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A sex object is a person that another person sees as only being valuable for their sexual desirability or attractiveness. When someone is viewed as a sex object, we say they have been objectified. People of any gender can be viewed as sex objects.
While the exact origin of the term sex object is unknown, people typically believe it came into usage sometime between 1910 and 1930.
While it’s a positive thing to be viewed as sexually desirable, being a sex object carries negative connotations. That’s because the word suggests that a person has little redeeming qualities or value beyond their sexual attractiveness. When someone is seen as a sex object, it matters little if they are intelligent, athletic, compassionate, or any other host of other positive things.
As a result, people viewed as sex objects are often used for sexual gratification before being quickly discarded by their intimate partners. While someone may see another person they know as a sex object, sex objects may also be strangers. For example, prostitutes and the actors and actresses in pornographic films are typically seen as sex objects because their profession emphasizes their sexuality and desirability above all else.
When people are viewed as sex objects, they aren't usually viewed as whole people. They may instead be viewed as parts, like an ample pair of breasts or a defined set of abs. This kind of fetishizing is usually seen as dehumanizing.