Immortal Objects: The Objectification of Women as Terror Management

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Book Chapter

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Objectification of Women, Literal objects, Terror management, Mortality salience, Creatureliness

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Philosophical theorizing, research on self-objectification, and the newest empirical research on the objectification of others converge to support the notion that the objectification of women entails rendering women, quite literally, as objects. This chapter begins with a review of this literature and then moves onto the question of why women are viewed as objects. The answer offered is informed by terror management theory, and suggests that the need to manage a fear of death creates a fundamental problem with the physical body, and such difficulties resonate especially in reaction to women’s—menstruating, lactating, childbearing—bodies, and men’s attraction to them. Evidence is presented to support this, and for the position that this situation plays a role in, not just expectations for women to be beautiful, but in the literal transformation of women into inanimate—immortal—objects.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Immortal Objects: The Objectification of Women as Terror Management, in S. J. Gervais (Ed.), Motivation Perspectives on Objectification and (De)Humanization, Springer, p. 73-95