Sexual Objectification and Me
I cut my jeans into skimpy shorts, befriended the weed-smoking troublemakers in detention, and ditched the classes I once cared about.
That’s how I rebelled in frustration over a learning disability that I eventually overcame.
In the meantime, my self-esteem came from self-objectification: Reducing myself to my body while neglecting the rest of me. Read the rest of this entry
I Look Sexy, But I Don’t Feel Pleasure
I recently talked about “spectatoring” — watching yourself have sex instead of enjoying pleasure.
After surveying my women students I learned that three-quarters spent at least some of their time in bed distracted by how they looked. Most worried that they weren’t “hot” enough. And most also said that their concerns harmed their sexual experience to some degree.
But some women did think they were attractive. In fact, when I surveyed students about the last time they had sex, one young woman replied, “I think I looked pretty good.” Read the rest of this entry
The Breast Fetish Distracts From Sex
The breast fetish makes sex super-hot, right?
It can actually hurt both men’s and women’s sexual experience.
Sounds counterintuitive. But consider this: Read the rest of this entry
Women Distracted By “How They Look” In Bed
“Spectatoring” is the word Masters and Johnson used to describe watching yourself have sex instead of being swept up in sexual pleasure.
You aren’t in the game, you are watching from the sidelines — present and absent all at once.
To get a sense of how commonly young women get distracted, I asked this survey question:
A Sex Object Not Enjoying Sex
It’s not unusual these days for a young woman to become preoccupied with how attractive she looks, habitually seeing herself through her partner’s eyes, and judging herself based on what she thinks he thinks. In other words, to self-objectify.
Instead of enjoying sex.
I’ve talked with friends about the phenomenon and a couple of them have opened up and told me their stories. Like “Sophie,” who let me relate her story in my blog. Read the rest of this entry
Sexy = Sexual?
When people talk about sexuality, they sometimes confuse looking sexy with being sexual.
At least when it comes to women.
You see a sexy woman and assume that she is sexual. When you don’t know anything about how she actually enjoys her experience in bed. Maybe she is just looking hot but not feeling hot. Read the rest of this entry
Sex Objects Who Don’t Enjoy Sex
Sexual objectification can have its perks in the bedroom, with breast fetishes and butt fetishes heightening men’s arousal.
But surprisingly, it can have the opposite effect, harming both men’s and women’s enjoyment. And in many ways. Here’s one: self-objectification. Read the rest of this entry
Sex Objects Who Don’t Enjoy Sex
Sexualizing women can have its perks in the bedroom, with breast fetishes and butt fetishes heightening men’s arousal.
But surprisingly, sexualizing women can have the opposite effect, harming both men’s and women’s enjoyment. And in many ways. Here’s one: self-objectification.
Drowning in “sexy women” images, men and women can both come to see women as the sexy half of the species. So what happens in bed? Because men aren’t seen as especially sexy (at least by comparison) men are focused on women and women can be focused on themselves.
Caroline Heldman, assistant professor at Occidental College, found that some women become preoccupied with how they look instead of the sexual experience. “One young woman I interviewed described sex as being an ‘out of body’ experience,” she said. “She viewed herself through the eyes of her lover, and, sometimes, through the imaginary lens of a camera shooting a porn film.”
Sounds a bit like Paris Hilton: “My boyfriends say I’m sexy but not sexual,” she mused. “Being ‘hot’ is a pose, an act, a tool, and entirely divorced from either physical pleasure or romantic love.”
Heldman feels that girls and women are learning to eroticize male sexual pleasure as though it were their own. She feels they need to explore their sexuality in more empowering and satisfying ways than this vicarious act.
Cultural theorist Jackson Katz has similar concerns. “Many young women are now engaged in sex acts with men that prioritize the man’s pleasure,” he reflects, “with little or no expectation of reciprocity.”
When having sex, these young women may be enjoying themselves, and how great they look. They may gain a boost to self-esteem as they dwell on their “hotness.” But they’re not enjoying sex.
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