Sexual objectification is the viewing of people solely as de-personalised objects of desire instead of as individuals with complex personalities and desires/plans of their own. This is done by speaking/thinking of women especially as only their bodies, either the whole body, or as fetishised body parts.
Sexual attraction is not the same as sexual objectification: objectification only occurs when the individuality of the desired person is not acknowledged. Pornography, prostitution, sexual harassment and the representation of women in mass media and art are all examples of common sexual objectification.
The concept of objectification owes much to the work of Simone de Beauvoir regarding the basic dualism of human consciousness between the Self and the Other: the general mental process where humans classify the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’. Women are universally viewed as the Other across all cultures, a role which is both externally imposed and internalised, and which means that women are generally not truly regarded as fully human. An important point of de Beauvoir’s was that this Othering effect is the same whether women are viewed as wholly inferior or if femininity is viewed as mysterious and morally superior: Otherness and full equality cannot coexist.
- Dawn M. Szymanski and Stacy L. Henning (Sex Roles, Volume 56, Numbers 1-2 [January, 2007]): The Role of Self-objectification in Women’s Depression: A Test of Objectification Theory
- earlbecke (Definition): But don’t you like to be objectified sometimes?
- Persona non grata (
): Objectified does not equal Idealized
- Gaze, especially the “male gaze” (Wikipedia): Gaze
- More on gaze and objectification:
Yes, I admit, there is a “female gaze,” although some feminists like Laura Mulvey argue that “the male figure cannot bear the burden of sexual objectification,” and that besides, the female gaze is merely the co-optation of the male gaze. I would myself add that the female gaze is inherently different. While the male gaze objectifies and sexualizes, the female gaze is “emmasculated,” that is powerless.
- drumgurl (Redneck Feminist): Hot enough to be feminist (see also: tough enough to wear pink)