How Our Brains Turn Women Into Objects

A recent article in the Scientific American discussed new research on how men’s minds turn women’s bodies into objects…although, not quite. From the article:

“A recent study found that showing men pictures of sexualized women evokes less activity in areas of the brain responsible for mental state attribution—that is, the area of the brain that becomes active when we think we are looking at an entity capable of thought and planned action. Other studies have found similar results. When men see body shots of women as compared with face shots, they judge women to be less intelligent, likeable, ambitious and competent.”

But it’s not that men see women as objects, like robots, but that they see women through one lens instead of the other. “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.” When men see women’s bodies, their perception of their ability to act and plan goes down, but their perception of the women as emotional goes up. And interestingly, as the latter goes up, so does a man’s sense of the woman’s vulnerability and thus her need for protection.

Read the whole article: How Our Brains Turn Woman Into Objects (@Scientific American)

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