Are Women More Objectified Than Men?
A new research study tries to convince us that there is a genetic cause for women being seen as objects.
There’s a new scientific study that suggests that people see women as objects rather than whole persons and that this is something inherent in human beings.
What are we to make of this kind of research? Can we take it at face value?
Scientists at the University of Nebraska (2012) conducted the research. Simply put, the researchers conducted a series of experiments in which photos of both men and women were shown to a group of volunteers (men and women). When shown images of women the participants were said to perceive them as the sum of various body parts (ergo “objectifying” the women). On the other hand when shown images of men, the volunteers were said to view the males as a whole person. According to the lead researcher we can conclude from this that people are pre-disposed in some way to see women as a collection of sexual body parts, while men’s sexual body parts were better seen in the context of their entire bodies.
Gaps In Logic?
While I can’t dispute the findings on a scientific level, it seems to me that this type of research has gaps of logic in it. Not to say that women are not still objectified in many cases. But, isn’t it possible that the backgrounds and experiences of the volunteers in the study, regardless of their being male or female, could have played a role in how they perceived the images they viewed. A female volunteer, for example, if her past experiences in life had included being objectified in some manner in her workplace or personal life may come to see images of other women in the same manner as she had been viewed – irrespective of the right or wrong of such circumstances.
The same could go for the male volunteers. If they had experienced their wives, girlfriends, or female co-workers having been objectified (or even if they had experienced, but disagreed with, instances of objectification in contemporary media) they may assume that all women have been objectified and therefore see the images in the study as more of the same.
The flaw in this study, perhaps, is that the researchers have painted a broad brush across the subject matter without necessarily looking more deeply at the factors that may influence the participants. So, concluding that objectification is something inherent to humans is therefore questionable and makes it much harder to eliminate such behavior from society.
What do you think?