The media has objectified women since there has been media. Whether it’s Greek statuary, books, movies, video games, music, or just about anything else, you can find examples of women portrayed as idealized embodiments of erotic fantasy, treated like commodities to be valued on their physical appeal.
Thanks to feminism, there has been a shift away from this. Audiences have started to demand more for female characters and publishers and production companies have responded (thank you, capitalism). It still happens and I could rattle off a list of modern franchises I gave up on mainly for this reason, but there has been some improvement. If nothing else, people are at least conscious of it now. There is enough awareness that when objectifying material comes along, it gets called what it is. There’s room for improvement, but I definitely believe we’re on the upward curve.
We’re starting to have complex female characters who aren’t “drop-dead gorgeous,” female characters who don’t have that lingering close up of their bikini thong, actually have a storyline, serve a purpose beyond a love interest, lean toward more realistic body standards, and sexual objectification of men instead—wait, what?
(Disclaimer: If you read Romance/Erotica, you will hate me by the time you get to the end of this post.)
This is one of the worst methods of attempted feminism I have seen. We can all (at least I certainly hope we can) agree that women shouldn’t be objectified, but…men should??? Consider films such as the Magic Mike franchise *tries not to vomit* or just take a look at the covers in the romance aisle at your local bookstore *vomits*, both of which are tailored to a female audience. It’s basically an exposition of abs and biceps. It is also a direct defiance of feminism. *bashes head against desk*
Feminism is the radical ideology that men and women are equally valuable human beings who should be regarded as human beings. (Crazy, I know.) How are we supposed to treat a human being? The short answer—with respect. That’s a person, not a sex toy or living fantasy. Whether that person—male or female—is willingly being objectified or not (some of them get paid very well to look like that), they still deserve to be treated and viewed like a person.
(And if you want to talk about the whole sexual empowerment thing…that’s a whole other blog post.)
For some reason, a lot of women get upset (and rightfully so) at blatantly sexualized female characters (do I need to list examples?), but then drool over Chris Hemsworth’s latest photoshoot. That’s pretty much a textbook example of hypocrisy. This is one of the main reasons I generally disregard the entire Romance genre with very few exceptions—it’s hollow wish fulfillment and basically porn marketed to women.
Saying it’s alright to have certain expectations/treatment of one gender, but not the other is discrimination, period. The solution to female objectification is not male objectification, that is just redistributed sexism. Sadly, many people seem to take the slew of female-oriented erotic content as progress, but it’s just presenting misandry as the solution to misogyny. Basically, we’re trading smallpox for anthrax.
Objectification is wrong no matter who it is being objectified and it solves nothing.