2019 St. George UCAP Conference

Personify vs. Thingify: The Pivotal Role of Objectification in Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

Personify vs. Thingify: The Pivotal Role of Objectification in Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

Lisa Thompson

Philosophers still debate what it means to be a person, but generally “persons” display characteristics such as consciousness, reason, personality, feelings, the exercise of free will, as well as the ability to make moral judgements and form social relationships. Objects, on the other hand, are generally described as “things” lacking cognition, reason, feelings, etc., which are used, controlled, and known by their physical properties. When persons are treated in ways which dissect them from their personal characteristics, they are reduced to the status of objects—“objectified.” Sexual objectification of persons, whether through interpersonal interactions or the media, fragments persons into a collection of sexual parts/functions to be used and consumed by others and is at the heart of sexual abuse and exploitation. This presentation will explore “objectification theory,” categories of objectification, as well as research findings on the impacts of objectification.

As Vice President of Policy and Research for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, Lisa conducts analysis on a wide-ranging web of sexual abuse and exploitation issues, with an emphasis on the public health harms of pornography. She also liaises with public officials, advocates, and academics to promote policies aimed at the prevention of harms associated with issues such as child sexual abuse, child-on-child harmful sexual behaviors, sexual objectification, pornography, stripping, prostitution, sexual trafficking, sexual assault, and more. Lisa routinely speaks and trains on sexual abuse and exploitation topics for a diverse range of audiences.

Lisa joined NCOSE following nearly two years with World Hope International where as Director of Anti-Trafficking, Lisa oversaw its sex trafficking recovery programs in Cambodia, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Lisa served for more than 12 years as the Liaison for the Abolition of Sexual Trafficking for The Salvation Army USA National Headquarters. Lisa is a contributing author to Hands that Heal: International Curriculum for Caregivers of Trafficking Survivors, as well as the book Global Perspectives on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:  Europe Latin America, North America, and Global.

Lisa earned a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Western Kentucky University, and Masters degree in Leadership , Public Policy and Social Issues from Union Institute and University.