Vice results in body shaming, eating disorders, and a drive for near impossible perfection
This year, the multi-talented Idris Elba was named the 2018 sexiest man alive by People magazine. While this selection was said to be long overdue, the notion “sexual objectification of men” was brought into play with many arguing that men’s bodies have become more objectified than before.
In the past, women were the only ones facing the vice, but recently men, especially actors featured on TV shows, magazines, adverts or movies are oftentimes featured having superb physique and ideal bodies. However, men who do not have ideal bodies are typically used for comic relief and those who are out of shape seldom get leading roles.
By definition, objectification is the treatment of an individual as something that is owned by another; something that can either be bought or sold.
Compared to men, the society tends to evaluate and put more pressure on women to conform to the ideals of feminine appearance. Some feminists have argued that, in being preoccupied with their looks, women treat themselves as things to be decorated and gazed upon. The idealised version of a woman is in most instances thin with big breasts and behind.
When it comes to men sexual objectification, in the media, the ideal version of a man is more often than not depicted as a strong, toned man.
When it comes to men, body evaluation is mainly through gazing and other nonverbal cues. Gazing is simply the way in which the society depicts men from an idealised perspective. While men tend to experience this from other men, women experience it from both sexes.
The existing political, economic power inequalities are such that in practice, a man’s agency is much less likely than a woman’s to be overridden. As a result, the objectification of men is much less likely to end up in sexual violence. To this extent, a double standard might be thought tolerable.
Since the society defines sexual objectification as seeing people as no more than the sum of their parts and what those parts can do for us sexually, then yes, of course while we shout about women being objectified, men suffer just as much. There is a breed of women who “use” men for sex, with little regard to their feelings, personalities, or desires, just as men do to women.
“Our culture generally teaches boys that they are man enough when they have three things , “Girls, Gold and Glory.” Girls refer to a man’s ability to attain and retain female attention for sexual conquest.
Gold refers to the man’s ability to gain as much money as possible. Glory refers to social dominance and prominence,” says Ernest Namboye, motivational speaker and founder of Powerhouse.
Money and looks
According to Ernest, the society objectifies men when they are only valued for their looks and how much money they make.
Consequently, young men areencouraged to be increasingly narcissistic and materialistic, driving them to unprecedented levels of perfectionism-driven social anxiety as well as mental illness. This is as a result of being constantly bombarded with a vastly greater quantity and intensity of objectifying media content than previous generations ever had to contend with.
Similar to the issues of sexual objectification in women, male objectification results in body shaming, eating disorders, and a drive for perfection. In order to meet the standards of beauty, men in the media especially use steroids. The continued exposure of these “ideal” men subjects society to expect all men to fit this role.