When I came across a headline this morning that read “Men really do see half-naked women as sex objects, scientists claim,” I felt that this had to be inherently untrue.
Though I certainly do not doubt the findings in the study that some men react to images of scantily clad women the same way that they would react to an object (rather than a human), I didn’t believe that this was something that could possibly be true of “men” in general. I also felt that rather than being used to point out how sexist images of women and sexist attitudes towards women do actually end up hurting men and women alike, as feminists have claimed for some time, that it would be used instead to make some argument about how men naturally behave and how we can’t change it.
I was right on both counts.
Actually, what the study says but the headline neglects, is that this reaction was seen in men who were determined to be in other ways sexist. That’s right, “men” don’t see half-naked women as objects; sexist men see half-naked women as objects.
Which is something that, again, feminists already knew.
But while the Telegraph article does manage to point study author Susan Fiske’s analysis, which states that this reaction may indeed have something to do with how women are portrayed in the media, guess how the Telegraph also chose to illustrate their article? That’s right, with a picture of a woman who just so happens to not be wearing any pants.
The article by the Guardian, a news source that we would generally believe to be a lot more reliable, also ran with a headline that says “Sex Objects: Pictures shift men’s view of women,” as though it’s some kind of universal response. They don’t mention the whole aspect of how this response is predominantly seen among sexist men until the very last paragraph of the article.
Funny how what this study seems to say — and I say “seems” because of course no one bothered to include the title of the study so that I might be able to find a copy of it or even an abstract (help, anyone?) — is, “shockingly, sexist assholes are sexist assholes.” But yet again, the media has decided to turn it into “sorry ladies, guys are scum who don’t see you as human and you’re just going to have to learn to live with it.”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Yup, us feminists are the ones who hate men, all right.