“I’m not an object for the viewing pleasure of men.” This is a phrase that has been uttered repeatedly by women everywhere, and it is a true statement – a statement said out of aggravation with the objectification of the female body. However, there exists a double standard! This is the societal norm that shames the objectification of women but allows the objectification of men. People get all in a huff when men address the body of women as if it were a product for purchase. While objectification of women has been occurring for centuries, men are being displayed as merchandise and objects in the modern world as well. Why is it okay to sexually objectify the bodies of men but not okay to do the same to women? If we wish to have gender equality, then there truly needs to be equality – meaning no objectifying anyone for any reason.
I recently asked a male friend of mine how he felt about the objectification of men, to which he replied, “When men objectify women it is sexist, but when women objectify men it’s liberating.” This statement threw me for a loop. Is treating men in the same negative way women have been treated for years really liberating? Women have been thrown into media campaigns using their bodies as the selling tools for as long as media has been running. While this is wrong and should be monitored closely, are men afforded the same thing? For example, Kraft recently put out a series of ads for salad dressing in which they used scantily clad men laying in blatantly sexual positions holding salad dressing bottles. How is this any different than companies using women or their sexuality as a way to make a profit? The answer is that there is no difference. The media is not the only bad guy in this situation, women are causing this issue as well. I have personally heard many conversations among women of all ages where men are spoken about as if they are pieces of meat and only good for one thing. However, these same women would later become enraged when men speak about women in the exact same way. Men are sexualized just as much as women, and no one has taken the time to think about the way this effects the everyday man. Women are constantly being told that they do not need to look like the women in the magazines because the women in the magazines don’t even look like that. But who’s telling guys that they don’t need to look like the super model in the sports wear ad, or the basically naked man in the Kraft commercial? No one. The sexualisation of men is just as sexist and demeaning as the sexualisation of women. It is not liberating and should stop just as much as sexualizing women should stop.
Let’s take an example that hits more close to home. Canadians have just elected a new prime minister; a man who I will admit is very attractive. However, media has begun to use this fact in a sexual, and in my opinion, inappropriate way. While Trudeau has not made a statement saying that these memes, tweets, and posts are affecting him in any way, I would argue that it is highly inappropriate. If we had elected a female prime minster and similar posts were being made about her the country would be in an uproar; women would be rioting in the streets. Men would be blamed for slanderous statements and human rights called to question. Yet, few have taken a negative stand on the sexualisation of our current prime minister. This points blatantly to the fact that our society is completely accepting of the sexualisation of men, or so they seem to be. No one is an object for the viewing pleasure of anyone, not a single person on this earth is here to be seen as an object. Gender equality means equality, which means that all of us are seen as equal. Equal people, not objects.