Colorado College psychology professor Tomi-Ann Roberts was allegedly sexually harassed by Harvey Weinstein in college, according to a 2017 New York Times article. Today, she seeks to educate others about the dangers of objectification.
Roberts will lecture on the connection between the #MeToo movement and objectification theory on Thursday, Sept. 26, from 2:30 p.m to 5 p.m in the Ubuntu Room at the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center.
The lecture, titled “Objects in the Mirror are Closer than They Appear,” is hosted by the Women’s and Gender Studies program and is part of a new annual lecture series, according to assistant professor of psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies Kathryn Holland. Holland said they will host a speaker who represents an intersection between the program and another department.
“This year, we wanted to highlight a feminist psychologist, and Dr. Roberts is a groundbreaking feminist theorist and researcher in the field of psychology,” she said.
Objectification theory is a framework for understanding the consequences of being female in a culture that objectifies the female body, according to Holland. She said the #MeToo movement helped raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of sexual harassment and assault.
“The sexual objectification of women, reducing women’s existence and value to their bodies and body parts, fuels sexual harassment and assault,” she said in an email. “Dr. Roberts will discuss the theory and its connection to #MeToo in more detail in her lecture.”
The lecture will also explore the ways that objectification theory has been influential in academics and public policy, according to the UNL Events page.
In 1997, Roberts co-authored an article proposing a theoretical perspective about the psychology of sexual objectification, arguing that it is a form of sexism. She also co-authored an article titled “Objectification Theory” for “Psychology of Women Quarterly,” which is the most cited article in the journal’s more than 40-year history, according to the UNL Events page.
“Decades of research illustrate that objectification is harmful to women and girls,” Holland said. “For instance, being objectified is associated with self-objectification, [or viewing the self as an object], body monitoring, shame, anxiety, depression and disordered eating.”
Shari Stenberg, interim director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, said the program wanted to invite a speaker who would reach students, faculty, alumni and the Lincoln community.
“Dr. Roberts, whose work as a scholar and advocate is both groundbreaking and far-reaching, fit that bill,” she said in an email. “With a focus on objectification of girls and women, and a connection to the #MeToo movement, her talk could not be more timely or necessary.”
Holland said she believes the lecture will resonate with the audience because of the topic’s timeliness and the consequences of objectification in people’s lives.
“These issues have been and continue to be relevant on college campuses,” she said.
Stenberg said she hopes the audience will leave with a deeper understanding of how common and harmful the objectification of girls and women is.
“Girls and women internalize the message that their appearance determines their value, which has crippling effects on their sense of identity and worth,” she said. “Dr. Roberts can help us think about how to challenge and intervene in these messages, so that we raise and educate girls to understand their inherent value.”