Sexual objectification is the act of treating a person merely as an instrument of sexual pleasure, making them a “sex object”. Objectification more broadly means treating a person as a commodity or an object, without regard to their personality or dignity. Objectification is most commonly examined at the level of a society, but can also refer to the behavior of individuals.
The concept of sexual objectification and, in particular, the objectification of women, is an important idea in feminist theory and psychological theories derived from feminism. Many feminists regard sexual objectification as deplorable and as playing an important role in gender inequality. However, some social commentators argue that some modern women objectify themselves as an expression of their empowerment over men, while others argue that increased sexual freedom for women and for gay and bisexual men has led to an increase of the objectification of men. The idea of sexual objectification has also been an important area of discussion and debate in the area of sexual ethics and the philosophy of sex.