Men really do see scantily-clad women as objects!

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Doug
Men really do see scantily-clad women as objects!

Yes, it probably should be published in the Journal of the Blatantly Obvious, but I think it's still interesting.


Brain scans revealed that when men are shown pictures of scantily clad women, the region of the brain associated with tool use lights up.
Men were also more likely to associate images of sexualized women with first-person action verbs such as "I push, I grasp, I handle," said lead researcher Susan Fiske, a psychologist at Princeton University.
And in a "shocking" finding, Fiske noted, some of the men studied showed no activity in the part of the brain that usually responds when a person ponders another's intentions.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/02/090216-bikinis-women-men...

500_Apples

Doug,

I really disagree with your tone on neurological MRI research.

Yes of course a lot of it yields "blatantly obvious" results, but some of it won't, and these searches are important just to make sure.

Also, it's the general media coverage, these studies are often a lot more substantial than what makes it to the 50 word article. As far as I can tell the national geographic article does not link to the actual study nor does it give a reference that would allow one to look it up.

martin dufresne

"Brain scans revealed that when men are shown pictures of scantily clad women, the region of the brain associated with tool use lights up."

And what about the corollary? You know, that region of the tool associated with the brain...Tongue out

Tommy_Paine

Perhaps this is just bad reporting, but from the article that "study" is,  as some physics guy once said, "not even wrong."

And in a "shocking" finding, Fiske noted, some of the men studied showed no activity in the part of the brain that usually responds when a person ponders another's intentions.

What intentions could a photograph possibly have?

Noise

lol that is kinda funny tommy...

 

Quote:
Brain scans revealed that when men are shown pictures of scantily clad women, the region of the brain associated with tool use lights up.

Hey congrats, we've proved men view pictures as tools.

martin dufresne

It seems to me that there is a whole industry predicated on getting men to grasp and handle their tool when shown scantily-clad women...

Seriously, I was surprised, reading this very short article, at the space given to the contingent of psychologists that are clearly hostile to Susan Fiske's finding.

First, the journalist herself who seems to have asked Fiske to speculate as to what this experiment would tell us if the genders were reversed. Surprising ideological tack from an allegedly objective publication.

There is also the amount of space given to so-called 'evolutionary' psychologists whose reactionary politics are well-known (women are naturally drawn to macho brutes, etc.) The only article quoted is from that ilk and dates back ten years.

The article goes so far as to "quote" (without naming them) Fiskes colleagues against her. How often do you see this in scientific coverage?

In short, this article is a hatchet job.

Too bad because I found very significant the actual findings about men's empirical inability to consider women as human beings with their own agenda when they are objectified. Maybe that disturbing insight goes some way explaining this bizarre preventive strike.

Fiske is no begineer as the article makes her look. Check out her bio. She has long taken on the psychology of sexist stereotyping and racism, clearly sacred cows for some.

 

remind remind's picture

Quote:
Too bad because I found very significant the actual findings about men's empirical inability to consider women as human beings with their own agenda when they are objectified.

Me too, as objectification works well to keep patriarchy alive and well and omen oppressed, abused and exploited.

Snert Snert's picture

To be fair, when I look at, say, the pictures of clothed people in a Canadian Tire flyer, I don't wonder to myself "That guy setting up the collapsable kayak... what are HIS goals?  Who does HE want to be some day?  And what about the woman on the chaise... does she have dreams like I have dreams?"

As noted above, photographic representations rarely have agendas that make any sense to us. 

Michelle

Yeah, I wonder if they had a control group that looked at fully-clothed men, women, and children, and naked men?

500_Apples

martin dufresne wrote:

It seems to me that there is a whole industry predicated on getting men to grasp and handle their tool when shown scantily-clad women...

Seriously, I was surprised, reading this very short article, at the space given to the contingent of psychologists that are clearly hostile to Susan Fiske's finding.

First, the journalist herself who seems to have asked Fiske to speculate as to what this experiment would tell us if the genders were reversed. Surprising ideological tack from an allegedly objective publication.

There is also the amount of space given to so-called 'evolutionary' psychologists whose reactionary politics are well-known (women are naturally drawn to macho brutes, etc.) The only article quoted is from that ilk and dates back ten years.

The article goes so far as to "quote" (without naming them) Fiskes colleagues against her. How often do you see this in scientific coverage?

In short, this article is a hatchet job.

Too bad because I found very significant the actual findings about men's empirical inability to consider women as human beings with their own agenda when they are objectified. Maybe that disturbing insight goes some way explaining this bizarre preventive strike.

Fiske is no begineer as the article makes her look. Check out her bio. She has long taken on the psychology of sexist stereotyping and racism, clearly sacred cows for some.

 

Whether or not evolutionary psychology has bad politics is irrelevant. All that matters is how much truth is there to it? But anyhow, that said, it's not the only school of thought, a less lazy journalist or editor would have found a few more articles of different styles to link to.

I do agree with you it's a hatchet job though. They don't link to her actual study, so nobody can make an independent judgment of what's going on.

Strange, I thought National Geographic could be held to a high standard. Maybe this is an anomaly.

RosaL

If you stimulate a certain area of my brain and I smell burning toast, that depends in part on my having having been formed by a toast-eating culture.

Even if men do see scantily clad women as objects, it is entirely possible that this is a social or cultural phenomenon or that it's possible to change it. The unspoken and unquestioned assumption here is biological determinism. You'd have to compare men who had grown up in a culture that respected women with men who had grown up in a culture that objectified them to determine whether such a tendency was innate (and even if innate, it could be changeable). However, there are no men (or too few for statistical purposes) who belong to the first category for such a comparative study to be possible. 

note: it's exactly what I would have expected from the National Geographic. 

remind remind's picture

Snert wrote:
To be fair, when I look at, say, the pictures of clothed people in a Canadian Tire flyer, I don't wonder to myself "That guy setting up the collapsable kayak... what are HIS goals?  Who does HE want to be some day?  And what about the woman on the chaise... does she have dreams like I have dreams?"

As noted above, photographic representations rarely have agendas that make any sense to us.

Now that is extremely naive, or ill thought out, of course they do, perhaps not on your immediate rational mind, but they most definitely impact your sub-conscious awareness and sell to you from that level.

There is a reason why  subliminal messaging in picrtures and music is illegal after all, and has been for decades. But still there are plenty of ways to use covert subliminal messaging in ads, and it is done all the time.

The man with the kayak, is being sold as a image of what it takes to be a manly man in today's world, outdoors adventure sportsman, pitting himself against the forces of nature, while the woman reclines on the chaise lounge  eating bons bons and perhaps reading love stories, while planning the dinner menu.

Those are the images being sold, and that is the conceptual framework being created by the images in those ads. Ergo you are being told what their goals and dreams are, you do not even have to think about it.

500_Apples

RosaL wrote:

note: it's exactly what I would have expected from the National Geographic. 

When did they cave in to the culture of stereotypical and cheesy journalism?

martin dufresne

Speaking as someone whose first exposure to "nudes" was a dusty collection of National Geographics, I think that the politics of the National Geographic have long been documented: in a nutshell, Western white males exploring their garden, defining Primitives. I agree with RosaL: Putting down a female Princeton scientist that directly challenges the reproduction of patriarchy is totally cricket in their book.

Interesting view of current NG choices on this forum I found entering Sexism and National Geographic.

Merowe

Only those of the test group previously judged to be 'hostile sexist' produced the required, total woman-as-object-and-nothing-more response; presumably the rest of them showed a little more emotional maturity/acuity/sensitivity and their brain activity confirmed they were aware they were looking at an image of a fellow human being.

But I don't think this is a very 'clean' study. The subjects were presented with IMAGES of sexually attractive young women, some of which were cropped to remove heads and limbs. As they traveled to the location of the study they will have viewed dozens of IMAGES of sexually attractive young women deployed to GET THEIR ATTENTION. Advertisers having noticed that nothing turns a man's eye like a pretty woman. The test subjects will view dozens more such images on their way home and the process will continue every day of their modern lives, the same process which started from the day they were first able to read a visual image.

So what is it really telling us? That some men have adapted to the daily barrage of manipulative sexual titillation by filtering all but the sexual content? 

What if the study had used real women? Then the subjects would process the experience with a much broader set of criteria.

This study isn't about men, it's about patriarchy and cultural conditioning.

 

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:

Now that is extremely naive, or ill thought out, of course they do, perhaps not on your immediate rational mind, but they most definitely impact your sub-conscious awareness and sell to you from that level.
There is a reason why  subliminal messaging in picrtures and music is illegal after all, and has been for decades. But still there are plenty of ways to use covert subliminal messaging in ads, and it is done all the time.
The man with the kayak, is being sold as a image of what it takes to be a manly man in today's world, outdoors adventure sportsman, pitting himself against the forces of nature, while the woman reclines on the chaise lounge  eating bons bons and perhaps reading love stories, while planning the dinner menu.


But those are just fictional narratives, and the humans in the photographs are nothing more than props in them.
Wondering, consciously or not, about buddy and his new kayak isn't really wondering about a real human with real goals and hopes and dreams beyond assembling a kayak.

remind remind's picture

Most people choose to live in fictional narratives set for them by the advertisers, or even their church, and most do not even realize it.  Conceptual frameworks are set, that have nothing to do with anyone considering anything about others hopes and dreams.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
Conceptual frameworks are set, that have nothing to do with anyone considering anything about others hopes and dreams.

 

So if a man looks at the pictures in the Canadian Tire flyer and doesn't really wonder about the people in the ads or their agenda, that's just because a fictional framework has been created for him that makes that unnecessary.

 

But if the same man looks a picture of a woman in a bikini, for which no fictional framework has been created, and this time also doesn't wonder about the people in the pictures or their agenda, it's probably because men are horndogs and view women as meat?

 

Is that pretty much where you're taking this?

 

I'm just saying (and you can speak for yourself) that I typically don't regard any of the millions of photographs of strangers that I'll see over my lifetime as anything other than the two dimensional images that they are. If someone informs me that the part of my brain that usually lights up when I consider actual humans and their thoughts and wants and needs DOES NOT light up when I'm looking at a grainy, 4-colour halftone of a photograph of a human, I guess I'm just not that shocked.

500_Apples

Snert wrote:

Quote:
Conceptual frameworks are set, that have nothing to do with anyone considering anything about others hopes and dreams.

 

So if a man looks at the pictures in the Canadian Tire flyer and doesn't really wonder about the people in the ads or their agenda, that's just because a fictional framework has been created for him that makes that unnecessary.

 

But if the same man looks a picture of a woman in a bikini, for which no fictional framework has been created, and this time also doesn't wonder about the people in the pictures or their agenda, it's probably because men are horndogs and view women as meat?

 

Is that pretty much where you're taking this?

 

I'm just saying (and you can speak for yourself) that I typically don't regard any of the millions of photographs of strangers that I'll see over my lifetime as anything other than the two dimensional images that they are. If someone informs me that the part of my brain that usually lights up when I consider actual humans and their thoughts and wants and needs DOES NOT light up when I'm looking at a grainy, 4-colour halftone of a photograph of a human, I guess I'm just not that shocked.

Snert,

What is it you object to? The human brain does multiple things at once. To paraphrase Antonio Damasio, the concious is only the tip of the iceberg.

Why do you think middle-class restaurants often post signs that say "hiring waitresses" and they typically hire tall and thin 22-year old women to do so? Do men not go to restaurants to eat dinner? Yes, we go to restaurants to eat dinner (or lunch), but multiple things happen at once in the brain. Managers hope male customers will be in a better mood (enjoying their time more), and spend more money.

The brain is very complex. You may think you don't notice pictures, but if you see them part of the brain will activate and process, even if it's in the back of your mind.

As for "grainy, 4 color halftones", if we can't see how the brain responds to specific stimuli in isolation (baby steps) we have no hope of seeing what happens when different factors are lumped together as in modern advertising.

remind remind's picture

Nope, the objectified conceptual framework for the woman in the bikini was set long ago, and all it means to me is that men are simply responding to operant conditioning, as opposed to having a character flaw of being a "horn dog".

 

RosaL

martin dufresne wrote:

Speaking as someone whose first exposure to "nudes" was a dusty collection of National Geographics, 

 

heh. Yes, i used to find National Geographic interesting for that reason, too, though it was the men who interested me. But, yes, I think it was disrespectful. 

500_Apples

Martin,

Did you send an email commenting that they only had one related link, to evolutionary psychology?

They changed their related links. They now link to 3 articles.

# Stimulate a Brain
# Gay Men, Straight Women Have Similar Brains
# Men Like to See Cheaters Suffer, Brain Study Shows

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:

Nope, the objectified conceptual framework for the woman in the bikini was set long ago, and all it means to me is that men are simply responding to operant conditioning, as opposed to having a character flaw of being a "horn dog".

 

Except that operant conditioning seeks to modify or control voluntary (operant) behaviour, not INvoluntary NON-behaviour.

 

But otherwise, please, continue.

martin dufresne

500 Apples, no, I did not write them. But I imagine that other readers, or the researcher herself, protested their coverage of this finding.

Good idea, though, I will write.

Snert, I don't see dismissing women's agency - reacting to them as something to be grasped rather than someone who may object - as a NON-behaviour; and since presenting women "scantily-clad" is definitely a behaviour, I think it is reasonable to be concerned about the effect of this well-established policy on "hostile sexists," a significant proportion of the population.

Don't you? This isn't about collapsible kayaks...

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
Snert, I don't see dismissing women's agency - reacting to them as something to be grasped rather than someone who may object - as a NON-behaviour

 

Evidently the researcher(s) did: they described a region of the brain NOT showing activity.

martin dufresne

When the default is activity, non-activity is a problem. And bringing men to become insensitive to targets is definitely operant conditioning: military training considers it vital.

Snert Snert's picture

[IMG]http://i42.tinypic.com/vse0ck.jpg[/IMG]\

 

Ride it like you stole it, Martin.

martin dufresne

???

Tommy_Paine

 

I think the study, as reported, is set up to beg the question.  Present a woman as an object, and measure the response.  Surprise!  Objectification of women.

Now's the time for someone to ask me, "why are you being so deffensive?".

 

Laughing

al-Qa'bong

I came to this thread because someone said it had free beer.

Well, it was something like that, anyway.

 

martin dufresne

I think the study, as reported, is set up to beg the question. Present a woman as an object, and measure the response. Surprise! Objectification of women.

It will be interesting to access the study and verify whether it was that trite or whether the National Geographic News' account of it was, in fact, reductive. Indications suggest it was, and not because of the original material.

Still, by Tommy_Paine's standard, any experimental set-up looking to verify a hypothesis can be dismissed as a "set-up". I don't think this one is as tautological as he claims. In fact, few men will agree that images of "scantily-clad" women are objectifying.

Indeed, isn't it a bit preposterous to paint Fiske as the one "presenting woman as objects"? 

I do find it significant that these images apparently turn off part of some men's brain as compared to images of fully-clothed ones. That seems like quite a bridge between sociological and neurological analyses.

Some may differ, of course (but who is to say which part of their brain does?Tongue out)

remind remind's picture

Frankly, women and girls do not need to be presented as an object in our society, it is the automatic default position amongst the greatest majority because of past objectification operant conditioning. It is pretty much self sustaining these days.

500_Apples

I emailed Susan Fiske, she said the paper is under formal review so they can't send a manuscript, that explains why there was no direct source, I guess.

I'd still prefer they write that, say "to be presented in paper submitted to the journal of thought, submission date" or something like that.

She said that NG did a pretty good job.

She sent me a draft of her abstract, I'm assuming I'm not allowed to post on a public space, if you want it send me a PM.

Tommy_Paine

I don't have an axe to grind on either side of the subject, to be honest.  I just think the study doesn't advance our understanding. 

If I'm presented with a picture, let's say an icon... Marilyn Monroe over the subway grate.... for a few reasons, it's not a picture of an actual woman; rather a symbol.  So, it's bound to light up a different part of my brain, then say, a picture of a female friend or co-worker. 

Without knowing how each subject "classified" the images from the outset, it's really difficult to say how it offers any real insight.

martin dufresne

1) The pictures shown in this study were not of "icons," they were of actual people - even if they weren't "friends or colleagues". The subjects mentalized less in relation to them than they did to fully-clothed models, but they remembered tem more.

2) Marilyn Monroe was an actual woman, even if that specific "subway grate" picture was made into an icon over the years.

3) It seems to me that the empirical approach of taking a neurological reading - observing inactivity in parts of the brain - bypasses reduction to any interpretative "classification" scheme to explain the observed outcomes. 

Tommy_Paine

All the pictures were icons.

 

remind remind's picture

I actually do not give a shit whether they were icons or not, people are made into icons to use symbolically in the pursuit of social control, and in respect to women we are made into sexual icons, or incompetants, with an occasional busy body "crone" thrown in.

For example last week I watched several clips of them turning Nancy Pelosi into a freakin sex object, and calling her hot yadda yadda. Therefore, they can silence her and marginalize her as just being an object.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Nancy Pelosi? That defies credibility. I just don't see it.

remind remind's picture

They did it, seriously, watched them over the course of 3 days news and entertainment reporting, it was amazing actually, to see her at the end of it simpering like a school girl.

Tommy_Paine

I actually do not give a shit whether they were icons or not, people are made into icons to use symbolically in the pursuit of social control, and in respect to women we are made into sexual icons, or incompetants, with an occasional busy body "crone" thrown in.

I agree.  And if I have to claim a bias, I'd say the study has managed to arrive at a correctish observation in spite of faulty methodology.

 

remind remind's picture

I am not sure it was faulty methodology at all.

thanks

the context sets up limits, boundaries, glass ceilings.

the needs or desires of men pidgeon-hole women.

not just women, but entire forums get written off.

 

do babblers analyse the sequence, dynamics, and implications of their own behaviour for babble ?

remind remind's picture

Sometimes thanks there is just too big of leaps of where your mind goes from the topic at hand, to how you perceive correlations, for clear understanding of your meanings and intent.

thanks

remind, I've mentioned it before, so there's no need to act dumb.

threads come up at babble, and re-emerge, with sexist titles or content.

it's a turn-off.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Actually, I agree with Snert. It's the image that is an object, not the woman. What happens when a man is confronted with an 'actual' scantily-clad woman? Do the same parts of the braiin light up? This is not to say that men do not view women as objects--I didn't think that was up for debate--but the fact is that we live in a capitalist, spectacular culture in which the image reigns supreme. It's why the word 'reification' was invented.

remind remind's picture

catchfire, images are real people. That people see an image of a person, namely a woman, as an object is indicative of failure on their part to look beyond themselves and their immediate desires.

Placing an abstract upon a person beacuse it is "only" a picture is dehumanizing.

Take for example the picture of little girl in Viet Nam, burned by napalm, running down the road. That little girl was not dehmanized, through that image of her, she was in fact humanized.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Actually, I disagree. Photographs never humanize, they reify and separate. Any photograph, or film image, of a war atrocity carries the viewer so far from the actual trauma of the event so that understanding and communion cannot be reached. Photograph Mai Lai? Don't be absurd.

remind remind's picture

Nonsense there is a reason why in these days they want to stop pictures from coming out of war.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Yes, of course. But we are talking about 'objectification' which is a whole different thing from 'letting people know what is going on in Iraq' or even 'appealing emotionally to a person through an evocative image so that they will agree that the war is wrong'.

Caissa

Catchfire, are you wondering if there is a difference in response if someone sees a person vs. a picture of a person?

martin dufresne

It seems to that for some people, arguments are really about the alleged impossibility of arguing the truth of any statement that goes beyond tautology (A = A). It's the "Oh yeah...?" stance. The most abusive of images can be dismissed as "just an image", the most gripping of words as "just words", indeed any person or argument as "Well, that's just you." In the end, they are simply denying te possibility of achieving common ground, asserting a relativist position where anything else than a mythic reality and/or their own standpoint can be dismissed for convenience. Their illusion is that such a sophomoric stand-offish stance is somehow more accurate than trying to account for reality beyond that intellectual wasteland, the none the less real power relationships and other effects mediated amomg humans through images, statements, reactions, acts.

 

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