What is meant by sexual objectification and the problems men face in male objectification?
Sexual objectification of men and women basically means to treat somebody as an object and present them as just a total of their body parts, rather than their personal attributes or characteristics. Sexual characteristics of a person are overweighed than their traits as a human being, and they are looked down upon as mere objects for deriving sexual pleasure. It also means at times, to treat a person with a lesser amount of respect solely based on their physical appearance, with the general idea of sex in mind.
While sexual objectification of women has always been on the front line of worldly issues, we rarely talk about the objectification of men. And well, it might not be very common, but objectifying men certainly do exist. Patriarchy attacks men too, lesser when compared to women but it definitely does attack them too. One of the most rampant exploits of patriarchy that affect men is the sexual objectification of men.
Society pigeon holes males in a specific gender role where they are required to be brave and chivalrous, this gender role of a man is where society derives the picture of a sexually desirable male too. He looks like a hero with a chiseled body and six-packs, a medieval knight or a Viking or any other warrior, there is no space for softness or an ordinary or regular body shape. This sexual objectification affects male self-esteem in a harmful way.
Male objectification- Why is it a problem?
Males are tended to be portrayed as humans who are hypersexual, overactive, emotionally less sensitive, and physically strong. Men with a strong and sexually appealing physique are always treated better than men who are skinny or stout. While we have come across articles and blog posts teaching women how to feel beautiful in their own skin, and that physical appearances can never define you; we haven’t really come across posts that tell men the same thing. So, consider this one. 🙂
How often have you judged a man based on his appearances? Don’t you lie; we know there would have been many instances. Hence, objectifying men is also common, just like it is in the case of women. It is very normal for people to tag people as ‘attractive’ or ‘not attractive’.
In contrast to female objectification, objectifying men does not generally aim at demeaning or belittling them, instead, it is seen as something that boosts their personality as a whole. This, in a way, means that we, as a society, are supporting and rather, encouraging male objectification because a male who conforms to society’s standards is more appreciated, and considered better (in all aspects) than a man who does not.
Just like it’s not correct to categorize a woman according to her waist size, it is not correct either to categorize a man by his abs. Just like the concept behind a woman being fair and lovely is wrong, the idea for a man to compulsorily have a beard is not correct either.
While we do understand the grave concerns underlying female objectification, in the sense that it actually aggravates to an extent that it might even lead to sexual violence at times (in many societies, such objectification of men has also led to the promotion of rape culture among men); we also point out the fact that just because something is less common in comparison to the other, doesn’t mean it’s right or that it isn’t concerning at all.
Role of media in objectifying men
Objectification of both men and women, across social media, has become so common today, that it feels like people have been compelled to accept it as a part of their lives. Sexually arousing pictures of men, who are often portrayed with their shirt buttons open are used to sell almost anything and everything today, ranging from beer to fruit juices to clothes. Such objectification, to persuade the audience and derive their attention, is almost like a bleak, dark aspect of advertising.
While many feminists argue that if men are facing sexual objectification today, it is exactly what they have done for the past so many years, and what is wrong about it if this makes them realize how it feels to be on the receiving end of such trivial, physical and sexual objectification. Well, we cannot and would not deny the fact that women have faced the brunt of it all for as long as we can remember and face it even today, but oppressing everyone equally is not the solution to the oppression of a certain section, is it?
We need to reproach a PERSON for his actions, irrespective of the gender they belong to. If a certain man objectifies a woman by passing a slimy comment on her, and you react by objectifying the man in return, where does it end up? We do not know.
Sexual objectification of men needs to stop
Ever seen an ad portraying a male with a slim body, or maybe whose stature isn’t that appealing? No? We haven’t, either. Showing male body parts in movies and ads is also commonplace today. Well, this again is a result of gender stereotypes, the ones that tell you what your standard height ought to be, or what skin color is perfect. Gender stereotypes and conventional beauty standards have never worked in anyone’s favor, and it’s time we stop defining a person’s worth by the way they look.
Biological differences between men and women and human instincts are naturally designed to be attracted to the opposite gender, sexually as well, and honestly, there is nothing wrong with it. However, the fine line when this attraction starts converting into objectification is what is worrisome. Starting to treat people as objects who can satisfy your sexual desires, and not as humans you are attracted to, is where the problem starts.
Sexual objectification of women is a very serious concern in itself, and we wouldn’t even start to address it here. We believe that objectifying men, however little it be, is also a problem, and we need to stop, as a society. When we as a society work for the common good, it is important to understand how our actions and judgments might be very detrimental to the ones receiving it.
Let’s judging and confining anybody to any restricted role or behavior or physical characteristics. Every person cannot fit into our perceived notions and they do not even need to. Let’s put an end to gender stereotypes and sexual objectification of men and women, of any person of any kind.