Celebrities and awards season, fun as it might be, also brings with it plenty of opportunities for women’s bodies to be sexually objectified. So here’s a worthwhile re-release! Ever wondered what women think about every 36 seconds? This episode has the answer–along with a re-hash of Caroline Heldman’s Ted Talk on sexual objectification. We chat about why it happens, what it means, and what we can do to combat it (which you’ll want to do after hearing the discussion–trust us.) From the Sexy Girl pecking order, to actively seeking out (or avoiding!) mirrors, to the conundrum of catcalls, sexual objectification pervades our daily lives. So what do we do next?
Listen to this: It’s Time for You to Stop Being a Sex Object
RANT, RAVE, TIP
Ravi Shankar station on Pandora – DO IT. It’s so good and relaxing!
What is UP with all the doom and gloom of shows? Lauren’s done.
The Sexy Lie: Caroline Heldman at TEDxYouth@SanDiego
Sex Object Test (SOT)
from Caroline Heldman’s article “Sexual Objectification“
1) Does the image show only part(s) of a sexualized person’s body?Headless women, for example, make it easy to see her as only a body by erasing the individuality communicated through faces, eyes, and eye contact:
We get the same effect when we show women from behind, with an added layer of sexual violability.
2) Does the image present a sexualized person as a stand-in for an object?
The breasts of the woman in this beer ad, for example, are conflated with the cans:
Likewise, the woman in this fashion spread in Details in which a woman becomes a table upon which things are perched. She is reduced to an inanimate object, a useful tool for the assumed heterosexual male viewer:
Or sometimes objects themselves are made to look like women, like this series of sinks and urinals shaped like women’s bodies and mouths and these everyday items, like pencil sharpeners.
3) Does the image show a sexualized person as interchangeable?
Interchangeability is a common advertising theme that reinforces the idea that women, like objects, are fungible. And like objects, “more is better,” a market sentiment that erases the worth of individual women. The image below advertising Mercedes-Benz presents just part of a woman’s body (breasts) as interchangeable and additive:
This image of a set of Victoria’s Secret models, borrowed from a previous SocImages post, has a similar effect. Their hair and skin color varies slightly, but they are also presented as all of a kind:
4) Does the image affirm the idea of violating the bodily integrity of a sexualized person that can’t consent?
This ad, for example, shows an incapacitated woman in a sexualized positionwith a male protagonist holding her on a leash. It glamorizes the possibility that he has attacked and subdued her:
5) Does the image suggest that sexual availability is the defining characteristic of the person?
This ad, with the copy “now open,” sends the message that this woman is for sex. If she is open for business, then she presumably can be had by anyone.
6) Does the image show a sexualized person as a commodity (something that can be bought and sold)?
By definition, objects can be bought and sold, but some images portray women as everyday commodities. Conflating women with food is a common sub-category. As an example, Meredith Bean, Ph.D., sent in this photo of a Massive Melons “energy” drink sold in New Zealand:
In the ad below for Red Tape shoes, women are literally for sale:
7) Does the image treat a sexualized person’s body as a canvas?
In the two images below, women’s bodies are presented as a particular type of object: a canvas that is marked up or drawn upon.
‘Get your arse out, mate’: we turn the tables on everyday sexism – video
Sexual Objectification on Gossipist
Inspired by our discussion on the dangers of sexual objectification of women, we took a long hard look at how Pillowtok and Gossipist potentially promotes this mindset. While our posts have always been in the spirit of harmless fun and honesty, we have to admit that some of them view our bodies as “projects to be worked on”. We want to call ourselves out on sexual objectification when we do it. So, below are where we’ve gone wrong. Make sure to let us know what you think, and keep us accountable!
Love, Pillowtok and Gossipist.