Objectification Theory


Welcome to ObjectificationTheory.com.

Sexual Objectification

"Sexual objectification occurs whenever a woman's body, body parts, or sexual functions are separated out from her person, reduced to the status of mere instruments, or regarded as if they were capable of representing her (Bartky, 1990). In other words, when objectified, women are treated as bodies - and in particular, as bodies that exist for the use and pleasure of others. Certainly not all men sexually objectify women; indeed, many elect not to and are likely to have richer relationships with women as a consequence (Stoltenberg, 1989). But importantly, because a sexually objectifying gaze is not under women's control, few women can completely avoid potentially objectifying contexts (Kaschak, 1992)."

Social mechanisms

Objectification Theory is a hypothesis regarding the propagation of sexual objectification proposed by Barbara L. Fredrickson and Tomi-Ann Roberts (1997). It has since been confirmed empirically and extended by a number of studies. Objectification theory describes specifically the relationship between experience of sexual objectification and self-objectification in women (the ontake of external perspectives). This relationship however appears to be only one of many in a "circle of objectification" - a positive feedback loop propogating sexual objectification throughout society.

Genetic mechanisms

Socialisation plays a large role in sexual objectification, including the redistribution of perspectives, beliefs, and representations. Despite this, intrinsic biases have been identified in human object recognition of males versus females - which are independent of the observer (their gender, socialisation, etc).

"Seeing women as objects: The sexual body part recognition bias" (2012), by Sarah J. Gervais, Theresa K. Vescio, Jens Forster, Anne Maass, and Caterina Suitner (Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, USA; Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, USA; Department of Psychology, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Department of Psychology, University of Padova, Padova, Italy).


The Foundation has conducted a core analysis of objectification theory research to date, and have published a white paper highlighting their recommendations for future research.


We provide here an online survey that will be used in the understanding of sexual objectification experience in both males and females.

This website is an initiative of the RBB Foundation.
Copyright © 2013, Richard Baxter. All Rights Reserved.