Do Skimpy Clothes Force Men's Brains to Objectify Women?

Illustration for article titled Do Skimpy Clothes Force Mens Brains to Objectify Women?

Science can't shut up about how men can't help the fact that they sometimes seem like they might be thinking with their penises because their brains force them to objectify women. New research suggests that they're actually not objectifying you per se; they're just re-imagining what sort of brain you possess. And the less you're wearing, the dumber and more fragile they think you are.

Scientific American reports on the new study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that found men viewing pictures of scantily clad women don't think of them the same way that they'd

Research into mind perception has found two dimensions along which we tend to categorize others: agency (the capacity to act, plan) and experience (the capacity to feel emotions). A robot, for example, is high on the dimension of agency but low in experience. It can think, but it can't feel. When we see flesh, on the other hand, we tend to see experience but not agency-an entity capable of pleasure and pain but not necessarily the sharpest or most useful tool in the shed.


Basically, what this means is the less you're wearing, the more experience you're perceived to have. And more experience means more feelings. And more feelings means you're entirely not useful or logical. This is why the lady robot in Blade Runner wore such elaborate, high collars and why it's so harrowing to watch a fraternity sponsored KY Jelly wrestling match.

This sort of convenient "my brain made me do it!" excuse could also be used to explain why police in New York City feel the need to tell skirt-wearing women that they shouldn't dress so skankily. Their manbrains are making them see underclothed women as more vulnerable and full of feelings than fully clothed women, you see. Simultaneously, their manbrains are calculating that women wearing less clothing are not capable of thinking or making their own decisions.

No word on whether the researchers controlled for the social conditioning that teaches men that women are delicate flowers who need to be protected, or the mental convenience of assuming that the lady in a string bikini they're objectifying must be dumb in order to minimize her humanity and thus the guilt one would feel in thinking of another human as a pleasure toy.

How our Brains Objectify Women [Scientific American]

Image via Steven Frame/Shutterstock

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Pope Alexander

I heard a This American Life episode a few weeks back where a woman who'd had a sex change to become a man said that he was initially injected with an insane amount of testosterone and experienced the strangest sensation of having a female brain saying, "Don't be a pig" with a male id that was urging him to look at every woman's cleavage. It was really interesting. I'm not saying that it forgives or excuses oggling — he did argue that perhaps it's partly the problem of someone having testosterone piled on all at once and not having to learn the art of looking in the eyes instead of the orbs that men have had to perfect over time, but it was definitely food for thought.