I really would like to see an article some day that was on Objectification which actually addressed what it means, as it was designed and written about by the authors of the framework theorem in 1997.It would be so nice to see because it would be such a clear sign that we were dropping the weapons and taking steps to heal wounds. I get all of the confusion of this issue, I really do. I understand, but I lack understanding of why it persists over and over without reaching for the sources.
Barbara L. Fedrickson, a psychologist, and Tomi-Ann Roberts, also a psychologist were the authors of Objectification theory. They came up with it in 1997. Reading the paper they published on this subject .. is disconcerting to me but somehow liberating for many women. They came to this theory through the suggestion that the human body is constructed (physically built) not only through biological changes of growth and environment, but through sociocultural practices and discourse. — so to break this down and reiterate what we are agreeing to — The female body,, as she walks through her day, collects and stores the negativity and sexual description, as well as the denoted value directed at her from the mouths of men, the posters on the wall, the cat-calls from the street, and the commercials on her TV. These energies churn in her and not only affect her mentally, but express themselves physically – bending her back, stooping her shoulders and sinking her eyes. That is the core of Objectification theory.
Now.. first of all, no, you can not objectify a man. The theory only describes the effects to a woman. Men are not arranged and developed by their environments or how you act toward them. If you say to a man “You’re a f-*ing sexist pig” it hurts.It bothers us. We will evaluate ourselves, take stock. Pause perhaps. But you are not altering us by these words. Nor do we objectify each other, or ourselves.
Second.. Objectification is only a framework theorem. It is not even a full theory,and no empirical data has ever been collected to move it forward. None needs to be gathered. It is a framework.It is .. well .. like a box you can safely play with other toys inside, without having to understand them completely. It is a Virtual World of sorts. As a framework it still assists researcher to this day. Over 1800 papers have been written using this framework. It is considered very valuable. But it does’t describe anything that is going on in the real world. You are not being objectified. It doesn’t work that way.
So, the next year, after its publication, Nita May Mckinley published –“Gender Differences, in an undergraduate body esteem. The mediating effect of objectified body consciousness and actual/ideal weight discrepancy — Sex Roles 39 1-2 —” That was basically a horror story which tried to use the publication as if it were gods law on how the female body performed in social environments. I can’t imagine reading that and believing that was happening to me — would have scarred me for life. But then came Banishing the Beast, and A Mind of Ones Own, followed later with a clear left hook coming in from “Jane sexes it up: True confessions of feminist desire” by. Merri Lisa Johnson Now.. that is a mix for absolute confusion — if you don’t realize that Objectification Therory is not what you have been hearing in the magazines or at the coffee shop.
Most of the studies reaching back for the Objectification Theory are along the lines of Body Image Dissatisfaction and Depressive Symptoms. All of the ones I read show that the women,( both heterosexual and lesbian) find dissatisfaction with their bodies, and are more nervous about how they look if they believe they will soon begin a position of being judged, but all of them only show these as being limited in depth, and in effect. An increase in active friendships, an increase in exercise, moral support, a loving relationship , all banish these feelings away like mist. Over and over again the framework offers a stable place to posit an idea from, but not a place available to land back down on. The internalization expected from the description of Objectification, simply doesn’t materialize into a physical or mentally altering state. It just doesn’t happen.
No empirical data is ever gathered.
Tomi-Ann Roberts (one of the authors) returned to Colorado College, with much different ideas on her mind, most of them going toward the essay of Rebecca Walker.
Roberts does three papers after publishing Objectification, which attempt to clarify the theory for her, but wind up pulling her down an unexpected direction. Then, in the Handbook of Experimental Existential Psychology Roberts gives us a glimpse and then a flood of this unexpected direction the work has led her too. (p.78)
… according to the position that we have provided, objectification of women serves an important existential function — it strips them of their creaturely connection and thus provides psychic protection from the threat of death. Thus it is not surprising that women objectify other women, additionally , it is also not surprising that women also objectify their own bodies, a phenomenon referred to as “self-objectification” and demonstrated by numerous studies …”
The 180 degree turn on what objectification is, and what it means, and who it means it too, is quite radical. However Roberts in her return to Colorado will hold on to these ideas, as well as refining them. It is always a noteworthy trait of a researcher to be able to drop their preconceived ideas and accept the direction further research reveals. It is unfortunate this trait is not as prevalent as it could be.
I do hope this clears some things up for you, because the way I have observed some women damaging themselves over the misconceptions prevalent on this topic, is very disturbing.