Date Written

4-2015

Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name

Psychology-BA

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Dr. Michele Acker

First Committee Member

Dr. Michele Acker

Second Committee Member

Dr. Tammy Birk

Third Committee Member

Louise Captein

Keywords

Women, Gender Studies, Self-Objectification, Body Image, Post-Feminism, Sexual Objectification

Subject Categories

Gender and Sexuality | Psychology

Abstract

Objectification is a central concept in feminist theories surrounding the oppression of women. When objectification occurs, a woman is perceived and treated as a body or a collection of body parts for others to evaluate or utilize for their own pleasure (Bartky, 1990; Fredrickson & Roberts, 1998). Research has shown that women socialized in patriarchal cultures internalize their objectification with negative psychological consequences (Tiggemann & Lynch, 2001; Noll & Fredrickson, 1998; Fredrickson, et al., 1998). This study explored the subjective experiences of women in the context of a culture that generally perpetuates a post-feminist sensibility. Six women participated in semi-structured interviews with questions regarding self-objectification, physical activity, self-valuation, self-efficacy and the experience of having a female gendered body.

Results demonstrated that the women in the sample experienced self-objectification and an awareness of being observed, strove for physical attractiveness and had conflicting values regarding the function and appearance of their bodies.

Evidence of self-objectification also manifested as a lack of or complication of self-efficacy in terms of physical activity and how they were evaluated within a specific activities subculture. The participants also displayed mental processes of positive and negative self-talk similar to that of individuals with anxiety disorders. These systems of positive and negative self-talk were generally active in during the women’s self-evaluation of their appearances.

The narratives provided in this study demonstrate the pervasiveness of objectification, and the negative effects as documented by previous studies, and provides support for theories regarding the status of women’s subjectivity within an oppressive culture.

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