Objectification Theory

Research


Recommendations

The Foundation has conducted a preliminary literature review of objectification theory research to date. In general we were happy with the accelerating pace of experimentation in the field - and express our deep appreciation of all participants. We view their work as a courageous and profound contribution to human knowledge of the phenomenon of prolific sexual objectification and its consequences in contemporary society.

Despite the tremendous advances in recent years, we believe there are some exciting new avenues waiting to be explored. In particular, the research to date has yet to recognise and critique the genetic (non socialised) component of the gender bias in objectification (the desire for an object) and self-objectification (the desire to be desired). Until this is properly addressed - and relevant studies have been conducted - it is difficult to conceive the mainstream population rising up against those components of their socialisation which exploit this natural desire. The health benefits alone do not satisfy the general populace's desire for reason.

Secondarily, not all socialisation which results in vulnerability to desire for objectification/self objectification is necessarily malformed. The problem is not the vulnerability, it is the inhumane exploitation of that vulnerability. In an attempt to normalise gender, there had been a failure to recognise that social equilibriums established asserting differences in presentation and behaviour between the sexes (however subtle when realised in a humane fashion) still have a genetic basis.

Research Proposal

We suggest developing ways of quantifying the relationship between sexually objectifying environments (SOE) and sexual objectification (SO) in males. SOE includes here both experience of self objectification in others, and objectification in the media exposure ("sex priming"). We don't believe there has been thorough enough differentiation (investigation of the differences) between sexual objectification experience, SO, and self objectification in males versus females. The fact the surveys are often biased towards comparatively high female sample sets confirms a possible lack of male influence in the research also.

The following proposal applies to heterosexually orientated persons.

We propose development of an OAC - the Objectification Acceptance Consciousness. The OAC measures our sum tendency (innate and/or socialised) to consciously sexually objectify others.

General Hypothesis

Summary

Females (SOE + nature -> OBC -> OAC):
We hypothesise that OBC (objectified body consciousness) in females - i.e the desire to develop/maintain one's body to be an attractive sexual object based on perceived standards of attraction - causes secondary/artefact OAC - judging others with respect to how we judge ourselves. Note perceived standards of attraction are likely to be innate/genetically determined, but are also developed in accordance with objectification theory (OT) through experience of a) sexual objectification in the media and b) the objectifying gaze.
Males (SOE + nature -> OAC -> OBC):
For males however it is likely that evolutionarily/genetically favourable objectification acceptance (OA) causes secondary/artefact OBC (the desire to develop one's body to attract/win a sexual object).

Objectification Body Consciousness (OBC)

Females (SOE [sec] + nature [pri] -> OBC):
The OBC for females is heavily socialised/manipulated in an objectification tolerant society (the desire to meet social standards in beauty). However the OBC as applied to females also has a genetic driving force (the natural desire to be perceived an attractive mate by the most genetically suitable/dominant male). Note female partner selection based on genetic suitability/dominance is indicated to be the case at least during key fertility openings of the cycle.
Males (SOE + nature -> OAC [pri] -> OBC):
The OBC for males however may be purely determined socially. Body surveillance (the weighted terminology here implies surveillance of self) in males a) may be used to encourage self to increase strength/fitness in order to attract an objectified mate, and b) often features as a psychological defence mechanism to cope with inadequacy of self/ego, e.g. via prior objectification acceptance (OA). Note a specific desire to increase strength is not genetically coded - rather only a desire for power.

Note an alternate hypothesis would suggest that there is no innate desire to be desired in females, only a desire for both power and a sexual object (like in males), but we are not suggesting this here. The current hypothesis suggests that the feeling power gained a) for males through making another experience their objectification, and b) for females by making another experience one's (apparent) self-objectification, is the respective byproduct of a) having the desired 'object' under one's control, and b) having another's desired desire for them under control.

Objectification Acceptance Consciousness (OAC)

The OAC we propose features an inverse gender bias as compared to the OBC in social (nurture) versus genetic (nature) causation.

Males (SOE [sec] + nature [pri] -> OAC):
There exists a natural motivation (genetically/hormonally supported) for males to (at least subconsciously) objectify females - described as a "potential" in objectification theory. This is product of their subconscious desire for reproduction with as many physically fit females as available subject to resources and social hierarchy. This physiological potential (limitation) for outsourcing reproduction to the female body causes less discrimination in mate selection for males. In a civilised environment however (which has adapted its environment to nullify this limitation in the male psyche, via for example clothing, education, edicate, etc), for such natural motivations to be consciously accepted, they usually must first experience sexual objectification (via SOE).
Females (SOE + nature -> OBC [pri] -> OAC):
a) Physical attributes indicative of genetic health/suitability are important for both males and females. Females however impose additional requirements during mate selection; namely b) dominance (the ability to protect their present/future offspring against threat) - also indicative of genetic health in a male, and c) anything which might indicate future reliability in providing for them and their potential offspring (given the potentially vast number of step offspring they might conjugate in their life time). The OAC for females we propose is therefore primarily a socialised feature used to evaluate and apply judgement of perceived male standards in physical beauty/suitability (to attract a suitable candidate). The OAC could however serve to some extent in fulfilling natural requirement a) for females, although we propose it is most significant in fulfilling natural requirement a) for males.

Method

The OAC will be established/defined based on acceptance/"consumption" of sexual objectification experience. This includes SO experience in both SOE (objectification in the media and apparent self-objectification - perceived self objectification in ambient persons), and self generated objectification (the intentional development of sexual objects in one's mind - including perceptions of one's partner during for example intercourse). The OAC is a measurement of the periodicity of conscious fantasising of sexual objects in general (e.g. x times per day/week/month/year/decade), and is weighted based on the internal acceptance level of the fantasies (e.g. are they played out in action - either with one's self via misassociation or one's partner?).

It is also required to test that the OBC is in fact naturally biased towards females, or if this is just a social artefact of the SOE. It is difficult to test the OBC bias in non-SOEs, since none exist in the western world at present. However there may be a few remaining cultures which have not yet adopted a tolerance of sexually objectifying contexts and could therefore be studied as a baseline.

Testable Hypotheses

It is predicted that the OAC will be biased towards males, as the (unnormalised) OBC is biased towards females.

It is predicted that persons scoring high on the OAC will have reduced long term sensitivity to experience of non-objectified human beauty. Persons scoring high on the OAC will also have reduced long term sensitivity to less intense experiences of objectification (in the media, apparent self objectification, etc) than experienced during usual fantasising (thereby affecting measurable standards of obscenity). In the same way those scoring high in OBC will have reduced sensitivity to non-objectified human beauty, eg facial, personality etc.




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