As long as I can remember, women have objected to being objectified. And conversely men usually say that they'd not mind that sort of treatment.
It's quite easy to understand why women would object to being viewed as sex objects by others. And I think we can dismiss the apparent male attitude as just wishful thinking: Men want to be sexual objects because they don't feel that women view them that way now.
Well, a study that just came out from Sarah J. Gervais at University of Nebraska-Lincoln adjusts those assumptions a bit. Apparently both men and women tend to view females in terms of body parts yet neither gender views men that way. That's a bit surprising.
The study is published in the June issue of the European Journal of Social Psychology if you want to check it out. Here's a link to it.
Through an interesting group of interactive exercises with a group of 83 undergrads (45 females and 38 males), it was determined that these participants viewed images of average looking men and women differently.
Images of women tended to be broken down to body parts much more often by both males and females than the images of men.
Since the study just used undergrads from a Midwestern US university, the role of socialization might be a root cause but still... you'd expect a big gender difference in how images of men and women are viewed.
I'm sure this will cause some discussion in certain circles. I'm curious about whether this brain processing is only in our culture or if it's a universal thing effecting all people. But don't expect to find women wolf-whistling at men anytime soon. Despite this study, that's almost exclusively a male-thing.