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nikipedia's avatar

What does it mean to "objectify" someone?

Asked by nikipedia (27300 points ) January 22nd, 2009

How do you treat a person like an object? Is this just another word for being callous and disregarding someone’s feelings? It seems like there’s more to it than that, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

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14 Answers

pekenoe's avatar

You are going to open up that can o worms, subjective / objective

I would say that to objectify someone is to depersonalize / dehumanize them.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I think the philosopher Martha Nussbaum has it:

* Instrumentality – treating as a tool for one’s own purposes;
* Denial of autonomy – treating as if lacking in self-determination;
* Inertness – treating as if lacking in agency;
* Ownership – treating as if owned by another;
* Fungibility – treating as if interchangeable;
* Violability – treating as if permissible to smash;
* and the denial of subjectivity – treating as if there is no need to show concern for the ‘object’s’ feelings and experiences.

I’ve gone through this with a few people and the above description rings bitterly true.

wundayatta's avatar

Feminists and maybe even non-feminists seem to complain that men judge women by their beauty and sexiness only, and nothing else. Women become sex objects. They are valuable only insofar as they please the man sexually and confer status upon him because of their beauty.

The opposite gender objectification is when women treat men as success objects. The women don’t care about anything but the size of the man’s wallet.

cwilbur's avatar

It’s ignoring the individual personhood. When a man treats a woman as if she is interchangeable with any other woman, that’s objectifying her.

If the man doesn’t care about her feelings because he’s only interested in what use she is to him (as in, sexually), that’s objectifying her. If he doesn’t care about her feelings for other reasons—because she’s an ex and he’s tired of the drama and just wants her to GO AWAY—that’s not really objectifying her.

cookieman's avatar

@daloon So what happens when those two types marry each other?

leading question

unused_bagels's avatar

definitely means to dehumanize a person. like using words like sand n@!#$r or chink, or terrorist, makes them easier for people to scream for their blood.
Oops, got a bit political on that one.

nebule's avatar

I’m just about to start studying philosophy so i need to start getting my head round these things… omg what have i let myself in for!

some schools of thought would suggest that we are all merely objects anyway and that therefore it is not possible to depersonalise anything since we are all objects and therefore subjective and can never just see a box as a box…

she’s making it up!!!

LKidKyle1985's avatar

It is a pretty broad term that can be applied in many different situations. However, generally speaking when you objectify someone you typically ignore their qualities that make them human, and only acknowledge their other qualities. For example, strippers are objectified and the only quality that is important is their ability to attract.

wundayatta's avatar

@cprevite: They stay together until the man thinks she looks too old, and then she takes him for half his estate—or rather, half his visible estate. Unless they signed a prenup, in which case she gets whatever she agreed to in the beginning.

He’s a john. She’s a ho. Everyone’s happy.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, the definition could include those words, it comes from regarding the person as an object, callously disregarding feelings, or individual traits. It specifically mean seeing a person as an object, such as a statue with no human characteristics.

jackfright's avatar

Theres a girl in my office that i often think of as a table.
she just sort of stands around holding things.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Silly humans, we objectify the person and personify the object.

All hail the mighty ego!

longtresses's avatar

To paint a picture for the concept of “objectifying”:

We objectify animals all the time.

An example would we when I first brought a puppy into my house. My sister never liked “dogs”, so she never read too much into the new member of the house. All these years he was NOTHING to her but a furry thing that yapped and demanded food, sometimes cute but most of the time ignore-able. What depth? Just a dog.

Similar to how some girls would stuff a Chihuahua into their purse, treating them like a doll.

A well-publicized case of John Lennon’s murder was due to the murderer’s objectification of Lennon as a celebrity. “I feel that I see John Lennon now not as a celebrity. I did then. I saw him as a cardboard cutout on an album cover. I was very young and stupid, and you get caught up in the media and the records and the music. And now I’ve come to grips with the fact that John Lennon was a person. This has nothing to do with being a Beatle or a celebrity or famous.”

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

My take on when someone objectifies another they make the person something more or less than the person is. They mold that person into something they want to see that person as, usually for their pleasure of gain. A woman sees a man as this hunk, Casanova, etc because he is the lead singer in a band she so likes. He is not really seen as a person of such but as a representative of excitement, sexual enjoyment, rebellion, etc.

Like the guy who see the woman as this hot bikini model, and in his mind made her to be this person without even considering what type of person she really is, or her wants dreams, etc; but only what he wants her to be. In ways objectifying someone is like a byproduct idolization of someone.

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