objectification, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: In this television advertisement for the Fiat 500 Abarth, a man has a passionate encounter with a seductive Italian woman, who turns out to be a car. Literally. I use this clip to teach the concept of sexual objectification. First, I have my students read Caroline Heldman's essay on how to identify sexual objectification in media images. In this essay, Heldman defines the term as follows: "If objectification is the process of representing or treating a person like an object, then sexual objectification is the process of representing or treating a person like a sex object, one that serves another’s sexual pleasure." I then screen this Fiat commercial in class and have students deconstruct it, using Heldman's 7-item Sex Object Test (SOT) as a resource to guide our analysis. This approach gives us a lot to talk about, including the way the woman in the advertisement stands in for an object, the interchangeability of sex objects (she only speaks Italian and appears to be incomprehensible to the fantasizer), the way in which her body is literally branded with the Abarth logo, and the ejaculatory imagery. Instructors can go on to discuss the harm associated with sexual objectification, which Heldman addresses in Part 2 of her series on sexual objectification, and which is also discussed in the films Killing Us Softly and Miss Representation.
Submitted By: Michelle Sandhoff