Objectification

[W]e need to ask what is involved in the idea of treating as an object. I suggest that at least the following seven notions are involved in that idea:

1. Instrumentality: The objectifier treats the object as a tool of his or her own purposes.
2. Denial of autonomy: The objectifier treats the object as lacking in autonomy and self-determination.
3. Inertness: The objectifier treats the object as lacking in agency, and perhaps also in activity.
4. Fungibility: The objectifier treats the object as interchangeable (a) with other objects of the same type, and/or (b) with objects of other types.
5. Violability: The objectifier treats the object as lacking in boundary-integrity, as something that it is permissible to break up, smash, break into.
6. Ownership: The objectifier treats the object as something that is owned by another, can be bought or sold, etc.
7. Denial of subjectivity: The objectifier treats the object as something whose experience and feelings (if any) need not be taken into account.

Objectification
Martha C. Nussbaum
Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 24, No. 4. (Autumn, 1995), pp. 249-291.

6 responses

  1. […] woman, one white woman; ‘Neapolitan’ one blonde, one brunette, one redhead. Please see this definition of objectification, particularly the point on […]

  2. […] (or if he has, he’s decided not to show it). Let’s go with Martha C. Nussbaum’s definition, as I think it is the most […]

  3. I want to add this post from NYG:

    Because these are things that women can’t do to men:

    “Objectification is a notion central to feminist theory. It can be roughly defined as the seeing and/or treating a person, usually a woman, as an object. In this entry, the focus is primarily on sexual objectification, objectification occurring in the sexual realm. Martha Nussbaum (1995, 257) has identified seven features that are involved in the idea of treating a person as an object:

    1. instrumentality: the treatment of a person as a tool for the objectifier’s purposes;
    2. denial of autonomy: the treatment of a person as lacking in autonomy and self-determination;
    3. inertness: the treatment of a person as lacking in agency, and perhaps also in activity;
    4. fungibility: the treatment of a person as interchangeable with other objects;
    5. violability: the treatment of a person as lacking in boundary-integrity;
    6. ownership: the treatment of a person as something that is owned by another (can be bought or sold);
    7. denial of subjectivity: the treatment of a person as something whose experiences and feelings (if any) need not be taken into account.

    Rae Langton (2009, 228–229) has added three more features to Nussbaum’s list:

    8. reduction to body: the treatment of a person as identified with their body, or body parts;
    9. reduction to appearance: the treatment of a person primarily in terms of how they look, or how they appear to the senses;
    10. silencing: the treatment of a person as if they are silent, lacking the capacity to speak.”

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-objectification/

    It’s the same argument as the one made when people of color state that racism is a class-phenomenon that requires both prejudice and privilege to enact. Women do not have the privilege or power over men as a class to dehumanize them, reduce them to objects, deny them their autonomy, etc. etc. etc.

  4. I have no idea how adding a link is embedding a tumblr post in a WordPress comment, but it looks very good!

    (but I wonder what happens if the original post is deleted?)

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