By Natalie Issa
I’ve got a question for you. Well, it’s more than just a question. There’s actually a bit of a debate going on about it. But here it is:
Do men get objectified in the media?
It’s a good question, right? We hear plenty about women getting objectified in the media (because it is a big issue), but no one really addresses the slew of shirtless men paraded across the screens in super hero movies, action movies, chick flicks, advertisements, etc.
What’s the answer? Well, yes and no. It’s a little complicated.
So here’s the thing. Different publications, such as Buzzfeed, have been criticized for their seemingly double standards. They post articles laden with pictures of shirtless male celebrities, singing praises to their shapely derrieres, all the while criticizing people who objectify women.
Just for clarification, the definition of objectification is “to treat someone as an object rather than a person.”
Based off of that definition, articles like these are clear cases of men being objectified.
What about the shirtless men in countless movies and TV shows?
Here’s where things get a little more complicated. You see, there’s this theory called the male gaze. In a nutshell, this concept claims that TV shows, movies, advertisements, etc. are created to cater to straight, white males.
Before you get all fired up and insulted, keep this in mind: According to a report by the Women’s Media Center, women directed 28.7 percent of 2012’s top-grossing films. And women made up only 38 percent of producers, 30 percent of writers, and 11 percent of directors overall in 2012-2013.
So yes, there is a large amount of shirtless men in the media. But they’re in productions directed, written and produced predominantly by men, in an industry that tends to cater to men.
Now, obviously there are some clear exceptions to these rules. Maybe these male directors are directing chick flicks. Maybe they’re only giving their audience what they think they want.
If that’s so, than that’s downright insulting. Why do they assume that all women want to see in movies is shirtless men?
Personally, I find the countless shirtless men in the media perplexing. Like, why do you have to do everything without your shirt on? Do you even own a shirt??
But here’s another thing—think about the male characters that do have multiple shirtless scenes. Like Captain America. Or Thor. Maybe James Bond. And the entire cast of 300 and Magic Mike.
Yes, sometimes it feels like their closet has a suspicious lack of tops. But at least they have personalities, you know? And plot lines. They weren’t just dropped in the middle of the movie to be eye-candy.
Okay and, I realize this is a bit of a generalization. Both male and female characters can be sexualized and have a plot line and personalities. On the other hand, both male and female characters can be completely objectified.
But more often than not, it’s objectified female characters that have the plot line of a rock and the personality of dry toast.
Final consensus? There are definitely problems on both sides. Men and women are objectified in the media in very different ways, and at different levels of severity. However, the film industry is largely run by men and typically tries to target their productions towards men. So I'd say that women usually get the worst of it.
Let’s do this: Why don’t we aim to create well-rounded male and female characters whose main focus isn’t their physicality?
Because there’s nothing wrong with having physically attractive characters or actors. The problem begins when that’s their defining and most important characteristic.
(Image via braelstrom.net/Disney)