This woman has the secret to beating sexual objectification.

We all have a vague idea of what sexual objectification looks like. But it’s become so commonplace, that most of us probably don’t even realise to what extent the messages the media are sending out, are affecting us day to day.

Dr Caroline Heldman gave this talk about ‘the sexy lie’ – the lie that sexual objectification is empowering – at a TEDx talk in San Diego.

It’s a little long – but incredibly worthwhile watching.

To break it down for you:

At 0.45 she talks about the ‘sexy lie’. The lie that sexual objectification is empowering.

At 2.00 she discusses her ‘sex object test’, which is used to determine whether or not women in advertising are being presented as sexual objects.

At 4.09, she compares how many advertisements we were subjected to 40 years ago, compared with today.

At 6.02, she talks about the process of ‘self objectification’ – where women reduce their own bodies to nothing but sex objects (even if that means not being ‘in the moment’ when actually having sex!).

At 9.05, she talks about what we can be doing to combat these media messages.

For women:

  • Stop consuming damaging materials
  • Stop competing with other women/girls
  • Stop seeking attention for your body

For men:

  • Be a supportive ally
  • Don’t evaluate girls/women based on appearance
  • Speak out against objectification

And, we’d wager, vice versa.

At 12.15 she talks about her hope for a world where people don’t worry about the way they look – but can concentrate on more serious issues like human trafficking, world poverty, child marriage and the devastation of war.

And in conclusion she asks: What better world will you build?

Do you think the sexual objectification of women in advertising has gone too far? And what better world will you build?