Dr Kathleen Stock, University of Sussex
Sexual objectification, perception and images
7 May 2014
On the face of it, to ‘sexually objectify’ someone is to treat them ‘as a sexual object’; but what does this mean, exactly? Within feminist literature on notions of sexual objectification, there are several different approaches to this question. Significant disagreement apparently exists about number of key issues, in a way that seems puzzling given the apparent aim of analyzing a single phenomenon. After describing three prominent sorts of contribution to this field, I will focus on apparent areas of disagreement. I will then argue that the appearance of genuine disagreement here is in fact illusory. This will help clarify both the state of the current debate about the nature of objectification, and my eventual contribution to it. In the final part of my paper, I will argue for a conception of objectification which helps us understand how non-pornographic images can be objectifying: namely, objectification as seeing someone in a way which de-emphasises their minded features.