anger makes me a modern girl
January 10, 2017 11:58 AM   Subscribe

"[T]he present study indicates that anger is the mechanism underlying women's proactive responses." Objecting to Objectification: Women's Collective Action against Sexual Objectification on Television [full text PDF]

👊 Objects Don't Object: Evidence That Self-Objectification Disrupts Women's Social Activism [full text PDF]
These findings suggest that trait and state self-objectification may be part of a wider pattern of system-justifying behavior that maintains gender inequality and thwarts women's pursuit of social justice.
👊 Integrating Sexual Objectification With Object Versus Person Recognition: The Sexualized-Body Inversion Hypothesis [full text PDF]
Consistent with our hypothesis, our findings showed that the inversion effect emerged only when participants saw sexualized males. This suggests that, at a basic cognitive level, sexualized men were perceived as persons, whereas sexualized women were perceived as objects. Future research should examine why people perceive sexualized women as objects.
👊 Seeing women as objects: The sexual body part recognition bias [full text PDF]
[A]n extensive literature in cognitive psychology suggests that global processing underlies person recognition, whereas local processing underlies object recognition. Integrating these literatures, we introduced and tested the sexual body part recognition bias hypothesis that women's (versus men's) bodies would be reduced to their sexual body parts in the minds of perceivers. Specifically, we adopted the parts versus whole body recognition paradigm, which is a robust indicator of local versus global processing. The findings across two experiments showed that women's bodies were reduced to their sexual body parts in perceivers' minds.
Previously: objectification and its effects on women
posted by amnesia and magnets (21 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
I was recently talking to my dad about trying to re-engage with Science Fiction and Fantasy after a long hiatus, since all my introductions were HUGELY problematic.

He agreed, with the bizarre conclusion that he couldn't go back to Terry Pratchett. But he's been delighted by revisiting Piers Anthony and Robert Aspirin. But it's so sexist and demeaning to women! Stop policing my preferences!

I have been unpacking the personal consequences of being raised in that environment. It's helpful to also see the larger social ramifications of that environment not being limited to one sexist dad.
posted by politikitty at 12:45 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]

The first link is really interesting stuff: I've read a little bit about situations that are more or less likely to spur collective action. This and the other stuff make me think that there is a lot of unconscious bias against collective action that I've internalized, which leads to a mindset like "it's one thing to admit that sexism/racism/etc. are real, but to start protesting about it? That's a bit of an overreaction, don't you think?" And anything that can reinforce that kind of reaction is a great tool for those who are against changing the status quo.
posted by skewed at 12:56 PM on January 10

Wow, that previously gets horrifying like less than 10 comments in.

Great post, thank you.
posted by schadenfrau at 1:17 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]

...Piers Anthony more sexist than Terry Pratchett? What?

(Robert Aspirin I'm sure has some godawful moments that escape me. I mostly just remember in the Myth series where Massha, the double-plus-sized woman, ended up one of the most intelligent and empathic of Skeeve's compatriots, and also the only one I can think of who ended up happily coupled up with anyone. And also Skeeve repeatedly getting owned in multiple different plotlines by women banking on men underestimating them in various sexualized or infantilizing ways and him falling for it completely until they decided he was nice and let him in on the gag.)
posted by Scattercat at 2:25 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]

Piers Anthony is just embarrassing.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:48 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]

Piers Anthony isn't embarrassing, he's horrifying.
posted by Lexica at 2:53 PM on January 10 [18 favorites]

...Piers Anthony more sexist than Terry Pratchett? What?

Is that a typo? Because Pratchett could have done a discworld adaptation of "The Game" and still wouldn't be as sexist as Anthony.
posted by idiopath at 3:08 PM on January 10 [9 favorites]

Thanks for this, keen to read.
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:19 PM on January 10

To end the derail, I'm not sure why my dad doesn't like rereading Pratchet. But he finds the sexism in Anthony and Aspirin to be delightful and fun. He felt that my denigration of those authors is akin to the Christian Right shaming porn and sex workers.
posted by politikitty at 3:31 PM on January 10

I'm currently revisiting Piers Anthony's Xanth series (I wanted something fluffy to listen to at bed time, and my boyfriend happened to have the audio books). I remembered the odd preoccupation with women's panties and some silliness with "naughty" words. But the sexism and objectification are so so much more blatant and unpleasant than I expected.

I'm kind of amazed my Dad considered that acceptable reading, never mind acceptable reading for a 9 year old girl. My Mom is a die-hard feminist and activist who took me to see Gloria Steinham speak live when I was 13, so I can only assume she had NO idea what I was reading.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 4:09 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]

To end the derail, I'm not sure why my dad doesn't like rereading Pratchet.

If he's anything like my dad, he put down Men at Arms as soon as it became obvious that gonnes are inherently evil and refused to read anything Pratchett ever wrote again.
posted by Etrigan at 4:21 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]

Ana Mardoll revisited Piers Anthony's work starting here: Xanth: We Need To Talk About Piers Anthony.
So after my FSoG post, I ended up in a conversation with a friend about the Xanth series, and I realized that we are long overdue for a Piers Anthony discussion. Xanth is one of those series that is difficult to explain to newcomers because its popularity is undeniable (I myself devoured the books readily when I was a youngster) and yet they are super-rapey.
posted by Lexica at 4:26 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]

The findings across two experiments showed that women's bodies were reduced to their sexual body parts in perceivers' minds.

Which reminds me strongly of Piers Anthony's writing. I can see why some people (especially men of a certain age) find it funny and playful, but this gets to the subject/object distinction above -- it's fun to play with toys, but not necessarily as much fun to be told you are the toy.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:06 PM on January 10 [7 favorites]

Ooh, this is an interesting point in the first link:
...benevolent sexism undermines women’s engagement in collective action, whereas exposure to blatant hostile sexism increases it because women become less inclined to justify the gender system (Becker and Wright 2011).
Paper here [PDF].
posted by thetortoise at 5:37 PM on January 10 [11 favorites]

Well, I wonder if reading Piers Anthony book angers women to collective action? the study results seems intuitive, yes? that information about the injustices of the world will generally anger people to action? Is the take away from the article that the men did not respond?
posted by eustatic at 5:42 PM on January 10

xanth: come for the terrible puns, stay for the bewilderingly perverse sexual undertones

and overtones

and behindertones
posted by murphy slaw at 5:53 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]

Y'all know you can make a FPP on fantasy authors, right? You totally can.

Anyway, from the second link:
It seems that once the lens of self-objectification is in place, women become less likely to object to the system that constructs and sustains this harmful lens. Women’s bodies effectively become the site for system justification.
But they also say self-objectification decreases with age.
posted by thetortoise at 5:59 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]

I realize that objectification of women is way more pervasive than just shitty fantasy authors.

But it feels very judgey to tell women they're sharing the wrong anecdotes about their earliest and most intimate struggles with objectification in media.
posted by politikitty at 6:33 PM on January 10 [8 favorites]

From link #2, n=50, sample selected from Wesleyan Collage, psychology department flyer. I enjoyed the author's reasoning, but replication outside of that cultural milleu will obviously be problematic.
posted by mrdaneri at 6:52 PM on January 10

My earliest realization of it came when I read "War and Peace." Sonya Rostova has the courage to help her cousin Natasha, make choices no one else supports, and yet is painted as this... poor contemptible object... His portrayal of Natasha is the flip side, basically "watch this [objectifying descriptions] woman behave impulsively and become honorable because she devotes herself to men, gets married and has kids." In other words: the courageous individual who makes her own choices is contemptible, but the objectified archetype of fluttering emotional womanhood reflected only through her time given to men is idealized. Lesson to women: STFU and take care of men. I was twelve years old. I'd been looking forward to reading Tolstoy, and yet even at that age I figured out the portrayals were problematic. But imagine. Imagine being an impressionable young woman, figuring that out, and immediately realizing that no one ever talks about "War and Peace" in those terms. Certainly not in my circles at the time.

Not long afterwards I read Madame Bovary. God. Flaubert is at least sympathetic to the tragedy of Emma's circonscription, but still. Again. Imagine being a young woman, reading these "great books," and the same theme keeps returning: men are heroes, whether positive or tragic or any other sort. They are actors. Women, when they're written about, are there to act as foils for men. Including when they don't, so they can be ridiculed. Even when they are tragic, it is due to men.

One of the reasons I kept studying literature was a sort of desperate search for women, any women, who were actors in their stories. True women heroines. It's a huge reason I ended up studying mythology. There are of course women who are actors in their stories in modern and contemporary literature. But what about historical? You have to go back thousands of years to find ideas of archetypes of women who lived their own lives.
posted by fraula at 6:29 AM on January 11 [11 favorites]

Even when I was 12 I cringed at Piers Anthony's puerile shit. I read it though, because I was 12. But fuck that guy.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:12 PM on January 11

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