Playgirl folded in 2008 — and in the years since then, a handful of blogs have taken up the mantle of shamelessly objectifying men. There’s Jezebel’s Thighlights, the work of BuzzFeed writers like Katie Heaney and Matt Bellassai, and the Cut’s own Dong Watch and Male Gaze. But does doing this make us hypocrites? By objectifying men, do we undermine our criticism of those who would objectify us?
Yesterday, Daily Beast writer Emily Shire argued that Jezebel’s nude rendering of Disney princes “perpetuates the same pressure on men to exhibit a certain physique that [Jezebel] critiqued Disney of doing to women.” That may be. But Shire has missed what makes exerting that pressure so fun. “Not being objectified” is just one of the many advantages of being male. When we selectively revoke this freedom from body scrutiny, we don’t do anything to diminish the meaningful economic and reproductive advantages men enjoy.
Put another way: We will stop Dong Watch once there’s a female president, zero wage gap, and Swedish-level paid parental leave; once tampons, birth control, and abortions are all available free and on-demand.
Here’s a handful of recently objectified men, and why I think they’ll be okay.
Jon Hamm: No critically acclaimed human G.I. Joe ever lost a role because his dick was too big. Unlike a face that’s too pretty or a body that’s too large, you can just put a dick away.
World Cup Soccer Players: Slate’s Amanda Hess explained this one best. Unlike their underwatched, underpaid female counterparts, male professional athletes don’t need to be conventionally good-looking in order to get media coverage and corporate endorsements. “When it comes to coverage of male soccer, sexual objectification is the icing, not the cake,” she wrote.
Justin Theroux: The son of a journalist and a corporate lawyer, Theroux is white, male, privately educated, and handsomely compensated. Through marriage, he will reportedly combine his fortunes with Jennifer Aniston, who is worth $150 million.
Gaston, Prince Eric, and Aladdin: They’re made-up animated characters.
Of course, most people don’t object to objectification because they’re worried about the objectified party. (In fact, because beauty is a privilege, we must hear arguments that objectification is a compliment.) Shire’s concern is instead for the self-image of the girls and boys who internalize Disney body standards: waists so small that the princesses would snap, shoulders so large the princes would topple. “That physical insecurity can apply especially when it comes to the part of the male anatomy so glorified and critiqued in ‘Disney Dudes’ Dicks,’” Shire wrote. But again, this argument ignores the power imbalance that gives the joke its context. Disney is a corporation that makes children’s movies whose characters — licensed for dolls and fruit snacks and lunch boxes — are more or less unavoidable. Jezebel is a site for grown-ups known for its frequent satire of such media. Disney is still the dominant force here, dick drawing or no dick drawing.
I could tell you that the Dong Watch is our attempt to show men how it feels to be objectified, either to make them sympathetic to our cause or out of pure retribution. But either would be false. Male objectification isn’t about making men feel bad. It’s about not caring how men feel. Or at least, putting it aside long enough to think about what we desire. As long as the covers of men's and women’s magazines are both devoted to what men want, that will feel pretty cathartic.
Most Viewed Stories
Looks Like Kate Middleton Is Enjoying the View in Canada
Brad Pitt Fights Back Against Angelina Jolie and Her Plot to ‘Destroy’ Him
Trump Campaign Manager Accidentally Refers to His ‘Abuse’ of Women on Live TV
Megyn Kelly Roasts Trump’s Campaign Manager for Claiming He Doesn’t Make Sexist Comments
Finally Someone Called Donald Trump a Giant Baby and It Was Michelle Obama
What It’s Like to Be a Female Reporter Covering Donald Trump
22 Intimate Lost Photos of Marilyn Monroe
Prince Married to Commoner Still Too Good to Tweet
Democratic Women Senators Are Very Concerned About Donald Trump’s Weight
It’s Finally Possible to Understand What Happened to Amanda Knox
From Our Partners
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Love and War FeaturesThe Novelist Disguised As a Housewife
Shirley Jackson wrote 17 books while raising four children — and she couldn't have had a successful career without them.Ava DuVernay on Hollywood Racism, Modern-Day Slavery, and Why She’s Still an Optimist
The director, whose new documentary The 13th chronicles America’s history of racial subjugation, talks to Rebecca Traister about Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the modern criminal-justice system.What No One Tells Couples Trying to Conceive
It helps to be rich.The Hidden Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
A segregated unit of mathematicians born of desperation during World War II became the secret to NASA’s success.Slut-Shaming Squids Are Everywhere
The “Bermuda Square” comic strip is back.Santigold’s New Video Is the Result of a Spontaneous Run-in With Kara Walker
The collaboration that dreams are made of.Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield Spotted Together Again, Love Might Be Real
They could be back together ahh!Teen, Forced to Go on Vacation With Her Family, Calls 911
The logical decision.Report: Hearst Fired Seventeen EIC Michelle Tan During Her Maternity Leave
Tan had been at the magazine for about two years.Good Morning America Host Amy Robach Apologizes for Saying ‘Colored People’ on Air
She quickly apologized.
That’s one way to do it.Don’t Mess This Up, Mischa Barton
Marissa Cooper is poised for a comeback ... maybe.California Votes to Remove Time Limit on Prosecuting Rape Cases
In light of the Bill Cosby case.Beyoncé’s Behind-the-Scenes Lemonade Photos Belong in a Museum
She had the "Boycott Beyoncé" sign already in formation on set.The Rise of the Male Celebrity Full-Frontal
An ex-publicist explains.Gabby Douglas Will Be a Miss America Judge
The gold-medal gymnast will help choose the 2017 pageant winner.Camille Becerra’s Photo Diary of Rockaway Beach
An ideal trip to add and cross off your summer bucket list.Sorry Nerds, Ian McKellen Won’t Officiate Your Expensive Lord of the Rings–Themed Wedding
Not even for $1.5 million.Miles Teller Is Still Upset About Being Called a Dick
He wants to set the record straight.Why Parents Shouldn’t Talk About Weight With Their Teens
New guidelines seek to banish weight talk.