A new scientific study has confirmed a generally assumed truth: women are objectified far more than men. But in a surprising development, the study also found that men and women are both equally guilty of looking at women as a “collection of parts.”
“We can’t just pin this on the men. Women are perceiving women this way, too,” Sarah Gervais, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the study’s lead author, told Science Daily. “It could be related to different motives. Men might be doing it because they’re interested in potential mates, while women may do it as more of a comparison with themselves. But what we do know is that they’re both doing it.”
The study results were published in the European Journal of Social Psychology and examined the different ways people process images of men and women. According to the study, men tend to be processed on a “global” level, in which their entire physical being is viewed as a whole. Women tend to be viewed much differently, by what the study calls “local” cognitive processing, in which women are measured as a collection of various body parts.
“Local processing underlies the way we think about objects: houses, cars and so on. But global processing should prevent us from that when it comes to people,” Gervais told Science Daily. “We don’t break people down to their parts — except when it comes to women, which is really striking. Women were perceived in the same ways that objects are viewed.”
But there is some form of equality at work. Not only are men and women equally responsible for viewing women on this “local” level, all different types of women are measured by this same cognitive standard.
Or, as MTV News put it: “Essentially, when looking at a female, we all go into Terminator vision mode, honing in on specific parts of her body and assessing them.”
- How Our Brains Process Images of Men and Women Differently (sciencedaily.com)
- Men seen as whole, women as body parts (cbc.ca)
- Study Finds That Both Genders Process Images Of Men, Women Differently (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Study: Brain Objectifies Women As Body Parts, Men As Whole (stlouis.cbslocal.com)
- How our brains see men as people and women as body parts (scienceblog.com)