This is the first part in a series about how girls and women can navigate a culture that treats them like sex objects.
Around since the 1970s and associated with curmudgeonly second-wave feminists, the phrase “sexual objectification” can inspire eye-rolling. The phenomenon, however, is more rampant than ever in popular culture, and we now know that it causes real harm.
What is sexual objectification? If objectification is the process of representing or treating a person like an object, then sexual objectification is the process of representing or treating a person like a sex object, one that serves another’s sexual pleasure.
How do we know sexual objectification when we see it? Building on the work of Nussbaum and Langton, I’ve devised the Sex Object Test (SOT) to measure the presence of sexual objectification in images. I proprose that sexual objectification is present if the answer to any of the following seven questions is “yes”:
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