A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that both men and women see images of sexy women's bodies as objects, while they see sexy-looking men as people.
One way that psychologists have found to test whether something is seen as an object is by turning it upside down. Pictures of people present a recognition problem when they're turned upside down, but pictures of objects don't have that problem.
People recognized right-side-up men better than upside-down men, suggesting that they were seeing the sexualized men as people. But the women in underwear weren't any harder to recognize when they were upside down -- which is consistent with the idea that people see sexy women as objects. There was no difference between male and female participants.
On a related note, a nine month old article describes an alarming shift to hypersexualized portrayal of women in "popular media."
BTW, I found it difficult to find an example of a not sexualized woman. Searching on "business woman" for example gives lots of images of women in business suits with plunging necklines and flirtatious body language.
After analyzing more than 1,000 images of men and women on Rolling Stone covers over the course of 43 years, the authors came to several conclusions. First, representations of both women and men have indeed become more sexualized over time; and, second, women continue to be more frequently sexualized than men. Their most striking finding, however, was the change in how intensely sexualized images of women -- but not men -- have become.
...they found that 11 percent of men and 44 percent of women on the covers of Rolling Stone were sexualized. In the 2000s, 17 percent of men were sexualized (an increase of 55 percent from the 1960s), and 83 percent of women were sexualized (an increase of 89 percent). Among those images that were sexualized, 2 percent of men and 61 percent of women were hypersexualized. "In the 2000s," Hatton says, "there were 10 times more hypersexualized images of women than men, and 11 times more non-sexualized images of men than of women."
"Sexualized portrayals of women have been found to legitimize or exacerbate violence against women and girls, as well as sexual harassment and anti-women attitudes among men and boys," Hatton says. "Such images also have been shown to increase rates of body dissatisfaction and/or eating disorders among men, women and girls; and they have even been shown to decrease sexual satisfaction among both men and women."
So, who is to blame? I must confess, that I like looking at women. Through many a process, sometimes painful, I hope that I have evolved (socially, that is),to the point that I do not look at a woman and immediately think sex. I have been told by many of the women that I work with that I treat them fairer than most men. So what. Hyper-sexualization, I believe, is geared toward the most vulnerable in our society, teens and young adults. Of both sexes. So the question remains, what do we do? I don't know, except that I talk to my son and his friends about it sometimes, when a remark has been made, and I get an eyeroll and a yessir, and we know what that means.
It seems to take away from the imagination. I love listening to music, and making my own pictures to it. But when I see a video, it seems to solidify, making my own images to the music harder to come. Same with movies. In Top Hat, with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, after a particular evocative, sexually provacative dance number, when they come to a stop, leaning against a rail, he offers her a cigarette, then cut scene. Message was very clear, left to the imagination. I much prefer that over this hypersexualized messages we are bombarded with today. After all, the largest sexual organ that we have is right between our ears. If properly utilized, the pictures are not necessary. They are just distracting.