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Objecting to Objectification: Women’s Collective Action against Sexual Objectification on Television

Abstract

Media often portray women as mere sexual objects, but to date no known research has explored relations between exposure to such media content and willingness to engage in collective action. In the present study, Italian participants (78 men; 81 women) were exposed to a nature TV documentary (Control video), a television clip portraying women as sexual objects (SO video), or to the same sexually objectifying television clip including a commentary against such degrading depiction of women (Critique SO video). After exposure to the Critique SO video, women, but not men, reported greater collective action proclivity and behavioral intention to support a protest against female sexual objectification, as compared to the Control condition. Importantly, results further demonstrated that anger was the mechanism underlying women’s collective action proclivity, as well as intention to react. These findings suggest that media literacy messages in the form of critique videos may be valuable tools to promote more active and critical media consumption and that media specialists, concerned citizens, and social media activists may use such messages to motivate women to collectively take action against sexual objectification.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by PRIN grant number 20123X2PXT_003 (2012) from the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research. We thank Lorella Zanardo for her support on this project.

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Correspondence to Francesca Guizzo.

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Guizzo, F., Cadinu, M., Galdi, S. et al. Objecting to Objectification: Women’s Collective Action against Sexual Objectification on Television. Sex Roles 77, 352–365 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-016-0725-8

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Keywords

  • Mass media
  • Objectification
  • Collective action
  • Media literacy