Opposing inequality of objectification

Zachary Phillips

Commercial time. A swimsuit model saunters onto a sandy beach. It’s a hot, sunny day — perfect weather for a cheeseburger.

Dropping the Carl’s Jr. bag on the sand, the model gets down on all fours and spreads out a beach towel. Arching his back like an alley cat, he takes a slow bite of his semi-gourmet burger, stopping only to wipe up the glob of ketchup that had conveniently plopped down onto his bronzed abs.

Remember that commercial from last year’s Super Bowl? Me neither.

For whatever reason, the role of “sexy beach burger model” seems to be explicitly female.

Why is that? Where are all the male models making sandy-bunned endorsements for overpriced hamburgers?

Yes, I know, hypersexualization is evil, but while this young generation of media connoisseurs fights to challenge harmful objectification, why not level the playing field a bit?

Below are a few good reasons why a little more male sexualization could do a lot of good.

Sexy men are threatening

My straight guy friends’ reactions to David Beckham strutting around in his underwear during the Super Bowl were a sight to behold.

The boisterous room instantly went silent and every guy in the room suddenly had business to handle elsewhere. It was like watching cockroaches scatter from a flashlight beam of male sexuality.

More of these Beckham-esque commercials could really put media objectification in perspective for America’s men.

Seeing men’s bodies put on display might bring them to terms with how advertising has targeted women in the past, reducing them to objects of desire.

Inclusiveness is in these days

Although progress is slow and hard-fought, America is moving toward social conscientiousness. In spite of this, pop culture still caters predominantly to straight men.

The “male gaze,” as gender theorists call it, delivers content through the perspective of the straight, red-blooded man, thus sexualizing the female body for pleasure.

So where’s “the straight female gaze?” How about the “gay male gaze?” Turning on the TV and seeing commercials that appeal to one’s own libido is a privilege. It is a privilege that many are so often deprived of in this country.

Ramping up male sexualization would broaden pop culture’s appeal in America, catering to a wider spectrum of sexual preferences.

It’s only natural

Upon their creation, man and woman were equally gifted with a booty and the inalienable right to shake it.

So where is all the man jelly?

In hiding, that’s where. Pop culture prefers to present male sexuality through a woman’s attention, rather than through his own personal expression.

Men can be sexual when they are around women, but sensuality for the sake of sensuality is a no-fly zone.

Although these norms give the man an air of dominance, they subtly rob him of agency over his sexuality. Rather than display his sex appeal proudly, the man must rely on a woman’s body as proxy.

By destigmatizing male sensuality, the media will give both men and women more control over their sexual expression.

If there was ever any doubt, let heightened social awareness, inclusiveness and freedom of expression serve as proof that good things happen when men take their sexuality into their own hands.

Zachary Phillips can be reached at [email protected] or @ZachSPhillips on Twitter.