This is a concise and accessible introduction into the concept of objectification, one of the most frequently recurring terms in both academic and media debates on the gendered politics of contemporary culture, and core to critiquing the social positions of sex and sexism.
Objectification is an issue of media representation and everyday experiences alike. Central to theories of film spectatorship, beauty fashion and sex, objectification is connected to the harassment and discrimination of women, to the sexualization of culture and the pressing presence of body norms within media. This concise guidebook traces the history of the term’s emergence and its use in a variety of contexts such as debates about sexualization and the male gaze, and its mobilization in connection with the body, selfies and pornography, as well as in feminist activism.
It will be an essential introduction for undergraduate and postgraduate students in Gender Studies, Media Studies, Sociology, Cultural Studies or Visual Arts.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: What counts as objectification?
Chapter Two: Male gaze and the politics of representation
Chapter Three: Radical feminism and the objectification of women
Chapter 4: Sex objects and sexual subjects
Chapter Five: Measuring objectification
Chapter Six: What to do with sexualized culture?
Chapter Seven: Beyond the binary
Chapter Eight: Disturbingly lively objects
Susanna Paasonen is Professor of Media Studies at University of Turku, Finland. With an interest in studies of sexuality, networked media and affect, she is the Principal Investigator of both the Academy of Finland research project "Sexuality and Play in Media Culture" and the Strategic Research Council funded consortium, "Intimacy in Data-Driven Culture". Examples of her publications include Who’s Laughing Now? Feminist Tactics in Social Media (MITP, forthcoming, with Jenny Sundén), NSFW: Sex, Humor and Risk in Social Media (MITP, 2019, with Kylie Jarrett and Ben Light), Many Splendored Things: Thinking Sex and Play (Goldsmiths Press, 2018) and Carnal Resonance: Affect and Online Pornography (MITP, 2011).
Feona Attwood is the co-editor of Sexualities and founding co-editor of Porn Studies. Her research focuses on the changing place and significance of gender and sex and their representation in contemporary society. It examines the ways in which sexual practices and representations are caught up in wider debates around bodies, media and technologies, and the emerging centrality of new technologies in conceptions of gender and sexuality. She is the author of Sex Media (Wiley, 2018), co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Media, Sex and Sexuality (Routledge, 2017) and Controversial Images: Media Representations on the Edge (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) and editor of Mainstreaming Sex: The Sexualization of Western Culture (I.B. Tauris, 2009).
Alan McKee is an expert on entertainment and healthy sexual development. He holds an Australian Research Council Discovery grant entitled "Pornography’s Effects on Audiences: Explaining Contradictory Research Data". He recently completed a Wellcome Grant entitled "Investigating Mediated Sex and Young People’s Health and Well-being" and an ARC Linkage grant with True (previously Family Planning Queensland) to investigate the use of vulgar comedy to provide information about healthy sexual development to young men. He was co-editor of the Girlfriend Guide to Life and co-author of Pornography: Structures Agency and Performance (Polity, 2015). He has published on healthy sexual development, and entertainment education for healthy sexuality in journals, including the Archives of Sexual Behavior, the International Journal of Sexual Health, the Journal of Sex Research and Sex Education.
John Mercer is Professor of Gender and Sexuality at Birmingham City University. He is the Principal Investigator (with Clarissa Smith) of the "Masculinity, Sex and Popular Culture" AHRC research network and is co-editor with Clarissa Smith of the Routledge book series of the same name. He is the author of Gay Porn: Representations of Masculinity and Sexuality (I.B. Tauris, 2017), Rock Hudson (BFI Publishing, 2015) and of Melodrama: Genre Style Sensibility (with Martin Shingler) (Columbia University Press, 2004). He is co-editor of the Journal of Gender Studies, Porn Studies, and editorial board member of Sexualities and Celebrity Studies. He has written about film and television genres, celebrity and stardom, the pornography debate, the sexualization of contemporary media culture and contemporary masculinity. His research interests concern the politics of representation, in particular sexual representation, the connections between gay pornography and the making of a gay identity, the social and cultural construction of masculinities, performances of gender in the media and the wider culture, and melodrama, emotion and affect in the media and their gendered modes of address.
Clarissa Smith is Professor in the Media School at Northumbria University. A founding co-editor of Porn Studies, Clarissa’s research is focused on representations of sex and sexuality, their production and consumption. Publications include numerous articles and chapters exploring the specificities of pornographic imagery, forms of stardom, production and regulation. She is interested in media consumption and how different audiences engage with and make sense of popular representations; she is also engaged in research to explore young people’s practices of digital self-representation and participation.
"Authored by a team of internationally respected scholars, whose research has shaped many of the current debates in gender and sexuality studies, Objectification is one of the first sustained studies to consider the subtle differences between sexualised representation and objectification arguing that, although these concepts may overlap, they are not the same thing. Addressing topics ranging from selfie culture to contemporary trans rights, Objectification makes a timely intervention into media and cultural studies. Written in an accessible style, which is free from academic jargon, this book will be important reading for both academic researchers and students who are new to the subject area."
Niall Richardson, Convenor of MA Gender and Media, University of Sussex, UK