Sexual objectification (SO) is an omnipresent experience for women that decreases their quality of life. Researching why SO occurs and is perpetuated can help us understand how to decrease the interpersonal, mental health, and safety consequences women face from being sexually objectified. This presentation looks at sexual objectification through the lenses of two different disciplines: psychology and classics. The psychology component involved an empirical study aimed at better comprehending women’s perceptions of their own SO and the connection SO has to Greek life. Nineteen men from Union College completed two scales to assess their direct and indirect SO of women, and 83 women from Union College reported their perceptions of college men’s SO of women and their own experiences of sexual objectification. Results indicate that as a woman’s experiences of SO increases, so does the degree to which she thinks the average college man sexually objectifies women. The results also demonstrate that women think men sexually objectify women more than men actually report. No connection to Greek life was found. The classics component entailed an examination of Ovid’s Ars Amatoria, an Ancient Roman elegy on dating written around 1 BC. Analyzing Ars Amatoria can help us better understand how SO of women occurs today. Ovid promulgated active and passive gender roles, impossible hypocritical standards, violence, and misogyny. Using modern SO theory and research, we can gain insight into the often-forgotten experience ancient Roman women had. Although written in a vastly different culture and society than today, Ars Amatoria is still relevant to a modern audience and can inform our understanding of SO.
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