This discussion on objectification is getting really interesting. Reading through the comments on Ed Yong’s Not exactly rocket science blog, someone linked to this article in The Guardian from last year (don’t know how I missed it): Sex objects: Pictures shift men’s view of women:
Men are more likely to think of women as objects if they have looked at sexy pictures of females beforehand, psychologists said yesterday.
Researchers used brain scans to show that when straight men looked at pictures of women in bikinis, areas of the brain that normally light up in anticipation of using tools, like spanners and screwdrivers, were activated.
Scans of some of the men found that a part of the brain associated with empathy for other people’s emotions and wishes shut down after looking at the pictures.
Susan Fiske, a psychologist at Princeton University in New Jersey, said the changes in brain activity suggest sexy images can shift the way men perceive women, turning them from people to interact with, to objects to act upon.
In a memory test afterwards, the men in the study “best remembered images of bikini-clad women whose heads had been digitally removed”.
MRI scans showed that these images increased activity in the premotor cortex, which is involved in urges to take action: “It’s as if they immediately thought to act on theses bodies”.
In the final part of the study, Fiske asked the men to fill in a questionnaire that was used to assess how sexist they were. The brain scans showed that men who scored highest had very little activity in the prefrontal cortex and other brain regions that are involved with understanding another person’s feelings and intentions. “They’re reacting to these women as if they’re not fully human,” Fiske said.
Does this mean Benny Benassi’s Satisfaction clip would blow their minds? And the next time some leery bloke stares at your boobs, you can dismiss him by saying “get some activity in your prefrontal cortex”? Mind you, my favourite insult is still “you have no internal monologue”.