For my dissertation I asked the question – 

Does objectification of women still exist in 21st Century photography?

The purpose of this dissertation was to access and analyse if objectification of women in photography still exists in the 21st century. Then to research into artists and read books (stated on my bibliography on blog) to back up my opinion and facts found. My essay last year I managed to get a C- so I wanted to achieve a better grade this year.

Artists such as Lara Mulvey cited in Charles Senyasamore (no date) “Visual Pleasure And Narrative Cinema” writes about how woman are only objects to be gazed upon rather then admired by men. Men are seen as the spectators whilst women are more known as the spectacles, Spectacles being the objects of pleasure. Over the last century in particular women have been objectified in the world of advertisement and in the world of media. “In an add for reebok shoes the woman see’s a naked female torso, eyes averted. In an ad for Lily of France Lingerie, she sees a naked female torso; eyes shut; for opium perfume, a naked woman, back and buttocks bare, falls facedown from the edge of a bed” – The beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf (1990) The idea that women are a sexual object to sell a product, not just to men but also to the reader, making them feel like they have to look a certain way to be the woman on the advertisement. The way in which the advertisers use the models involved is in a way that the model is put in a desirable pose, but is it desirable? Or is it just objectification for the woman? 

The paragraph above looks into how different books have written about objectification and whether media has had an impact, it dwelves deeply into this further into the essay you go and looks into how different artists work can be seen as self-objectification and how they are making themselves an object in 21st century photography. Now talking about 21st century I had to make sure not to mention history too much and keep my dates all in the 21st century (obviously) although when doing research that’s really hard seeing as objectification of women stems back as far as anyone can remember, its only media and habits that have made it as bad as what it is today. I’d find it really interesting if I had the chance to look right back into the history of when and where it all began.

I look into modern artists and their work and like above how they sometimes self objectify. Artists such as Bearni Searle’s and Thomas Ruff. I found their work really interesting and intriguing and loved questioning it in my dissertation. After this I went on to talking about photographers that actually objectify their models in the, photographers such as Terry Richardson. I chose to use him as he is highly looked down upon in the industry from not only models but other photographers.

The best direction to take after that was too talk about how the media and advertising in 21st century affects objectification of women and how the public acts. I looked into many adverts made by various artists, ‘Sisley’ & Tom Ford to name a couple..

Its not only clothing advertisements that are demoralising too woman in this century, its areas such as perfume, underwear and other campaigns too. Over the last few years many campaigns have been brought up as being both objectifying towards women, promoting violence, or selling sex. One for example would be the (2007) – Dolce and Gabbana campaign for their ‘Ready To Wear’ collection, although being well famed for their sexy advertisments, they took this one too new levels. The ad feautures a young, hazy looking girl being painfully pinned down by one man and surrounded by five more. The ad itself almost glorifies Gang Rape and violence. However when questioned about the advertisement Stefano Gabbana stated the following ; “ the advert was intended to show “an erotic dream, a sexual game”. Despite the unclear nature of the ad, the controversy only went on to raise Dolce & Gabbana’s profile in the fashion industry” Not only is this one advertisment which demoralises any woman completely, it’s one in which makes a woman feel uncomfortable and offended. However despite this it has gone on too be one of the companies best adverts known to the public and has raised their name in the fashion industry.

Above is the just a piece of the paragraph I completed next, I went into looking at not only fragrance add but broadened it into fashion as well as this is a big part of objectifying advertisements in this century. Doing the research you don’t realize how many of these sort of adverts are out there and how oblivious you are to them everyday, because your so used to seeing them, ‘sex sells’ has become the norm. Not only is this demoralizing women of the 21st century but its just going to keep happening in centuries to come.

The 21st century has been filled with ad campaigns and photography unbearably and continuously objectifying women just to sell products or make things seem better then what they are. Not only has it made this generation we are in self-objectifying and self judgemental but it has made people loose all morals in what they believe in and what is and isnt right. More and more ad campaigns like the ones above are being promoted yearly and it is causing this generation too change drastically. Children and young adults growing up before their time and reinacting things in which they see in the media, believing not only are they being told to be like that, but thats its right. Vanity and self obsessity has never been as bad as what it has been in the last 10 years and its only going to get worse. Objectifying woman has become the norm in 21st century photography and although looked down upon by many artists and people it cannot be changed, the world we live in is one in which sex sells, demoralising women sells and self objectifying sells. Until the media and society stops representing glamourised degradation amongst women and they are looked upom as women and not objects then the world isnt going to change. Its a well known tradition and lifestyle which this generation has conformed to as will the next.

Total Word Count – 3624

I brought my dissertation to a close by summing up my opinion on what this is doing to our society and how I believe that each generation is just conforming to the previous ones mistakes. Also answering my original question ‘Does objectifictaion of women still happen in 21st century photography’ – the answer being yes in my eyes.


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