How do you tell if an image is sexually objectifying? Some are very obvious, but in fact there are a number of ways in which images can be, without seeming to be, on casual observation.
And, of course, there are those who don’t look at an image and wonder, or think, about what it says about women, and the impact it has on women an girls.
Well, it is really hard to reach those who simply don’t think. How do you open a discussion with someone about sexual objectification who doesn’t even realise sexism exists?
But for the rest, for those who do wonder, and do give a damn, Caroline Heldman is a fine thinker on the subject and she has penned a test for determining this.
It is eminently sensible, very readable, and very understandable, and poses 7 questions to the observer of an image to gauge whether an image objectifies or not.
If I might quickly paraphrase the main elements of the test below, and then you can read it in more detail on: http://carolineheldman.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/sexual-objectification-part-1-what-is-it/
1) Does the image show only part(s) of a sexualized person’s body?
2) Does the image present a sexualized person as a stand-in for an object?
3) Does the image show a sexualized person as interchangeable?
4) Does the image affirm the idea of violating the bodily integrity of a sexualized person that can’t consent?
5) Does the image suggest that sexual availability is the defining characteristic of the person?
6) Does the image show a sexualized person as a commodity (something that can be bought and sold)?
7) Does the image treat a sexualized person’s body as a canvas?