McNair Scholars Research Journal


Traditionally, social norms have dictated certain gender roles for men and women. Men have generally been regarded as dominant, masculine, and independent, whereas women are often depicted as weak, sensitive and dependent (Basow, 1986). In contemporary society, however, women are free to adopt more flexible gender roles, ranging from those traditionally regarded as “masculine,” to those considered more “androgynous,” to the more stereotypical female gender roles. Some women, nonetheless, continue to adopt traditional gender roles in which self-objectification may persist. According to Calogero (2013), “self-objectification occurs when the objectifying gaze is turned inward, such that women view themselves through the perspective of an observer and engage in chronic self-surveillance” (p. 312). The literature suggests that certain factors may support women’s ability to adopt more varied gender roles and avoid self-objectification. This paper will review the literature on the factors that cause, prevent and protect women from self-objectification.