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Sun Jul 29, 2012, 10:51 AM

Study: Proof That We Sexually Objectify Women

The journal article is behind a pay wall so I have no idea how well this writer is reporting the study, nevermind how valid the methodology is, but I think it's an interesting experiment.

Study: Proof That We Sexually Objectify Women
By Lindsay Abrams

Jul 26 2012, 7:00 AM ET 136

We look at women the same way we look at houses and sandwiches: as composites of attractive parts.

PROBLEM: Few would argue that the objectification of women is a real thing -- and a real problem -- but as yet there's been no cognitive explanation for it in a literal sense. Do we really look at women differently than we do men, and are they actually objectified in the eye -- and brain -- of the beholder?

METHODOLOGY: Images of average, fully clothed individuals (read: no supermodels in bikinis) were quickly flashed before the eyes of participants. After each one, the participants would then be shown two side-by-side images that zoomed in on one, "sexual" aspect of the individual (for example, a woman's midriff) and asked to identify the version that hadn't been modified. The experiment was also reversed, so that participants first looked at a specific part and then had to identify it in the context of an entire body. The test was designed to clue researchers in on whether the participants were using global or local cognitive processing while looking at the images -- in other words, whether they perceived the individuals as a whole or as an assemblage of their various parts.

RESULTS: Regardless of gender, participants consistently recognized women's sexual body parts more easily when presented in isolation. Men's sexual body parts, on the other hand, were more memorable as part of their entire bodies.

CONCLUSION: The cognitive process behind our perception of objects is the same that we use when looking at women, and both genders are guilty of taking in the parts instead of the whole. When we look at men, we use global processing to see them more fully as people.

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Arrow 11 replies Author Time Post
Reply Study: Proof That We Sexually Objectify Women (Original post)
Gormy Cuss Jul 2012 OP
zazen Jul 2012 #1
Gormy Cuss Jul 2012 #2
Zorra Jul 2012 #3
Neoma Jul 2012 #4
LadyHawkAZ Jul 2012 #5
obamanut2012 Jul 2012 #6
Neoma Jul 2012 #7
LadyHawkAZ Jul 2012 #8
FloridaJudy Jul 2012 #9
Neoma Jul 2012 #10
LadyHawkAZ Jul 2012 #11

Response to Gormy Cuss (Original post)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 11:26 AM

1. I wish we could conduct the study pre mass-media

Of course, male dominance has existed in various forms across most cultures at least back to the onset of the agricultural revolution.

But the particular form of sexual objectification we've seen in the past 100 years or so seems to me to be strongly abetted if not driven by enculturation to hold women to outrageously rigid, self-policed standards of physical appearance.

I wonder if prior to learning to break women's body parts down according to mass media standards, which has gotten worse as an enculturated habit just in my 40 years on this planet, if both genders would have seen women more holistically (within the context of this study) but still ascribed other signs of inferiority.

Interestingly, and I know I'm not the first to comment on this, the most similar pre-mass media case we have of parading human bodies before consumers to be evaluated were slave auctions.

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Response to zazen (Reply #1)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 11:48 AM

2. I remember the first time I heard of this, which was at a talk by Jean Kilbourne

not long after her first "Killing Us Softly" film was released.
It's stunning how often portions of women are used in advertising.

Interesting observation about slave auctions.

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Response to Gormy Cuss (Original post)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 01:16 PM

3. Thanks, GC! That helps prove the obvious.

Anyone who doesn't believe that women are objectified in this culture probably suffers from very serious perception/cognition deficiencies. One of these deficiencies could be the result of the perceptually deficient individual being so thoroughly inculcated from birth by institutionalized sexism that s/he simply cannot grasp the obvious reality of widespread sexual objectification of women in American society.

It is likely that most of the individuals who cannot perceive/recognize the objectification of women have never experienced this type of objectification in any way, and possibly lack the empathic abilities to relate to the feelings and perceptions of women who express dismay over this objectification, and who pretty much universally know for a fact that we are objectified, and that it is not simply some manifestation of the non-reality based essential misogynist and/or sexist invented stereotype of silly, hysterical, feminist female.

Obviously, there is a high probability that the objectification of women, as an acceptable expression of an unjust social norm deeply ingrained into the collective consciousness of patriarchal cultures such as our culture here in the US, may be in great part due to the dogma and practice of the patriarchal predominant religions historically and presently adhered to by members of these cultures who sexually objectify women:

Quran Sura 2:223 "Your women are your fields, so go into your fields whichever way you like . . . ."

"But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." (I Corinthians 11:3)

"For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man." (I Corinthians 11:8-9

"Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." (I Timothy 2:11-14)

Quran Sura4:34 ". . . If you fear highhandedness from your wives, remind them , then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. If they obey you, you have no right to act against them. God is most high and great. "

Quran in Sura 65:1
"O Prophet, when you divorce women, divorce them for their prescribed waiting—period and count the waiting—period accurately . . . 4 And if you are in doubt about those of your women who have despaired of menstruation, (you should know that) their waiting period is three months, and the same applies to those who have not menstruated as yet. As for pregnant women, their period ends when they have delivered their burden."

And so on, and so forth, ad nauseum, in these, and other predominant patriarchal dogmas as well. Denying the existence of the objectification of women in American culture is almost as silly as denying that various historical patriarchal systems and processes have had major influence on existing patriarchal culture of the US, and denying that a somewhat diluted form of non-egalitarian patriarchy still dominates the reality and collective consciousness of this society as it exists in the present.

While it is true that women, through long, difficult struggle, have made great gains in the collective recognition that we are human beings equal to men...(hey, we are no longer considered the legal property of men, and we can even vote now! isn't that special? aren't we lucky?...institutions such as patriarchy and resultant objectification of women do not magically vanish overnight, as dome of the deniers of patriarchy and objectification apparently would have us believe...if these individuals even recognize that, despite massive evidence and almost universal academic recognition, these essential noumena/phenomena ever existed in reality in the first place.

"Man enjoys the great advantage of having a god endorse the code he writes; and since man exercises a sovereign authority over women it is especially fortunate that this authority has been vested in him by the Supreme Being. For the Jews, Mohammedans and Christians among others, man is master by divine right; the fear of God will therefore repress any impulse towards revolt in the downtrodden female."
--Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex 1949

In an unprecedented act of pure magic,
Glinda the Good Witch makes the objectification of women
a non-reality in US society.

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Response to Gormy Cuss (Original post)

Sun Jul 29, 2012, 01:17 PM

4. I'm a barbie girl, in the barbie world. Life in plastic, it's fantastic!

So, if a woman wears a skirt, and wears jewelry, and maybe makeup... Are we essentially trying to make ourselves more like objects without realizing it?

I don't really need science to know the objectivity going on. But it makes me kind of wonder about what I wear and the affects of the people around me.

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Response to Neoma (Reply #4)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 02:28 AM

5. I have a hard and fast rule

If it's uncomfortable and/or unnecessary, don't put it on. It pretty much covers anything that might be considered objectifying.

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Response to LadyHawkAZ (Reply #5)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 07:27 AM

7. I can do without the high heels.

But I'll keep the sombrero.

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Response to Neoma (Reply #7)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 07:56 PM

9. Dammit, do I have to give up earrings?

I haven't worn make up in decades, but I feel nekkid without them.

My son wears earrings too, but I think he only owns one tie. Just for interviews.

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Response to FloridaJudy (Reply #9)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 08:02 PM

10. I'm not giving up jewelry.

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Response to FloridaJudy (Reply #9)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 08:21 PM

11. There are always exceptions to any self made rule

I have tragus piercings. Not uncomfortable but definitely unnecessary.

So maybe it's not quite as hard and fast a rule as I make it out to be. But for the most part, things like heels, makeup, etc are not part of my wardrobe.

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