Effects of Objectification of Women on Their Mental Health
In their everyday interactions, women are under constant threat of sexual objectification. There are various forms of sexual objectification: unwanted and unwarranted sexual advances, body criticism, catcalling, and inappropriate oversexualized comments, to name but a few. The condoning of the objectification of women has contributed to increased sexual violence, sexism, and violence against women. This paper analyzes the effects of sexual objectification on women’s mental health.
Among the identified effects of sexual objectification is reduced confidence in women. In their attempt to avoid sexual harassment, many women often opt not to leave the house unchaperoned (Ahmad et al. 96). Acts such as street harassment and body shaming are traumatizing and severely impact women’s self-esteem to the point where they do not feel comfortable leaving their houses alone. In workplaces, instances of objectification demoralize women and, in many cases, result in a fall in productivity due to anxieties and trauma stemming from sexual harassment. Objectification negatively affects women’s psyche, reducing women’s sense of their own value.
The resulting trauma from sexual objectification and feelings of shame and anxiety in women ultimately culminates in depression. Body surveillance leads to body shame, anxiety, and reduced motivation in women (Saez et al. 741). Incidences of interpersonal sexual objectification lead to increased depressive symptoms in women. The sexualization of women demeans women by linking their societal worth to their body image. This devaluation subjects women to maintaining a certain image as per societal expectations. Missing these expectations leaves women with feelings of shame and failure. Those who do meet these expectations are anxious about the resulting sexual advances. The tremendous pressure on either side creates a traumatic psychological environment for women leading to increased cases of depression.
In adolescents and young adults, sexual objectification impacts the development of sexual identity. Objectification inhibits the value impressionable adolescents and young adults place on their sexual identity (Grower et al. 277). The mental development of young adults is threatened by the societal portrayal that women’s value is determined by how sexy they are. Objectification lowers the value placed on women and confines them to their sexuality and it may have a toll on the developing adults’ self-esteem. They place increased significance on their sexuality as a societal demand rather than an integral part of their identity to be explored on their terms and comfort levels.
Sexual objectification has led to the propagation of body standards for women. Consequently, sexual objectification has increased cases of eating disorders among women (Grower et al. 273). Society expects women to conform to a particular physical image; some body frames are considered more appealing than others. Women often resort to strict body surveillance to the point that it may develop into more severe eating disorders like anorexia. Not only does sexual objectification result in body shaming, but an increased number of women suffer from eating disorders in an attempt to fit into society’s preferred models.
Sexual objectification has resulted in various mental health problems in women. Due to sexual objectification, women have experienced traumatic events leading to shame, anxiety, and depression. In addition, they may have lower self-worth and self-esteem, affecting both their work and their health. Objectification is also harmful to young women. Their impressionable nature causes them to identify with the wrong connotation of women’s sexual identity. Objectification has tremendous psychological implications, and its propagation will further devalue an entire gender.
Ahmad, Naila M., et al. “Socio-psychological Implications of Public Harassment for Women in the Capital City of Islamabad.” Indian Journal of Gender Studies, vol. 27, no. 1, 2020, pp. 77-100.
Grower, Petal, et al. “Beyond Objectification: Understanding the Correlates and Consequences of Sexualization for Black and White Adolescent Girls.” Journal of Research on Adolescence, vol. 31, no. 2, 2020, pp. 273-281.
Sáez, Gemma, et al. “Interpersonal Sexual Objectification Experiences: Psychological and Social Well-Being Consequences for Women.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, vol. 34, no. 4, 2016, pp. 741-762.
The Importance of Objectification of Women Problems Research
Objectification of women is a persistent problem in our society, one that has grown more prominent with the advent of media and digital technology. It is the process of treating people, especially women, as if they were objects to be judged based on their physical appearance or sexual appeal. This objectification can lead to body shaming, self-esteem issues, and even violence against women.
However, objectification of women is not just an issue for women; it affects men as well. Due to the pervasive nature of sexualized images of women in media, society has become desensitized to the damaging effects of objectification. This can lead to a decrease in respect for both genders and put men in a position where they are more likely to make decisions based on the perceived sexual appeal of a woman, rather than her skills and abilities.
Objectification of women can also have an adverse effect on the way women view themselves. When women are constantly presented as objects of desire or fantasy, it can lead to low self-esteem, body shaming, and an inability to recognize their worth beyond physical beauty. This can lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, as well as a decreased sense of worth.
Finally, objectification of women can also lead to violence against women. Studies have linked sexualized images of women with a decrease in empathy towards them and an increase in violence. This can include physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, as well as rape and other forms of gender-based violence.
Objectification of women is a pervasive problem in our society that must be addressed if we are to create an equal and safe world for both men and women. In order to combat objectification of women, it is important to raise awareness about its damaging effects and the way it can lead to violence against women. Additionally, education is key for both men and women on how to view each other as people rather than objects. Finally, companies and media outlets should be held responsible for their participation in objectifying women and creating a culture of disrespect towards them. By taking these steps, we can work towards a world where women are seen as equals and respected for their intellect, skills, and abilities.
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