will be great in about 18 years, after Blue Ivy grows up. But she is currently a baby, so the example sounds very bad. Perhaps you can change the name in your example?
    – Jasper
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 21:45
  • 2
    @cloudxix I'm guessing you answered just by seeing the content in the question and not going to the actual source, right? This is why they say Context is everything :P
    – anotherDev
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 6:35

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