Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Dawn M. Szymanski

Committee Members

Victor Barr, Gina Owens, Trena Paulus


Research examining tenets of Objectification Theory (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997) has given little attention to increasing our understanding of specific environments and subcultures, such as beauty pageants, cheerleading, and cocktail waitressing that exist within our culture where sexual objectification of women is encouraged, promoted, and socially sanctioned. This qualitative case study of women’s experiences in a sexually objectifying environment includes interviews with 11 women as well as observational data. Data classification via the constant comparative method resulted in nine themes: reasons for involvement, ambivalence, counterfeit intimacy, sexual objectification, resistance strategies, power, negative relationships with women, changes over time, and judgment. Corresponding subthemes are also described and interpretation is provided in light of relevant literature. Women’s experiences in a sexually objectifying environment are further discussed in terms of the need for resources and power and the resulting conflicts that women experience in terms of relational dynamics and personal safety.

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