Author Joe P. Attanasio blogs about Poetry, Life, Writing, Indie Publishing, Role playing games and going to war in Vietnam, His novels are showcased here as well.
Friday, December 25, 2015
Part 1: What is Sexual Objectification of men or women?
Part 1: What is Sexual Objectification
of men or women?
of men or women is the act of treating a person as a commodity or an object
without regard to their personality or dignity. Sexual objectification (SO)
takes this a step further making them an object for a person’s sexual
gratification with no consideration for them as human beings.
objectification (SO) of the female or male body equates their worth with their
body’s appearance and sexual functions which is highly
subjective. The person’s body or body parts are singled out and separated from them
as a person and they are viewed primarily as a physical object of male or
female sexual desire and gratification.
affects both men and women but to simplify I will use Objectification of women
as referenced in the following study.
Roberts study (1997) asserted that women to varying degrees
internalize this outsider view and begin to self-objectify
by treating themselves
as an object to be looked at and evaluated on the basis of
Roberts (1997) postulated that self-objectification
can increase women’s anxiety about physical appearance
(i.e., fear about when and how one’s body will be looked at and evaluated); and
increase women’s opportunities for body shame (i.e., the emotion that results from
measuring oneself against a cultural standard and coming up short).
This SO often
intersects with women’s other sociocultural identities, such
as sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, and social class, to
form unique sets of media portrayals and experiences for subgroups of women
(Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997).
lesbian and/or same-sex female relationships have become increasing sexualized,
exploited, and used in the media to target some male fantasies of being
involved sexually with two or more women at the same time.
In addition, the sexual exploitation and
victimization of African American women from the days of slavery to the present
has led to media images and stereotypes of Black women as sexual aggressors and
sexual savages (Greene, 1994; Thomas, Witherspoon, & Speight, 2004).
Asian American women are often portrayed in the media as sexually
subservient, childlike, and exotic (Root, 1995).
Furthermore, women in lower social class positions are often considered gross,
overly sexed, untamed, crude, and deserving of sexual exploitation and
aggression (Pharr, 1988; Smith, 2008).
For example, the
APA’s (2007b) review of studies examining depictions of women in the media
including commercials, prime-time television programs, movies, music lyrics and
videos, magazines, advertising, sports media, video games, and Internet sites
revealed that women more often than men are depicted in sexualizing and
objectified manners (e.g., wearing revealing and provocative clothing,
portrayed in ways that emphasize their body parts and sexual readiness, serving
as decorative objects). In addition, women portrayed in the media are
frequently the target of men’s sexists comments (e.g., use of deprecating words
to describe women), sexual remarks
(e.g., comments about women’s body parts), and behaviors
(e.g., ogling, leering,
Cat-calling and harassment).
Many women also
experience immersed forms of SO that occur when women are part of situations,
environments, and subcultures where the SO of women is encouraged and promoted.
For example, certain situations that accentuate awareness of observers’
perspectives on women’s bodies, such as ballet dancing, beauty pageants,
modeling, and cheerleading, are likely to enhance SO (Slater & Tiggemann,
In addition, many women work in environments
whose main purpose is to offer explicit targets for men to objectify them and
that reward them for treating themselves as sexual objects (e.g., exotic
dancing and cocktail waitressing).
criterion for a Sexual Objectification Environment (SOE) is the existence of
traditional gender roles.
Gender roles are
the set of behaviors, personality attributes, self-concepts, and
expectations organized according to cultural definitions and
prescriptions of masculinity and femininity (Gutek, 1985; Worell & Remer,
2003). Defined in a traditional manner, men’s gender roles are oriented towards
competency, achievement, and agency and include traits such as independence,
aggression, competitiveness, rationality, problem solving, and objectivity
(Bakan, 1966; Parsons & Bales, 1955).
In addition, traditional gender role
socialization encourages many men to be powerful, controlling, and dominant;
see women as sex objects; view sex as a conquest; and believe that women are their
property (Worell & Remer, 2003). Alternately, women’s traditional gender
roles tend to be relationally and expressively oriented and include characteristics
such as nurturance, emotionality, passivity, dependence, and
harmony (Bem, 1993).
gender role socialization encourages many women to be submissive to men and
fulfill their needs and wants, seek men’s protection, and accept responsibility
for limiting and controlling men’s sexual behavior (Worell & Remer, 2003).
Thus, the existence of traditional gender roles in an environment is likely to
contribute to attitudes and behaviors that allow for and normalize the SO of
The final core
criterion for an environment to be sexually objectifying is the acknowledgement
and approval of male gaze in that setting. As Fredrickson and Roberts (1997)
asserted, “The most subtle and deniable way sexualized evaluation is
enacted—and arguably the most ubiquitous—is through gaze, or visual inspection
of the body” (p. 175). Quinn (2002) reframed sexual gaze as “girl watching,” a
specific, yet subtle, form of sexual harassment that cannot be avoided and is
not under women’s control.
Quinn, girl watching is a “targeted tactic of power” where men use gaze to
demonstrate their right to physically and sexually evaluate women. The activity
serves as a form of playing a game among some men; however, the targeted woman
is generally understood to be an object, rather than a player, in the game.
Thus, from a male point of view, “acts such as girl watching are simply games played
with objects: women’s bodies” (Quinn, 2002, p. 398). The effects of male gaze
on women may be intensified by the accompaniment of sexually evaluative
commentary (Allen, 1984).
manifestations of objectifying gaze that may be present in an SOE are the
inclusion of visual media showing interpersonal encounters (i.e., men looking
at women in advertisements) and visual media depicting women’s bodies and body
parts Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997).
In subsequent parts this will be further discussed and any points made in the comments here will be addressed.