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comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-06-22T22:30:25.841Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I find it unlikely that discussion on this site will be more informative to you than research on your own, beginning with searching the web for related terms.

comment by beoShaffer · 2013-06-22T22:10:52.975Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Prior discussion. Also, the site search function (upper right corner of the screen) is your friend.

comment by Adele_L · 2013-06-22T18:59:53.492Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I also notice I am confused about objectification. I find it easy to point to different things and say this is objectification, and this isn't. But when I try to infer the distinction, I can't specify it accurately enough to make me feel like I understand objectification. This is a problem for me because sometimes people make me feel objectified, and I want to tell them what they are doing and why it hurts, but I don't think I can communicate that well at my current level of understanding.

Anyway, it is easy to point out some first order approximations to the concept, like that it has to do with acting in a way that diaregards one's agency, but I think it is a subtler concept than just that.

comment by Manfred · 2013-06-22T20:43:42.238Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Excellent point. :)

Here's a list of different uses of the word "objectification," in a post by our very own lukeprog:

http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=10323

comment by lukeprog · 2013-06-22T23:50:45.867Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

More recently.

comment by jimmy · 2013-06-22T23:36:56.441Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is a problem for me because sometimes people make me feel objectified, and I want to tell them what they are doing and why it hurts, but I don't think I can communicate that well at my current level of understanding.

Have you tried saying that?

comment by CoffeeStain · 2013-06-22T20:50:54.328Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Why not ask which behaviors and attitudes inflict harm, and then seek a definition of objectification which makes it easier to talk about in that way? I've found this a useful mindset to apply to problems where the status quo reaction is to apply emotional words to emotional problems. It sounds like this is the kind of problem unwrapping you're looking for here, because like me, you worry about the real harm of real people, but are confused about the way that others are talking about it.

A helpful impart of the rationality community to me has been to give myself consent to think about problems in my usual mode, which is reducing them to the non-semantic realities that I actually experience. If a distribution of possible actions has a distribution of necessary outcomes, we have described the system, and then terminology is a useful tool, rather than a bludgeon to beat your social opponents with.

My suspicion is that "objectification" in the minds of social pioneers roughly maps to types of behavior that encourage false beliefs in the (perhaps unwitting) perpetrator. The false belief would be an archetype about a category (like a sex or a gender or our species) that makes it difficult to distinguish between the reality of the presented sexuality and other false, learned tropes that were previously taught (outside of real experience) about that category.

It becomes tricky when archetypes become stereotypes which then become social norms. This can make beliefs about a category actually true. The sentence "men like X" if expanded to "many men that I come into contact with prefer X and it is beneficial to our relationship to act as if this were so" can be a true belief, even if liking X is not a universal trait of men (i.e. it's a social norm ingrained into men by high-minded city-slickers, or insert-your-favorite-group-meme-here). What's important, then, is the real future relationships you might have with actual members of that category, not the idealized version of the category itself. And thusly important is the effect that an experience has on your actions toward those members.

What to you is appreciation of the nude form? Gazing with scientific interest at the biology of human anatomy when it happens to not be wearing cotton? Appreciation of your own sexuality when your eyes see a sexual image? Pornography use? Marble statues in museums?

What are the real outcomes of choosing these behaviors versus their alternatives? If chosen, what are the real outcomes of some mindsets and their alternatives?

comment by ikrase · 2013-06-22T20:48:05.606Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ozy Frantz had some good stuff on this but it's gone.

I'd say a lot of it seems to be about a lack of reciprocality.

comment by Locaha · 2013-06-22T18:52:07.025Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Where do we draw the line between Appreciation of the nude form/sexuality and Sexual objectification?

Easy. If your "appreciation of the nude form/sexuality" changes the way you interact with the person in a non-sexual context, you are engaging in objectification.

comment by TrE · 2013-06-22T20:07:54.715Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is it sufficient that you interact with them differently than with others? I think that's too narrow, because then everyone, both men and women, would be objectifying each other constantly.

The origin of the word "objectification is the thought that under some circumstances, you cease to view the other human as a person with desires, fears, wishes and views to be respected, treating them as a mere object for achieving other ends. For example, in emergency situations such as traffic accidents, objectifying bystanders can be useful. You, call 911, you, secure the accident area and place warning signs, *you, help me free these injured from their car.

There is no sharp boundary of what is and what isn't socially acceptable, so when we talk about objectification, it's good to have this in mind and remember the numerous ways words can be wrong. If we know which behaviours are okay and which are not, we don't need to bring forth an explicit definition.

comment by DanArmak · 2013-06-22T20:59:00.918Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If we know which behaviours are okay and which are not, we don't need to bring forth an explicit definition.

But when people inevitably disagree about which behaviors are okay and which are not, there cannot be a dialogue between them without explicit definitions. Even if you just want to make sure there are no misunderstandings, and when we all say we know which is which we are talking about the same things, you need definitions.

comment by Mestroyer · 2013-06-22T20:36:48.764Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Is it objectification if you disapprove of it, and appreciation of the nude form otherwise?

comment by ikrase · 2013-06-22T20:44:41.889Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'd say it's more principled than that.

comment by Mestroyer · 2013-06-22T20:47:28.967Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Your approval/disapproval can itself be based on principles. But is there ever a case where you would approve of objectification, or disapprove of appreciation of the nude form which was not objectification?

comment by Manfred · 2013-06-22T23:43:47.339Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, there is such a thing as decorum.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2013-06-23T02:34:02.315Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Depublishing.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-06-23T02:33:06.848Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In the future, if you're not sure about the suitableness of a topic on this site, I recommend asking before posting about it.
The Open Thread threads are a good place to do that.

WRT the topic itself, I encourage thinking less about drawing abstract lines between ill-defined categories, and thinking more about the likely consequences of actions.

comment by shminux · 2013-06-23T02:00:37.703Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You say "sexual objectification" like it's a bad thing. Like for anything else with confusing connotations, the standard reply is "taboo objectification".

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-06-22T23:54:09.386Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The clearest explanation I've seen of this issue is this Pixel Poppers post.

comment by lukstafi · 2013-06-22T19:28:28.458Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I see it this way. It is "objectification" when it's used to attract attention. It's "for the purpose of appreciation" when it's used to enrich emotional reaction (usually of the aesthetic evaluation, but sometimes of the moral evaluation). So it is hard to say just by the content, but if the content is both erotic and boring it's objectification.

comment by Locaha · 2013-06-22T19:37:51.461Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Erm... what are you talking about? Sexual objectification is done by one person to another.

comment by lukstafi · 2013-06-22T20:09:57.100Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Although I wouldn't say this, I don't see how my comment contradicts this.

comment by lukstafi · 2013-06-22T20:00:51.275Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Let's take "the sexual objectification of women in some advertisement" as an example. Do you mean that sexual objectification takes place when the actress feels bad about playing in an erotic context, and agreed only because of commercial incentive, or something similar? ETA: I guess objectification generally means not treating someone as a person. With a focus on this explication, objectification in (working on) a film (advertisement is a short film) would be when the director does not collaborate with the actors, but rather is authoritarian in demanding that the actors fit his vision. ETA2: and objectification in the content of a film would be depicting an act of someone not treating another as a person; in case of "sexual objectification" depicting sexual violence.