Do Guys Really Objectify Scantily Clad Women?

Posted on April 2, 2012 by

You  are probably going to need to be sitting down for this news.  It may shock you quite a bit, girls!

There was a small study done in Princeton in 2008 to determine how men perceive women when women are clothed modestly vs clothed in bikinis.

What I am about to tell you does not apply to ALL men.  But it does apply to some – maybe a lot more than we would imagine as women!  Almost all men do struggle with visual temptation to some degree.   But for some guys, the temptation can be more extreme.  So you must guard your body against all men, other than your husband once you are married!


When guys saw pictures of women fully (modestly) clothed, the men’s brains lit up as recognizing another person with thoughts, emotions and feelings – another human being.  But when the men looked at pictures of women in bikinis, some men’s brains lit up in the area that usually would be active when looking at tools – not people.  And the same men’s brains didn’t show activity in the frontal lobe that shows recognition of a human with emotions, value and feelings.   (The only other time that researchers saw this “Dehumanization” was when people looked at homeless people and try to not think of them as people.)  This did not happen with all the men.  And this phenomenon appears to be overridable by the man.  But it is a BIG deal and I believe all girls and women need to be aware of this reality for some guys.


The fact that guys are SO visual and may be able to objectify us as women means a few things:

1. Some men truly do look at immodestly dressed women as objects – NOT as people.  To some degree, they may not be able to help this response.  Or they may choose to continue to think of women in this way voluntarily.  Either way, this is bad news for us as women!

2. To a guy, a girl in a bikini (or dressed immodestly) vs a girl in her underwear is the same thing.  The lack of clothing tells a lot of guys  that this girl is sexually available to them no matter what her words say.  This is regardless of her intentions and regardless of his intentions!  Your clothing or lack of clothing tells a guy’s brain how sexually available you are to him.  That’s just how guys are built.   We can’t change that.  We can’t tell them to be more like women.  We need to understand the way they are, their weaknesses and areas of temptation, and ask God to show us how He wants us to handle ourselves now that we know this critical information.

3. Some guys may not care at all about a girl’s soul, her emotions, or the consequences of his actions on her future.  Some guys may be willing to say things that will get them what they want – things that they don’t mean, just to be able to use a girl’s body and discard it, leaving her to pick up the broken pieces of her purity, her sexuality, her heart, her soul and filling her with shame, possibly even an STD, possibly an unwanted pregnancy – and some guys won’t necessarily care at all!

It’s really critical for girls to understand, sex doesn’t bond a guy with a girl.   Girls feel bonded with guys when they have sex with them (God designed our hormones to create a permanent bond with a guy when we have sex with him – that’s one of the important reasons God wants us to save sex for marriage)- so many girls think that if they cave in and have sex with a guy, he will be theirs forever!  But that is NOT how men’s brains work.

Men usually bond over time with women.  The harder a woman is to “win” the more valuable she is in his eyes.  The easier she is to conquer, the less valuable she is.  Girls who quickly give sex to guys are seen by guys as “cheap” or “easy”.  Girls who insist on saving sex for marriage are seen by guys as extremely precious, priceless, valuable and worthy of marriage.  God intended sex to ONLY be used in the safe walls of marriage for OUR GOOD and to keep us from getting physically, sexually, spiritually, and emotionally hurt!

3. For a guy to respect you as a human being, a whole person, someone with feelings and thoughts and emotions – he needs to see you fully clothed.  He may not be able to see you as a person if you are dressed immodestly.

4. Spring break, summer break, swimming – these are going to be really tough issues.  Our culture has no problem with bikinis and swimsuits – but guys do!  Some  guys see a woman in a bikini as an object to be used.  That is NOT what God desires guys to see when they look at us!  And that is NOT what I desire guys to see when they look at me or you!


This is something we as women of God need to pray about and seek God’s best for us and for the guys around us.  Maybe we need to wear a t-shirt over our swimwear?  Maybe we need to wear some longer shorts over our swimsuits, too?  Maybe we don’t need to be swimming with guys and presenting this whole difficult tempting situation for them?  I can’t answer these questions for you – that’s something you have to hash out with God.  But please keep in mind – guys are responsible to God for their sin.  We aren’t responsible for forcing a guy to lust after us.  BUT, God does hold us accountable to dress modestly and to keep from purposely being a stumbling block to our dear brothers in Christ.  We are accountable to God for how we act and how we dress and even more importantly, the motives of our heart toward God and toward those around us.


My favorite definition of modesty is “humility in clothing.”  Ask yourself the hard questions about what you want to wear.

  • Why do you want to wear this?  Whose attention are you seeking?
  • Is it possible that this outfit could cause a guy to stumble into lusting over you?  Is that really worth it?
  • Do you pridefully WANT guys to lust over you and WANT that attention from men over your body?  If so, it is time to repent and seek God’s face and seek to honor Him first, not yourself.
  • Do you truly desire Jesus more than anything in the world?  If so, it will show in your choices of clothing.  A woman who has Jesus as Lord will determine to show respect for her body, her sexuality, her Lord and for the visual nature of men by the way she dresses, speaks and acts.
  • If you aren’t sure about an outfit, check with your dad or older brother.  Or check with a wise Christian woman at church.
  • I know this seems really weird for a lot of us.  Many of us don’t think we are pretty enough, “sexy” enough, curvy enough, skinny enough, big enough, small enough… whatever enough to be a temptation to guys.  But the truth is that guys look at women and girls of all shapes and sizes.  They like the variety!  So this does apply to you even if you don’t feel confident in your own skin.  But I do want to encourage you to get to know how beautiful your femininity is to God and what most appeals to God and to guys!  It’s your beautiful feminine spirit that is peaceful and gentle and does not give way to fear. 🙂 (I Peter 3:4)  That gorgeous light in your eyes and that smile of yours that illuminates the whole room – the joy in your heart from loving Christ – THAT is your true beauty, girl!  And THAT is how you attract the godly guy that God has designed for you!


Some general guidelines – the more skin you show, and the more of your female form and curves you reveal – the more of a temptation you are to the guys.  Tight clothing, and plunging necklines, ill-fitting arm holes, bare midriffs, low cut jeans, etc … these are serious problems for our Christian brothers for whom Christ died (and to those guys who are not Christians – it just looks like an all-you-can-eat-buffet).  How can we not do something to give them some relief from the constant sexual temptation they have to bear each day?  Let’s make sure guys can see us as people, as human, as precious and valuable!


Some ways to UP the modesty factor (I am not about measuring hemlines and giving strict rules – these things are some suggestions, but this is between you and God!):

– Skirts (preferably to the knees or lower, not the tight ones) hide the whole crotch, and rear area and will help keep the temptation level much lower WHILE they show off that you are a girl and that you look feminine!

– Flowing pants that don’t reveal the curve of your rear end and show exactly where your crotch is will help keep a guy’s temptation to lust down considerably for most men.

– Tops need to not show any bra straps, cleavage, or midriffs even when you lean over, shouldn’t be skin tight and they need to not be sheer!  Yes, this is frustrating!  Yes, it is harder to find clothing when you add all of these requirements.  But it is worth it in the light of eternity if you can help keep guys from stumbling over your body.  It doesn’t matter what your shape or size or weight is – your body needs to be covered up or you will be a temptation!  You can get modest camis or tank tops to put under more low cut tops to help with this so you don’t have to discard your entire wardrobe!


I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety… not with (extravagant outward adornment) but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.  I Timothy 1:9-10. 

Some guys have more issues with this than others… but how WE dress is our responsibility.   I believe that God desires us to cover our bodies in a way that allows men to treat us with dignity and respect and to help keep them from stumbling into lust.  This protects us from unwanted sexual advances and temptations, and it keeps us from becoming an image in a man’s brain that he can pull up willingly or unwillingly and lust over many times later.

Many of our Christian brothers (including men your father’s age and older!!!) struggle with visual sexual temptation all day long and battle it constantly, trying to avert their eyes, trying not to look at girls through the day, trying to concentrate on Scripture and look at the sidewalk on campus (For Women Only- by Shaunti Feldhahn)…


Let’s have some compassion!  We aren’t made to be visual like they are – but we can appreciate that they have a difficult battle, and we can refuse to be on Satan’s side, bringing them down into sin.  The guys need our prayers, they need our support, they need our willingness to dress modestly to honor the way they are made.  I pray that we might each determine to dress modestly in public and to save our beautiful feminine bodies for our husbands to enjoy in marriage as God designed!


Help us to see if there are things we need to change in our wardrobes!  Help us to decide to dress modestly to honor You, to honor our bodies, to honor our sexuality and to honor the men around us.  Let our attitude of modesty begin in our hearts.  Help us see the beauty of dressing in a feminine, modest way, and how we can better find godly guys with pure desires for us who will treat us so much more like Christ would.  Help us understand the dangers of dressing to attract guys with our bodies, and help us to see that the guys we will catch when we dress immodestly will only care about using our bodies, and won’t necessarily care at all about our hearts and souls.  Let us bring great glory to You with our dress, our sexuality, our purity, our modesty and our humility, Jesus!