So many people that attempt a gender-reversal in which to objectify men instead of women do it completely, totally wrong. Showing images of muscular men flexing their muscles is not sexual objectification. It doesn’t accomplish the objective of reversing the gender roles of men and women. And it fails to give men the slightest taste of what it’s like to be a woman surrounded by sexually objectified images of women.
The factors that make images of women sexually objectifying are the stripping away of human qualities and the removal of agency. Images of hyper-sexualised, objectified women affirm the sexual availability and violable status of women. In ads, they conflate the characteristics of the woman with the characteristics of the object being sold, thus relegating the woman to an object. Just a picture of a naked or partly naked attractive person does not an objectifying image make. Sweaty, hairy men fresh from the gym are subjects of their environments, not objects.
You don’t see fashion photographs of helpless, bruised men lying near garbage dumps that vividly suggest brutal victimisation. You don’t see used car ads depicting ~sexy~ men’s bodies with jokes about being able to enjoy the man even though you’re not the first to have him. You don’t see awareness campaigns about testicular cancer that focus on SAVE THE BALLS and lament the loss of manliness after orchiectomy.
If you want to do a proper gender swap to give men an idea of how sexual objectification affects women, you can’t just switch out feminine women and insert masculine men, as if femininity were not an inherent component of sexual objectification. What the fashion and advertising industries do to women, you have to do to men. Get rid of the fucking muscle men. Get a pretty face skinny boy and put him in makeup; impractical, feminine-coded clothing; and a pose that looks explicitly like he wants to get spanked. If men squirm in discomfort when they see it, you know you did it right.
It is true, and very much to the point, that women are objects, commodities, some deemed more expensive than others - but it is only by asserting one’s humanness every time, in all situations, that one becomes someone as opposed to something. That, after all, is the core of our struggle.
Andrea Dworkin, Woman Hating
Andrea Dworkin, Woman Hating
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