Power and Prejudice

Scientific perspectives on power, subtle prejudice, and discrimination

Why Do Grade Schoolers Want To Be Sexy?

Our girls can be police officers—if they don a tight blue top with a mini-skirt and knee high black boots. Once they thrown on their aviators, grab their handcuffs (only a little innuendo here), and strike a seductive pose, our little girls are ready to trick-or-treat. Or is it turn tricks for treats? Read More

I hate to say this, but

I hate to say this, but sexual objectification of women is a result of two major driving forces: males and females.

Men are visual animals. We like attractive women (seemingly to our detriment) and place great value on visual appeal.

Women, vying for male attention, must either A) perk up their assets or B) be a wallflower.

So clearly the male population is to blame for this effect, but how are females to blame? By succumbing to the pressure.

Historically, women have been housewives and men have been the breadwinners, so the need for a woman to be skilled at anything other than housework was simply not there. Which meant they could focus more on looking pretty and less on, say getting a college degree.

Times change, and people change with them, but old habits die hard. Some men can't see women past that old stereotypes, and some women can't see themselves getting a "real" job and fending for themselves. So the old standard remains.

So what should women do? Stop caring about what men think. If you want to be an aerospace engineer, DO IT.

The difference between men and women stems from how far we'll go for each other. "Nerds" are nerds because they don't care about what women think. And they're certainly not "seen for their qualities beyond their looks" either.

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Sarah J. Gervais, Ph.D., is a social-law psychologist at the University of Nebraska.

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