Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker

Exploring Objectification

In a Facebook conversation about my last post, Renee of Hardy Girls Healthy Women brought up the idea proposed by Dr. Sharon Lamb that enjoying being the object of someone’s attraction or desire is not always unhealthy. This is an important distinction which I plan to explore more in the next few posts, using Dr. Lamb’s work as a springboard. The idea is that when we look at sexuality within the context of the person and their relationships, one will necessarily at times be both the admirer and the admired. When anyone is in a relationship, they do want to feel desired by their partner. This goes back to the points I made in my last post on what I view as sexualizing. In particular, these two components:

  • The exclusion of a comprehensive view of sexuality that places it into the context of one’s identity, emotions, and relationships
  • The exclusion of a depiction of females as complex social, emotional and physical beings
Our sexuality is a component of our identity. When we try to divorce it from who we are, how we live, and the relationships in which we function, then it becomes confusing. What bothers me about the consistent depiction of women as objects of desire, is that it leaves no room for the nuances of relationships and even of  feelings and emotions. We are human beings, as are the children and adolescents in our lives, and we function in social contexts. To see a dichotomy of roles that one can play as either object or subject seems false when considering the complex interplay of human interactions.

In this analysis of recent research on objectification that I read on the SPARK Summit blog, the point is made that even advertising that attempts to present women as empowered may in fact lead them to feel objectified. So you see, the idea of sexualization is a complex one. As I said in my last post, I think it behooves those with different perspectives to talk openly with one another and exchange ideas rather than fighting amongst ourselves. This is an area that I’ll continue to explore within the context of media messages and their effects on children and adolescents.
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2 comments on “Exploring Objectification

  1. Rebecca Henson
    June 22, 2011

    I am not sure that anyone has exactly the same perception of sexualization. Just because the media says one thing (or shows/implies one thing) it doesn’t mean that everyone tries to conform to it….

    Has anyone taken a trip to WalMart lately and have looked around? That is what most of America looks like. :)

    From most of my experience and with many people I know- it is pretty conclusive that almost everyone DOES see women as complex, social and emotional human beings. We are so complex we need books to help us understand men… lol

  2. Beth G. Wade
    June 23, 2011

    Sharing ideas from different perspectives openly seems to validate the reality of women as complex beings with brilliant minds capable of considering alternative conceptulizations of who we are, what we are capable of, and how exciting it is to live as a 21st Century woman in America. This is from the observations of one who was born into a world where a woman was “supposed” to desire above all to excel as a wife, mother, and maybe a teacher or nurse if she wanted to be a “successful” person in life. I appreciate each one who shares, and I encourage you to continue to expound and expand the opportunities to be all each individual has the capabilities to become throughout our extended life spans.

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This entry was posted on June 22, 2011 by in Acting, Exploring Objectification, Talking.

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