Some anti-feminists argue that an egalitarian society, or a world run by women, would be the inverse of a patriarchy, except with women at the helm. Some say that if women were “empowered” they would also treat men the way they themselves are currently treated, in other words, badly.
I beg to differ. Women cannot rape and impregnate anyone against their will for a start, and I doubt many of them would if they could.
An intangible sickness of the soul lingers among any society where objectification of people is acceptable. Children have been objectified as a group, alongside women, for sometime. Animals too. But we are beginning to see an increasing objectification of men. Not by women, of course; we don’t yet have the power to run mass billboard and TV commercial campaigns. It’s still men in the driving seat. In fact, it’s gay men who run the fashion industry and so it was only a matter of time before we would see them using the power of their class (male) to promote sexualised images of men in the mainstream media. As though two wrongs make a right.
But emphasis on men’s faces and bodies is escalating in an unprecedented way. Personally, I don’t understand the premise, or garner how an image of someone you cannot touch, smell or converse with could possibly be interesting. A flat 2D image on a page is irrelevant to my life and this makes me even more confused about the male obsession with objectifying women.
Very often the images we do see of men are not attractive to women, perhaps because they’re presented in the typical style of patriarchal imagery, which is that of sado-masochism: hyper masculinity or passive submission. They are also homoerotic insofar as they represent the kind of men that other men believe women desire but secretly enjoy looking at themselves. How many women were asked their opnion on the direction and casting of this film, for example?
My guess is not many. It seems that both gay and het men’s wet dreams contain muscular, single-minded warriors. Sometimes the stereotypical gender imagery might be tweaked slightly (in Conan, the hero sports long hair) but the gender representation of females in films remains rock solid, and when women are allowed to transgress their typical look or role, it is usually to titillate men.
It may be that the majority of real women prefer more feminized, androgynous looking men. It may be that they feel safer with these men and that the man-as-protector fantasy primarily exists in the minds of men. For as we know, women and their children are more likely to be killed by the kids’ father or a lover than by anyone else. Given this reality, why on earth would women be attracted to dangerous-looking men? Have they been socially conditioned into doing so? It’s an evolutionary dead-end.
So… Here are a few pics of some androgynous men (compared to the mainstream view of how a man should look) :
[And I realise I may have just destroyed the crux of my argument by objectifying Johnny Depp, but I still wanted to make the point that hyper-masculine men might be a male fantasy, not a female one.]
In Japan, host clubs are an interesting phenomenon. Here is a youtube film of a western man strolling about the streets of Japan. The male journalist is absolutely affronted by the fact that men are lined up as eye candy trying their very best to be sexy for women’s delight, and using classically feminine body language to boot. He is visibly uncomfortable by what he’s witnessing. I’m not surprised. It must be like looking in the mirror and seeing yourself for the first time.
The man pictured in the screenshot below is not the typical masculine fantasy that Hollywood directors believe women are attracted to, and yet his target market is heterosexual women with cash to burn.
Women pay to spend an evening with a particular man, usually making it a ladies night out. They may flick through a magazine of the men, who tend to wear make-up and have long hair. Sex is not part of the equation (and even if it were, women cannot harm men through the sex act of intercourse. They cannot impregnate him, the way that a punter visiting a prostitute can. THey probably will not act out their deepest sadistic fantasies that they have learned in porn, the way men do with women in prostitution. In fact, one could say that the attraction of host clubs is that women are able to spend time with men without having demands placed on them. That’s all women ask of men. It’s not much is it. “Engage with me without making any demands.” )
Although they are taking place in a patriarchy and, as such, the men involved still have the upper hand over the paying female customers, I don’t want to justify male host clubs. Being “like men” is not going to liberate us. Jumping on the patriarchal bandwagon and objectifying men, as they do to us isn’t going to get us anywhere. Women don’t have the moral highground and so I am not arguing from a moral point of view. I simply hope for a future where every person is seen for who they are.