Objectifying a woman's body in a relationship might lead to sexual pressure and coercion, a new study has claimed.
It was found that men who frequently objectify their partner's bodies by excessively focusing on their appearance are more likely to feel shame about the shape and size of their partner's body which in turn was related to increased sexual pressure (i.e., the belief that men expect sex and that it was a woman's role to provide sex for her partner) and sexual coercion, both in general and through violence and manipulation.
Researchers suggested that being more aware of how and when one thinks of their partner as an object, sexually or otherwise, could help relationship partners avoid sexual pressure and coercion and increase communication and respect within their relationship.
The data also supported the idea that women internalize objectification from their partners. This internalization was related to feeling shame about their bodies, a decrease in asserting themselves, and a decrease in expressing what they do and do not want to do sexually.
Activists should continue their work reducing the objectification of women in our culture, such as through the recognition and removal of objectifying images in the media. However, as male objectification of women was more common than female objectification of men, the onus was on men to reduce objectification and sexual violence. It would be of utmost importance that activists and educators work with men to reduce the objectification of women, both in general and in the context of romantic relationships.
The research is published in the Psychology of Women Quarterly, a SAGE journal.