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Sexual objectification causes problems for women

Women as sexual objects
Women as sexual objects
Pixabay/Freephoto

The act of sexual objectification, or treating a woman simply as an instrument of sexual pleasure, can cause serious problems for women. The sexual pressure and coercion for women in such circumstances is clearly very troubling.Being objectived clearly creates sexual pressure for women who are in heterosexual relationships reported Psychology of Women Quarterly.

The objectification of women has been recognized as being widespread, and yet there has been relatively little research on objectification which occurs in romantic relationships. Researchers have now explored how partner sexual objectification might be associated with sexual pressure and coercion for women in heterosexual relationships.

The objectification of women deals with focusing on her body in terms of how it can offer sexual pleasure instead of viewing the woman as a complete human being who has thoughts and feelings reports Sage Publications in a discussion of this research. Objectification has long been viewed as being a problem in the media, however how this affects individual romantic relationships has not previously been well studied.

The researchers have found that increased objectification of a female partner’s body is associated with higher incidents of sexual pressure and coercion. It was observed that men who often objectify their partner’s bodies by excessively focusing on their appearance are more likely to have feelings of shame about the shape and size of their partner’s body. This in turn is associated with increased sexual pressure and sexual coercion, both in general and via violence and manipulation.

It is the feelings of the researchers that creating a greater awareness of how and when one thinks of their partner as an object, whether sexually or otherwise, may assist relationship partners to avoid sexual pressure and coercion and improve communication and respect within their relationship. It was supported by the data from this study that women internalize objectification from their partners.

This internalization has been found to be associated with feelings of shame about their bodies and a lowering of asserting themselves and expressing what they do and do not feel comfortable about doing sexually. An acknowledgement of objectification in their relationships may help women understand when they lack power over their own will and allow them to resist and avoid sexual pressure. This could also lead to greater sexual pleasure for women as they work to gain control over their own desires.

The researchers are right to imply activists should continue to pursue their work aimed at reducing the objectification of women in our culture. One way to do this is via the recognition and removal of objectifying images in the media. Because male objectification of women has been found to be more common than female objectification of men, the burden is on men to reduce objectification and sexual violence.