Men objectify women. But so do women.
July 27, 2012 2 Comments
So, you read the article headline, “Brain see men as whole, women as parts” you think, well sure, that’s because men are objectifying women, but not the opposite. Interestingly, though, this is how both men and women seem to perceive the sexes:
She and her colleagues wondered about the eye of the beholder: Are people really objectifying women more than men?
To find out, the researchers focused on two types of mental processing, global and local. Global processing is how the brain identifies objects as a whole. It tends to be used when recognizing people, where it’s not just important to know the shape of the nose, for example, but also how the nose sits in relation to the eyes and mouth. Local processing focuses more on the individual parts of an object. You might recognize a house by its door alone, for instance, while you’re less likely to recognize a person’s arm without the benefit of seeing the rest of their body.
If women are sexually objectified, people should process their bodies in a more local way, focusing on individual body parts like breasts…
[experimental methods--seemed good to me-- excerpted]
The results showed a clear schism between the images of men and women. When viewing female images, participants were better at recognizing individual parts than they were matching whole-body photographs to the originals. The opposite was true for male images: People were better at recognizing a guy as a whole than they were his individual parts.
People were also better at discerning women’s individual body parts than they were at men’s individual body parts, further confirming the local processing, or objectification, that was happening.
“It’s both men and women doing this to women,” Gervais said. “So don’t blame the men here.”
There could be evolutionary reasons that men and women process female bodies differently, Gervais said, but because both genders do it, “ the media is probably a prime suspect.”
Interesting. I’m inclined to think that even absent media influences, men will view women in this way, but it is the general culture we live in that encourages not just men, but women as well, to see women as a collection of parts. Also, the article linked to this very disturbing study:
Psychologists at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., used paper dolls to assess self-sexualization in 6- to 9-year-old girls. Sixty girls were shown two dolls, one dressed in tight and revealing “sexy” clothes and the other wearing a trendy but covered-up, loose outfit.
Using a different set of dolls for each question, the researchers then asked each girl to choose the doll that: looked like herself, looked how she wanted to look, was the popular girl in school, she wanted to play with.
Across-the-board, girls chose the “sexy” doll most often. The results were significant in two categories: 68 percent of the girls said the doll looked how she wanted to look, and 72 percent said she was more popular than the non-sexy doll.
Now, that’s just depressing.