objectification : treating someone as an object rather than a person
sexualisation : to make sexual
pornification : the influence of pornographg on attitudes, behaviour and culture
Objectification, sexualisation and pornification … we’re soaking in it! You don’t need to look too far to see this is true. A short stroll through a shopping centre, a flick through any magazine or catalogue, 3 minutes of online activity, or one episode of a TV show and you will be bombarded with images and messages that carry these themes.
These are some of the causes behind an alarming rise in domestic violence, assaults and sexual assaults, reported sexual activity and sexual regret, sexual addiction, young women presenting with health issues relating to aggressive sexual acts, erectile dysfunction in younger males, sexual addiction and related consequences (including financial, relational and career) … and the list could go on.
“The standard we walk past is the standard we set.” Melinda Tankard Reist
Education and awareness are key. We can shift attitudes and change our culture by increasing our alertness and sensitivity to the examples of exploitation, objectification and sexualisation we see around us.
We need to start asking more questions and developing our capacity to translate subtle (and not so subtle) messages in images and language that might otherwise be accepted as common place.
This image is of an activity conducted with youth. You can see the questions … “where is this lady’s head?” “Why isn’t she wearing a watch?” “Why is she so scantily clad to ask the guy for a date?”
The absence of a lady’s head is objectification. We don’t need to know who you ARE, we just need to use your body to make a point. The lady modelling for the watch brand is a gold medal winning athlete – she is shown neither for a talent other than her beauty or even wearing the watch that is so keeping with her ‘dedication to perfection’.
The old adage that “sex sells” is true – it must be for advertising agencies to continue to use those themes in their campaigns. But at what cost? What are the messages that we are consuming and allowing to shape our cultural understandings of human dignity and the value of people? What of the ongoing consequences for decreasing respect and distorted understandings of sexuality and intimacy?
Time for action : what conversations do you need to start or understandings can you expand to raise your awareness of objectification, sexualisation and pornification in our culture? How can we empower our younger generations to reject the normalisation of these perspectives?
[see collectiveshout.org to add your voice to advocacy efforts]