Objectifying Women’s Bodies is Acceptable from an Intimate Perpetrator, at Least for Female Sexists
- 618 Downloads
Objectification of the female body is generating much research. Nevertheless, this has revealed little about whether women’s evaluations depend on the level of psychological intimacy with the perpetrator of that objectification. Intimacy theory predicts that objectifying comments would seem more acceptable coming from a close partner, especially for sexist women. The present study begins to fill these gaps by analyzing responses from 301 heterosexual/bisexual adult women in the United States (M age = 37.02, range = 18–72) to appearance and sexual body comments made by four different male perpetrators: strangers, colleagues, friends, or partners. Measures assessed women’s perceptions of objectification, as well as reported enjoyment of these comments. As long as they were not negative, comments from heterosexual partners were perceived as the least objectifying and enjoyed the most; comments from colleagues, strangers, and friends were linked with greater objectification and less enjoyment. Additionally, sexist attitudes toward men and women—but more clearly toward men—linked with objectification and enjoyment. Future research directions and practical implications are discussed.
KeywordsObjectification Sexualization Sexual harassment Romantic relationship Body image Heterosexuality
The first author was supported by the Government of Spain, Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport State Program of Promotion of Talent and Employability R + D, State Sub-program of Mobility (State Plan of Research and Technology and Innovation 2013-2016).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Authors don’t have any conflict of interest.
The research on which this article is based was reviewed by the IRB or human subjects committee of Princeton University. Active informed consent was required.
- Abbot, B. D., & Barker, B. L. (2011). Differences in functional and aesthetic body image between sedentary girls and girls involved in sports and physical activity: Does sport type make a difference? Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 12(3), 333–342. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2010.10.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Butler, J. (1990). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Calogero, R. M., & Jost, J. T. (2011). Self-subjugation among women: Exposure to sexist ideology, self-objectification, and the protective function of the need to avoid closure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(2), 211–228. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021864.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Doohan, E. M., & Manusov, V. (2004). The communication of compliments in romantic relationships: An investigation of relational satisfaction and sex differences and similarities in compliment behavior. Western Journal of Communication, 68(2), 170–194. https://doi.org/10.1080/10570310409374795.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Etcoff, N., Orbach, S., Scott, J., & D’Agostino, H. (2004). The real truth about beauty: A global report. White paper. New York: StrategyOne. Retrieved from http://www.clubofamsterdam.com/contentarticles/52%20Beauty/dove_white_paper_final.pdf.Google Scholar
- Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. A. (1997). Objectification theory: Toward understanding women’s lived experience and mental health risks. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 173–206. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.1997.tb00108.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Gervais, S. J., Bernard, P., Kelin, O., & Allen, J. (2013). Toward a unified theory of objectification and dehumanization. In S. J. Gervais (Ed.), Objectification and (de)humanization. 60 th Nebraska symposium on motivation (pp. 1–24). New York: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6959-9_1.Google Scholar
- Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1996). The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory: Differentiating hostile and benevolent sexism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(3), 491–512. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1681.
- Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1997). Hostile and benevolent sexism: Measuring ambivalent sexist attitudes toward women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 119–135. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.1997.tb00104.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1999). The Ambivalence Toward Men Inventory: Differentiating hostile and benevolent beliefs about men. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 23(3), 519–536. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.1999.tb00379.x.
- Glick, P., Lameiras, M., Fiske, S., Eckes, T., Masser, B., Volpato, C., … Wells, R. (2004). Bad but bold; ambivalent attitudes toward men predict gender inequality in 16 nations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86(5), 713–728. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1243.
- Hirshman, L. R. (2006). Get to work: A manifesto for women of the world. New York: Viking.Google Scholar
- Jones, D. C., & Crawford, J. K. (2006). The peer appearance culture during adolescence: Gender and body mass variations. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, (2), 257–269. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-005-9006-5.
- Kozee, H. B., Tylka, T. L., Augustus-Horvarth, C. L., & Denchik, A. (2007). Development and psychometric evaluation of the Interpersonal Sexual objectification Scale. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 31, 176–189. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.2007.00351.x.
- Lameiras, M., Fiske, S. T., Gonzalez, M., Rodriguez, Y., & Carrera, F. (2017). Hostile versus benevolent objectification: Development and exploration of the objectification and enjoyment of Sexualitation scale. Paper under review. Google Scholar
- Legenbauer, T., Vocks, S., Schäfer, C., Schütt-Strömel, S., Hiller, W., Wagner, C., … Vögele, C. (2009). Preference for attractiveness and thinness in a partner: Influence of internalization of the thin ideal and shape/weight dissatisfaction in heterosexual women, heterosexual men, lesbians, and gay men. Body Image, 6(3), 228–234. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2009.04.002.
- Levine, M. P., & Harrison, K. T. (2004). Media's role in the perpetuation and prevention of negative body image and disordered eating. In M. P. Levine, K. T. Harrison, & J. Kevin (Eds.), Handbook of eating disorders and obesity (pp. 695–717). Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Levy, A. (2005). Feminist chauvinist pigs: Women and the rise of raunch culture. London: Simon.Google Scholar
- Milillo, D. M. (2006). Situational and ideological stake as predictors of women's perceptions of ambivalent sexism from potential romantic partners (unpublished doctoral dissertation). Storrs, Connecticut: University of Connecticut. Retrieved from http://opencommons.uconn.edu/dissertations/AAI3239567/.
- Moya, M., Glick, P., Expósito, E., Lemus, S., & Hart, J. (2007). It’s for your own good: Benevolent sexism and women’s reactions to protectively justified restrictions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33(10), 1421–1434. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167207304790.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Nussbaum, M. C. (1995). Objectification. Philosophy & Public Affairs, 24(4), 249–291. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1088-4963.1995.tb00032.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Orbach, S. (1978). Fat is a feminist issue: The anti-diet guide to permanent weight loss. New York: Paddington Press.Google Scholar
- Quinn, B. (2002). Sexual harassment and masculinity. The power and meaning of 'girl watching'. Gender and Society, 16(3), 386–402. doi:10.1177%2F0891243202016003007.Google Scholar
- Ramsey, L. R., Marotta, J. A., & Hoyt, T. (2017). Sexualized, objectified, but not satisfied. Enjoying sexualization relates to lower relationship satisfaction through perceived partner-objectification. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 34(2), 258–278. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407516631157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Rollero, C., Glick, P., & Tartaglia, S. (2014). Psychometric properties of short versions of the ambivalent sexism inventory and Ambivalence Toward Men Inventory. TPM: Testing, Psychometrics, Methodology in Applied Psychology, 21(2), 149–159. https://doi.org/10.4473/TPM21.2.3.
- Spence, J. T., & Helmreich, R. L. (1979). Masculinity and femininity: Their psychological dimensions, correlates, and antecedents. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
- Stöckl, H., Devries, K., Rotstein, A., Abrahams, N., Campbell, J., Watts, C., … Moreno, C. G. (2013). The global prevalence of intimate partner homicide: A systematic review. The Lancet, 382(9895), 859–865. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(13)61030-2.
- Unger, R., & Crawford, M. (1996). Women and gender: A feminist psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
- Watson, L. B., Marszalek, J. M., Dispenza, F., & Davids, C. M. (2015). Understanding the relationships among White and African American women’s sexual objectification experiences, physical safety anxiety, and psychological distress. Sex Roles, 72, 91–104. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-014-0444-y.