His & Hers Objectification

Check out the side-by-side comparisons that show how strange it is when women and men get the same sex object treatment:

Women don’t seem to objectify men the way men do women.

It’s not that we’re any better. We just aren’t bombarded by a steady stream of sexualized and fetishized men and man-parts — that unconsciously seep into our brains. Thus, when men are turned into sex objects, it can look ridiculous.

But why’s objectification a problem?

Isn’t sexual allure an asset? Making women feel valued? Raising their self-esteem? Making it easier to meet and get guys, and sex?

A lot of guys think so. Many wish women saw them the way they see women.

Well, all of the above CAN be true… the allure, the ease of getting sex… But there’s a downside.

side-by-side objectification

side-by-side objectification

Most obviously, plenty of women feel like they don’t meet sex object standards, and that can make them feel unvalued and it can lower their self-esteem.

For some reason a lot of guys think they would be immune to that.

Or, we may be ignored as our partners drool over someone else. (He’s grown used to seeing “me” so “they” seem more exciting.)

If tables turned, guys don’t think this would happen to them?

Or, maybe guys drool over us now but in a few years we will be ignored as all eyes fall on someone younger while we disappear. It’s one reason why women are generally more fearful of aging than men.

Or, being stared at can be uncomfortable or even creepy. It can be unsettling to be looked over like a piece of meat. You become a thing. Your personality disappears. You aren’t taken seriously or seen as intelligent. And while your looks matter, you don’t.

And that’s a reason why some women welcome aging.

And sure, it’s easier to get sex, but a lot of women want a whole lot more. Most of us want emotional connection, so it’s not so great to feel like a “thing” that exists for someone else’s pleasure. Or to feel like he is a Subject who sees me as an Object.

Sexy is fine, so long as you can see the whole person. So long as you don’t think that other people (objects, really) exist to sexually satisfy you. So long as “sexy” isn’t seen as just one narrow body type. So long as men can appreciate beautiful women without being embarrassing, creepy or hurtful.

But these sorts of images can make that more difficult to do.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on August 6, 2014, in body image, feminism, gender, men, objectification, psychology, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. Objectification is so destructive- esp. when it is internalized and we seek to objectify ourselves because that’s where we think our value lives. I think there would be healthier emotional and mental health in the world if we were able to eradicate objectification.

  2. Nice article. Though I think it is too “womancentric.” Two things,…

    First, you stated:

    “And sure, it’s easier to get sex, but a lot of women want a whole lot more. Most of us want emotional connection, so it’s not so great to feel like a “thing” that exists for someone else’s pleasure. Or to feel like he is a Subject who sees me as an Object.”

    Question: When you say a “lot”, are we talking majority? most? etc? If only a minority of women feel this way, then your assertion is without merit..

    Second, you also stated,

    “So long as “sexy” isn’t seen as just one narrow body type. So long as men can appreciate beautiful women without being embarrassing, creepy or hurtful.”

    I think this is exactly how many of us men feel with so many women possessing a very narrow view of male attraction. This word “creepy” is the new word used to shame a lot of men. It is not that the men are creepy. Rather, often it is that the men are unattractive (the majority of us in most women’s eyes) that makes him a “creep.”

    Lastly, women themselves are opting to become over sexualized in dress and appearance. Whether it is the media, advertising……it is fact. So, if a woman is making herself a sexual object, it is difficult to blame a guy for objectifying her so long as he is not rude, crude, etc. No?

    So, when you look at the big picture, I do not believe it is as simple as you make it.

    • Womancentric? Well that makes sense since in this post I’m trying to help men understand how women feel, and I’m trying to help women think a bit more deeply about themselves. Some of my posts are directed more toward women and some are directed more toward men.

      On your first question I said, “Most.” So yes, the majority. Research repeatedly finds that the vast majority of women want emotional connection. (Interestingly, the majority of men do, too. But if you look at emotional outcomes from casual sex men seem to be less harmed on average. That may have to do with things like slut-shaming that men rarely experience.) So I guess the assertion has plenty of merit.

      On your second point, there are much less narrow standards for what’s considered attractive with a guy. Women can be a normal healthy weight and can be perceived as being heavy. Men can be above average weight and be considered just fine. It’s also impossible for women to achieve the skinny plus big boobs look. Or skinny plus big boobs + big butt look. Men don’t have impossible standards to achieve. But we are approaching more difficult body issues for men. See these:

      David Beckham’s Sex Sells
      https://broadblogs.com/2012/02/06/david-beckhams-sex-sells/
      Objectifying Men’s Bodies for Profit
      https://broadblogs.com/2014/02/24/objectifying-mens-bodies-for-profit/

      And the fact is that it is creepy to be stared at, whether you are a woman or man, and whether you are attractive or not. I grew up hearing, “It’s impolite to stare.” See these posts for instance:

      Why Don’t Women Like To Be Ogled?
      https://broadblogs.com/2014/03/10/why-dont-women-like-to-be-ogled/
      Why Women Dress Sexy
      https://broadblogs.com/2014/06/09/why-women-dress-sexy/

      And I am critiquing the sexualization of women regardless of who is doing it–whether men are objectifying women or whether women are objectifying themselves. More posts on the latter:

      Sexual Objectification, What is it?
      https://broadblogs.com/2012/11/26/sexual-objectification-what-is-it/
      Sexual Objectification, The Harm
      https://broadblogs.com/2012/12/19/sexual-objectification-the-harm/
      4 Daily Rituals to Stop Objectification
      https://broadblogs.com/2013/02/11/4-daily-rituals-to-stop-objectification/
      Stop Objectifying Yourself: 4 Daily Rituals to Start
      https://broadblogs.com/2013/05/29/stop-objectifying-yourself-4-daily-rituals/

      Scrutinizing My Body Takes All My Time
      https://broadblogs.com/2012/03/05/scrutinizing-my-body-takes-all-my-time/
      Sex Objects Who Don’t Enjoy Sex
      https://broadblogs.com/2011/03/02/sex-objects-who-don%e2%80%99t-enjoy-sex/

      • Thanks for you wonderful reply. I did not mean to offend by the “womancentric” remark.

        I think most men today are really craving for some form of respect from women as opposed to creep shaming. Just my observation.

        Having two sisters, I am acutely sensitive to episodes of where men are nasty, rude, and obnoxious to women.

        Yes, I do agree with you on your point of how too many men think the ultimate beauty standard is “tits on a stick” for women. I am African American (i prefer Black). I see far less of this in the Black community. Here, the issue is one of hair believe it or not. This lead women to wearing hair weaves which ultimately damage their hair over time. Frankly within 10-15 years these women exhibit receding hair lines and thining of their hair. Thanks God more and more Black women are opting for the natural look. I love it! They are so beautiful.

        What is really hypocritical is this: according to the CDC 2/3 of all American are overweight. Which mean men too. So, how is that overweight men think they have the right and audacity to demand skinny women when he himself is fat! Talk about craziness!

        Thanks for indulging me.

        I do like your blog very much as well your open and honest views.

        Keep up the great work!

        PS: I would like to share this with you. She is really on point here.

      • Love Caroline and her work to help young women understand that objectifying themselves isn’t empowering.

        I give up trying to insert the correct link. I tried to insert it myself, too.

        For anyone who wants to check it out, the name of the link is, “The sexy lie: Caroline Heldman at TEDxYouth”

    • It’s not just women, it’s human beings in general want more than just sex. Otherwise we would be simple but we’re not, we’re complex beings.

      “This word “creepy” is the new word used to shame a lot of men. It is not that the men are creepy. Rather, often it is that the men are unattractive (the majority of us in most women’s eyes) that makes him a “creep.”

      The argument you just made above seems like a way to absolve men from having to take responsibility for their actions. Try listening to women when they tell you what behavior makes them uncomfortable and then try to change. Anytime women speak up about this on any forum, I’ve noticed a lot of men start making excuses and then tell women how they should feel and/or end with how it’s all about the dudes hotness. They’re completely unwilling to take responsibility and even consider that it actually might be what they’re doing that creeps women out. Stop trying to put the blame on the woman! What you’re really saying is, “oh you didn’t like my advances towards you, so it must be because you don’t find me attractive and that’s also YOUR fault. You’re vilifying women for wanting to be with a partner they’re physically attracted to and having the audacity to feel different from what you would want them to.
      From my own experience, women i’ve talked to and hundreds of women who speak about this on forums have stated that if a guy is being creepy then, the way he looks doesn’t change the fact that his behavior is creepy. I’ve heard some women say that it’s actually worse when it’s a guy they find attractive being a creep. I agree with that. If you find him physically attractive then you could’ve actually been interested in him but get put off by him being a creep. So rather than assuming what women think and want, try listening to us. If a woman calls you a creep, recognize that it’s because of your behavior and try to change that so you don’t make more women feel uncomfortable around you. Assuming that whatever you’re doing is totes fine and what women like won’t help your cause. I can assure you, even if she didn’t find you unattractive, she would most likely be just as creeped out.

      “Lastly, women themselves are opting to become over sexualized in dress and appearance. Whether it is the media, advertising……it is fact. So, if a woman is making herself a sexual object, it is difficult to blame a guy for objectifying her”

      Women aren’t becoming oversexualized or objectifying themselves. The only person who has control over this is the viewer. If I see a woman or man in tight revealing clothing, it is up to me to either view that person as a human being or an object. If I see and respect that person as a complete human being first then nothing that person could wear could lead me to objectifying that person. If you don’t respect that person as a complete human being then you can easily dehumanize that person and view him/her as an object. If we didn’t sexualize the female body then seeing a woman in shorts or a V neck won’t be any different from seeing a man.

      • “You’re vilifying women for wanting to be with a partner they’re physically attracted to and having the audacity to feel different from what you would want them to.”

        If what you are saying were true, then why is this word “creepy” tossed around so frequently by women? It is similar to how so many men refer to women as “bitches.” I have no problem whatsoever with a woman finding me unattractive. Usually that is the case. I keep it moving. I too find a lot of women unattractive. Most of them do not take it personally, nor do I call them a name. Let’s just keep it moving.

        Your female friends are being disingenuous. If Tom Brady or some other male hottie/cutie/hunk were to approach the typical women, even if he were being obnoxious, he still would not be labeled a creep. I would dare to say most would even have sex with him!

        Lastly, I do listen to women. That’s the problem! What women say and what women do are two different things. Hence, I simply do more observing than listening. No offence intended.

  3. “A study of where men and women look on a ‘sexy’ advertisement gave a fascinating insight”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2015479/How-men-women-really-look-things-different-light.html#ixzz1SPKO8APt

    Funny enough, the study was about where men and women look on a “sexy” ad that shows a female model. There wasn’t any ads with male models.

    • Interesting link. Thanks.

      And since “sexy” means women in our culture, I guess we know why they only looked at sexy women. Would be interesting to see what happens with sexy men.

  4. Now – I have no words, only humbled. You have such powerful titles creating great conversation, I congratulate you!!

  5. The reason why these ads looked strange it was because the male models were average looking but in the original ad the female models were very attractive.
    What if the female models were average looking? That would seem strange too.
    These ads are stereotyped not only by the gender but also by the looks.

    For instance these ads show attractive male models. Do they look strange?
    Especially the first ad, if it was gender-reversed it could be accused of being perverted and sexist for the W.C. scene.



    • I’ve heard the critique before that the reason the women look sexier is because the guys are less attractive, And I tried to determine whether that was true in the video I posted. I didn’t think it was, because some of the girls aren’t that attractive in the original, either. In the still picture I think the girl is a little bit more attractive facially, But not that much. On the other hand, swimwear for women is designed to be more sexually revealing, which is interesting, itself.

      Guys can come across a sex objects but they have more narrow bandwidth. For guys to seem sexy and not weird, or gay, they also have to appear hyper masculine. See this post:

      Do Women See Sexy Men As Sexy?
      https://broadblogs.com/2013/07/16/do-women-see-sexy-men-as-sexy/

      Otherwise, I doubt that to many women would actually masturbate from looking at the sexy clothed guy, But maybe believability isn’t the point. (I can, however, imagine women making him the center of a romanticized fantasy, and get into masturbation that way.)

      • We have men and women consider women as more sexy than men and that the male body isn’t fetishized. So women aren’t visually when it comes to the male body.
        Does that mean that most of the straight women would be indifferent watching a video like this? They wouldn’t be sexually attracted to men with that kind of good looks?

      • Definitely not indifferent. And there’s a difference between being sexy and objectified. I can’t imagine a straight woman not finding this guy sexy and attractive. The fact that he looks hyper masculine helps him to not seem gay (See the other comment I wrote you on that.)

        So yeah women will definitely find him attractive and it’ll be a turn on. But our psychology hasn’t been affected in the same way that male psychology has by being bombarded by the sort of thing, making us tend to be on the constant lookout for this sort of thing, ignoring our partners, feeling like men exist for our sexual pleasure, etc. Not because we are better human beings, but we don’t live in a world that affects our psychology that way– At least not yet.

  6. I think some of it may be that women just simply aren’t fixated like men so they aren;t going to search out or spend time looking up naked me. However, what I’m discovering is that, I think women are more visual toward men’s bodies in a sexual way and aroused than though or maybe they hide or deny or don’t let out. It may be to being comfortable with their sexuality, but it seems some older women actually seem to be more sexual than girls and it might be due to the sexual peak which I though was in the 30s for women or something or maybe through time, getting past insecurities and things they cared about when young.

    All I know is that I’ve seen more than the “he;s hot” comment that you see from girls with a pic of a hot guy. Well unfortunately I saw this, but I have facebook like many people and plenty of friends on it, but I do have family members as fb friends too, which all of my friends do too, pretty common. Random newsfeeds pop up from different friends. Well the other day I see a picture on the newfeed posted from my aunt. And it was some hunky dude back facing, out in the water in with a fishing pole in hand and fishing gear. Wearing rubbers up his leg, but bare butt. And she said how she wanted to go fishing, ha, there was something more to it, just don’t remember. And I wish I didn’t see it. I know women have drives too, but being her nephew I’d rather not see her comments and my aunt ogling and being probalby turned on by the guy, but it was right there on my newsfeed.

    But anyway, I doubt she’s outlier and pretty much like most women. And there were like 10 other comments from her gfs on fb making comments about his trout or being pervy about his body and reference to his dick though not out right. A wow comment and one teasing how, what would her mother think and she commented how her mother would come along ha. It’s amazing the double standard facebook has. Didn’t seem like such a picture would be alllowed to be shown, but because its a man, it was fine. Though I don’t think the same pic of a woman’s bare ass shown would be allowed on facebook and would be blocked.

    • Women can definitely appreciate a sexy man, but even when they objectify they are often “playing at” objectifying: trying to take the role of subject and demeaning men as object. A lot of women talk about doing this because they want to turn the tables. And I often talk about how it ends up feeling like they’re only playing at it, not doing it in the way that men do it.

      When you live in a culture that doesn’t objectify men, it doesn’t seep into your psyche and so it’s hard to authentically do it.

      And yes, women’s sexuality tends to become less repressed with time, but because of the amount of repressing out there, On average it never gets to the same level as men.

  7. Oh yeah and last year, another woman posted a picture of adam levine in a sexualized picture pose. And there were like 50 comments all of women posting about it. And I get that some became fans of him thus the reason. But many commenting know who he is, but aren’t like crushing or smitten about him because hes a musician, but simply because they find him hot and the picture apparently was a turn on.

    this is the picture I’m talking about

    I don’t think its adam levine actually, These aren’t exceptions and women the bell curve, but regular women. and there were like 50 comments and many of them, with them saying all the stuff they won;t mention that came to their mind or stuff they’d like to do to him. It wasn’t one woman, but many. Which maybe not literally how men are to women, but there had to be some turn on or arousal to get pervy as I don’t think they were pretending but were a little flustered from the pic and were having sexual thoughts of him cross their mind, which to have that there has to be some arousal.

    • John Claude posted a video somewhere in this thread where the guys look very masculine/sexy, whereas this pose looks slightly gay to me — probably because the pose looks something like how women are more typically posed, than men. It’s an odd combination of hyper masculine and feminine that’s just kind of weird. After looking at this picture that you linked to, I’d probably want to comment, too, because you practically can’t not comment. And I would probably want to do it in an objectifying manner, because I would feel actually a lot of pressure to do it — it’s so provocative that you feel like you can’t. But I have a hard time seeing this guy as sexy, because I find it more puzzling — and I’m distracted by my puzzlement at the mix of male/female. Whereas I find it easy to find John Claude’s pictures sexy. (Obviously, given my politics I probably wouldn’t actually comment the way the women typically do, But I would feel a lot of pressure to.)

      • “(Obviously, given my politics I probably wouldn’t actually comment the way the women typically do, But I would feel a lot of pressure to.)”

        Funny! Yes, you women are far far more explicit in your discussions with one another than we men. But, it’s all good and OK:)

      • At least on more public forums. Probably because it’s not considered as politically incorrect.

  8. “but even when they objectify they are often “playing at” objectifying: trying to take the role of subject and demeaning men as object. A lot of women talk about doing this because they want to turn the tables. And I often talk about how it ends up feeling like they’re only playing at it, not doing it in the way that men do it.”

    They weren’t pretending, they aren’t fake and have no reason to. As plenty of women say hot or they would’ve said plenty of other things instead. Sure they might not just go have sex right then and there with the guy or like a guy is thinking. BUT, they were perving on him and thinking sexual thoughts and if they met the guy, he’d probably not have to say that much or do much charming her to have these women ready to have sex or think of having sex with him, because of the sexual interest the pictures and bodies sparked for them.

    I’ve seen fake or pretending to objectify, like women watching male strippers, it’s obvious the way they laugh and joke. If it’s admiration, then they REALLY, REALLy admired their bodies.

  9. “Whether or not their sexuality is repressed, they haven’t been taught to objectify male body. So I have my doubts. But we can leave it as an open question.”

    Men are being portrayed more in sexual ways now with their body. Not like women or as often, but definitely more so than in the past. So I think women are seeing sexualized images and getting more used to them, therefore, being able to lust and think sexually toward men;s bodies nowadays, so that could be it.

    • Things are changing. But the “Not as often” part makes a HUGE difference. It really affects the psychology.

      And so does things like how clothing is cut. Like it would be a lot more equivalent if the guy in the picture above was wearing a speedo. But we are so used to thinking of sex objects existing for the male gaze — and women subconsciously learn to see through the male gaze — so that when you put a guy in sexy clothing it looks kind of gay — and not sexy. So it can be a bit of a conundrum.

    • Wow, lust huh.
      I know I can really like the look of a well trained body, whether that body be male of female. But it takes a certain look and context for me to get turned on.
      Personally, I think we should see naked bodies more and without all of the sexual sub-texts. Maybe then it would become less of a “lust and think sexually” thing for both men and women.

  10. I agree with the comment that it would have been even better (in fact much better) if the man had worn a speedo. The size of his shorts acts as a filter somehow (for me). Really liked the text.

    • Yeah, but see what I wrote in my comment to Bob, above.

      • Sorry, I had left your page and just seen another Bob’s comments on facebook. Are really speedos thought of as gay. I don’t think we see things the same way here in Norway and probably in Europe as well. If there is one thing I have seen a lot of on beaches in Spain it is middle-aged men in speedos.

      • Oh yeah, I think in Europe, or parts of it, it’s considered pretty normal for guys to wear Speedo-type swimwear. Not so much here.

  11. I’m glad these kind of pictures and videos are being made to bring more awareness to this issue and being able to actually see it will help make it more clear for people. However, every commercial, picture and music videos I’ve seen with men and women switching roles has failed to create the gender switch properly. I understand not having enough funds is probably a big reason for it though.

    In the commercials above:
    The first one, the original and the role reversal were both pretty bizarre.

    The second one, doesn’t do the role reversal properly at all. The nerdy girl is actually cute and looks like she has a decent physique. The hot guy with her isn’t that much better looking than her. In the original, the nerd is not attractive by any standard, in any way! He also looks fat. The hot woman with him is MUCH MUCH better looking than him. So the role reversal does a very poor job at actually showing us what it would look like if the genders are switched. The two simply don’t show the same thing at all.

    The third one is my favorite. It actually comes pretty close to showing us what it would look like if the roles are switched. However there were couple things they could’ve done to make the role reversal more fair. If the guy had worn a speedo, or even something like boxer briefs, hell i’ll even take sexy rugby shorts over what he wore. Also if he had been more suggestive in the part that’s also in the picture above.

  12. Interesting experiment, a lot of the images do look a bit weird when replaced with a guy!

  13. Tze Ping Chan

    After years and years of brainwash from the media, I think it is fair to say that it’s impossible to entirely change our mindset and judge women solely by their intelligence. Although people nowadays are more aware of the fact that women are being over-sexualized, not many people are willing to take initiative to make a difference. Most of us think this phenomenon is not a “problem” that is urgent enough for the people to actually change it. Our values and beliefs have been through thousands years of transformation in order to become what we have now. So it may probably take another thousand year to change it?
    The way that women are being sexualized may also be the reason why the society is more accepting towards lesbian than gay men. Since you know, if women are sexy, then two women will be twice the amount of sexy. I know that some straight girls use kissing with another girl in the club to attract other guys because they think me would find this sexy. I don’t know what men think of it, but I think doing this to attract people is really weird…

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