The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thoughts on Objectification

I've done a bit more thinking about the study I wrote about yesterday. The more thinking I did, the less sense the study made as useful scientific endeavor. Think about it. Very small number of test subjects, apparently only pictures of "sexy bikini-clad women" were used, and this was the basis for certain assumptions (I won't call them "conclusions" though that seemed to be what the author wanted us to infer).

The test did show that a certain part of the brain of these particular young (they were all college age) men reacted to the visual stimuli. That part of the brain is the area that goes active when a man is contemplating using some device to accomplish a task. This implies something, obviously. I think the study's author made a huge leap from that observation to a man's objectification of women. She, the author, then goes even further by saying this may be linked to behavior of some men toward women in the workplace.

I have to wonder if she might have easily proved this assumption with a simple test. Show the same men pictures of women, dressed properly for office work (for example), while watching what areas of the brain "light up" (her term). That was not done, apparently.

I thought of other tests that could have easily been run:

Show the men these pictures of bikini-clad women.

Show them these pictures.

Or this.

In fact, maybe this last picture ought to have been shown to young women college students and see what part of their brains "lights up."

I first ran into women working in a previously all male work environment when I first hired on for Southern Bell in 1970. One of the women was in her mid forties, the other in her early twenties. Neither was particularly suited to the job nor having an easy time adapting to it. The interesting thing was the reaction of the men in the office. The younger one, though not especially pretty, was helped more often than the older one. I also noticed that the younger one sought help more often and seemed more at ease doing so.

The above behavior was repeated in every office I worked in over the 34 years I spent with the Bell System and its post-Divestiture manifestation. I also observed it at other businesses I visited or worked at. The women who feels more attractive will use that to their advantage. The women who do not feel that attractive will do more on their own. The same is true of men, in my opinion. This, of course, is not a scientific observation with controls in place and is completely subjective.

Still, we do behave differently when interacting with attractive people than unattractive people. We may flirt a bit, smile more, feel a little nervous around, more shy or bold, than we do with people we see as equally attractive or less attractive than ourselves.

It's only human.


yolanda said...

hmm. that study doesnt differentiate between appreciating something aesthetically - whether it is a man appreciating a woman, or a woman wanting to be appreciated, and viewing something clinically as an object! i think most people when they look at someone purely physically, it's in a tongue-in-cheek way.

i found the last part of your post interesting, because i'm aware that men think im attractive, but i avoid seeking help from them. in the past i often found that men who did things for me had an agenda. it's probably down to discernment, but now i just do things for myself cos i fear leading anyone on.

the experiment and your comments on it remind me of a great book i read called "A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives" by Cordelia Fine. i'm too lazy to write more about it, but i think you'd get a lot out of it.

Alan said...

We are never going to figure this out.

I am guilty. I admit it. I have and will objectify (did I spell that right?)

And honestly I feel my wallet or car are humanized, the opposite.

If men turn women into objects, I think many women seem to humanize, or attach extreme importance to objects.

It goes back to distant roots, so i just accept it, try to be nice and polite, an live.

Well thought out thou, as usual Douglas.

BTW, the last pix won't show on my end.


Douglas said...

Yolanda - we each behave in our own personal way, my observations were generalized. Not all women behaved in the manner I described but the majority seemed to. Strangely, the very attractive seem more inhibited during interactions than the moderately attractive. Which says you must be beautiful. You write that way so your soul is.

Alan - You've never referred to your car as "she"? My mother named her first one. I never did attach a persona to any of my cars or other possessions. Nor have I ever objectified women that I am aware of. My ex-wife accused me of being a sexist on a regular basis, though. I decided that if she believed in women's liberation that I would support that... so I divorced her.

Douglas said...

Yolanda, I will look for that book. Your description and the reviews are intriguing.

Small Footprints said...

Someone once told me ... "Many people are attractive ... and then they open their mouths". :)

Small Footprints

Douglas said...

Small - That is a classic line. Yet it is true more often than not. Strangely, I have found some people become more attractive as you get to know them. Looks truly are skin deep, I think, but the personality alters others' perception.

yolanda said...

douglas... thank you for the compliment, about my soul. i'm truly moved :)