Growing up in a culture where women are sexually objectified, young girls tend to view themselves as objects of sexual desire for others. But exposure to the sexual objectification of women doesn’t only affect us girls – it also causes male viewers to grow to be more tolerant of sexual harassment and sexual objectification in our society.
The film industry (or more broadly, pop culture) wrongfully teaches girls that their value lies in how sexy they appear to others: learning at a very young age that their sexuality exists to please others. At the same time, being sexual, or simply embracing your sexuality, is stigmatized in women but encouraged in men.
This internalised sexual objectification of women is often linked to a variety of issues:
- Body shame
Studies have proven that the sexual objectification of women in films can promote an ‘unattainable beauty’ standard leading to body shame and a decrease in body positivity. Body shame and other body image issues can lead to deeper problems like eating disorders.
Exposure to films promoting sexual objectification often leads to something called appearance and safety anxiety in young women. Seeing films which convey scenes of women being harassed, stalked, abused or objectified can cause girls to become more concerned with issues about their personal appearance, personal safety, and interpersonal relationships. Feeling like you lack control in these areas may contribute to an increased sense of anxiety.
Depression is a big and one of the most common side effects of sexual objectification. Viewing sexual objectification occur in films often leads to women undergoing psychological experiences like self-objectification which can potentially lead to depression.
- Eating disorders
Some studies have found a relationship linking sexual objectification and disordered eating. Eating disorders are often closely related to body shame, and body shame is correlated to self-objectification.
Did any of these side effects surprise you? Have you ever felt affected by sexual objectification in a film before?
Let us know in the comments down below!
– S x