Empowerment, Body Positivity and the Internet

What is objectification? What does it mean to be sexually objectified?

Meghan Murphy from Feminist Current unpacks in more detail with Lindsay Kite from Beauty Redefined. Here are some of Lindsay's answers. 

"Sexual objectification is generally thought of as looking at and viewing people’s bodies as objects for consumption — so, parts of people to be viewed, to be judged, to be consumed, to be used, to be discarded. Not seeing people in their full humanity. We aren’t valuing how they feel, what they do, what they say, what they contribute to the world. We’re simply valuing bodies (women’s bodies, especially) for what they can do for other people, particularly men — how men can consume those bodies, how men value those bodies."


"Objectification really happens through the viewer. It’s the “look” of the viewer. This also happens through the “look” of the camera. So when we talk about the male gaze, it’s really valuable because so much of what we see in media — especially in mass media and the social media that reflects that mass media — we see cameras tilting up and down women’s bodies, zooming in on parts of their bodies. The dialogue from other characters — the text about those women — revolves around what their bodies look like, what other people think about what those women look like, and how those women are valued, usually (pretty much solely) for what they can do for other people — how they can be used and consumed."

"This gets complicated when we start talking about “self-objectification,” which is a really huge part of my research. Most of what we do through Beauty Redefined focuses on helping people to recognise self-objectification. Not just looking at images that they may be objectifying or other people that they may be objectifying, but how they are thinking of themselves. And it gets complicated because we know that when we look at images of women, and we’re solely looking at parts, basically dismantling women and evaluating them based on just what they look like — that’s objectification. We are objectifying those women. Sometimes that choice is taken away from us because of the way the camera or the dialogue treats those women’s bodies. It does the objectifying for us. And so the viewer then becomes kind of complicit in that objectification because we’re viewing it and seeing and understanding images that way a lot of the time."

"I think there’s this really false idea in our culture that if you love your body — if you feel good about yourself, if you’re a confident woman — you should be taking your clothes off and showing everyone to prove it. This is extremely problematic, because that’s this really false conflation of objectification and being willing to display your body for the consumption of others as the ultimate in “confidence.” And we would never ask men to do that."

Listen to the full podcast on the Feminist Current blog here.  

Read the transcript on the Beauty Redefined blog here.


Caroline Heldman unpacks sexual objectification by asking these questions:

1) Does the image show only part(s) of a sexualized person’s body?

2) Does the image present a sexualized person as a stand-in for an object?

3) Does the image show a sexualized person as interchangeable? 

4) Does the image affirm the idea of violating the bodily integrity of a sexualized person that can’t consent?

5) Does the image suggest that sexual availability is the defining characteristic of the person? 

6) Does the image show a sexualized person as a commodity (something that can be bought and sold)?

7) Does the image treat a sexualized person’s body as a canvas?

Read More: Sex sells, but at what cost? 

Read more about sexual objectification here, and here


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