A new study published in the journal Psychological Science found that women are objectified at much higher rates than men. That sound you just heard was every woman in the world yelling, “Well, duh!” but still, this is a pretty interesting development, because as much as we can see and feel the effects of sexual objectification in our society and in our personal experience, it’s always been a difficult phenomenon to measure. Here’s how the most recent study worked…
Previous research has shown that people have no difficulty identifying an inanimate object from any angle, but have trouble recognizing photos of people when they’re turned upside down. Researchers at the University of Brussels showed participants photos of men and women striking sexy poses in skimpy swimsuits or underwear. Some of the images were displayed right side up, and some upside down. After each photo, participants were shown two images and asked to identify the photo they had just seen. Participants quickly and easily identified the upside-down photos of women, but struggled to match the photos of upside-down men, which strongly suggests that they were viewing the women as objects all along.
Another interesting finding? Female participants were just as likely as their male counterparts to objectify the women in the photos. Obviously it’s not only men who are taught to view women as sexual objects, and the way we view images of women has become a habit that’s deeply ingrained. As difficult as it was to measure the objectification of women, the next question is even more daunting: how do we stop it?
You can read the full study here.