Kathleen Stock on Objectification

A small sample from her post:

So far, we have the following answers to our original questions: Broadly speaking, objectification involves treating another person in ways that resemble the way we treat inanimate objects (treating them as an instrument, or as lacking in autonomy, or as inert, or as fungible, and so on). Sometimes these behaviours occur in the context of actual sex, or are simply eroticized by those involved, and in both those contexts, it makes sense to call them forms of ‘sexual objectification’. As a matter of contingent cultural context, forms of objectification are mostly extended towards women rather than men, but they don’t have to be. Equally contingently, objectification is usually harmful to its recipients, but it doesn’t have to be; much depends on context (the intentions of those involved and/or the consequences).

We have yet to say much about the many contingent contexts in which objectification, thus understood, obviously is harmful, especially to women. We have also yet to say anything about how photos can objectify. I think we can illuminate both of these questions by speculatively positing a causal mechanism that might lie behind a lot of the forms of objectifying behaviour identified by Nussbaum and Langton. This mechanism in question is what I call ‘mind-insensitive seeing’ (or more precisely, ‘seeing-as’, though this can be ignored for present purposes).

Read the whole thing!

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