For generations, women have raised concerns about how objectification contributes to street harassment, unwanted workplace sexual attention, and sexual violence. The practice of treating women like sexual objects in romantic relationships has been studied very little, and it’s easy enough to believe that some objectification in a sexual relationship is normal. According to new research, though, men who objectify their partners are more likely to engage in violence and coercion, and being objectified can trigger a host of unhealthy emotions in these men’s partners.
The Risks of Sexual Objectification
To evaluate the effects of sexual objectification within the bounds of a romantic relationship, researchers surveyed 162 women and 119 men in heterosexual relationships. They found that men who extensively focused on their partners’ appearance were more likely to have negative feelings, such as shame, about a partner’s body. These men were also more likely to subscribe to coercive sexual ideas, such as that a woman has a duty to offer sex to her partner. These coercive sexual beliefs made male subjects more likely to engage in manipulative, coercive, and violent tactics to get sex from their partners.
Similarly, women involved with partners who objectified them suffered from body shame. A woman whose partner expressed negative feelings about her body was more likely to internalize these views. Women involved with coercive partners were also less likely to assert themselves and to communicate openly about their sexual desires.
Objectification in romantic relationships related to sexual pressure and coercion. (2014, August 25). Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/281448.php
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