Man’s eye view

 

Hello Internets. It’s me, Nat. I’m back for another installment of guest posting. Emilie asked me to write about body image from the male perspective. I think she was talking about the effect that things like this:

The Man You Want Your Man to Smell Like

have on my (and average men’s) self-esteem. I know that the Old Spice commercials are meant to be funny, and from the couple of interviews I’ve seen actor Isaiah Mustafa seems like a genuinely nice guy. But it’s hard not to compare myself to someone who looks like a marble statue come to life when I sometimes feel like one of those vaguely humanoid, prehistoric statuettes they find in those caves painted with people stabbing buffalo. Still, that’s not what I’m going to write about. At least not tonight.

Instead I’m going to write about this:

Brooklyn Decker

This is Brooklyn Decker. I don’t know anything about her beyond the fact that her breasts are featured prominently (in a bikini) in the advertising for the new Adam Sandler movie and that an image search with her name mostly features the likes of what you see above. She’s wearing a bikini, but she’s not about to go swimming. Everything about her posture and expression is about sexual seduction. Maybe Brooklyn Decker is smart and compassionate and funny. Maybe she’s a terrible, bigoted, moron. I don’t know. The point is that pictures like this, and movies like Just Go With It don’t care. Too often the media portrays women as objects whose worth is only measured by how effectively they excite male sexual fantasies.

Emilie has covered what this means for women, but how about what this means for men? I think Emilie is beautiful, but I love her because she is smart, funny, caring, and all the things that are completely irrelevant in the majority of the portrayals of women in the media. Men and boys are being bombarded with the idea that women are aesthetic and sexual objects. We are being sold an empty fantasy.

As these boys grow up to be fathers, as these men become teachers, colleagues, and members of a global society what will this mean? What does it mean already? How many of you reading this (like Emilie) recognized Brooklyn Decker, but couldn’t immediately identify the three women below? We are teaching men that the most important quality in a woman is an unhealthy ideal, and that without the body of a Brooklyn Decker, she has failed. While men may be encouraged to look like Isaiah Mustafa, they – we – have more opportunity to show our worth through our actions. Men need not be beautiful to succeed.

We have to start teaching people – men and women – that a woman’s worth has nothing to do with how she looks, but by who she is. A woman cannot be captured in an empty photograph of a seductive glance. We cannot continue to bombard men with these kinds of images and expect them to embrace, nurture, and accept all the brilliance that women have to offer.

 

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8 comments

  1. Good post, Nat, and it reminds me of something i heard recently which is that Hooters restaurants now offer children’s birthday parties for kids as young as seven. That’s right parents – make sure they learn to objectify hot women even earlier now.

    Meanwhile I kind of thought that was Indira Ghandi, but I’ll admit I didn’t formulate that thought fully before I scrolled down and read who it was, so maybe I”m lying to myself. But do I get any bonus points for not having the foggiest idea who Brooklyn Decker is or being able to identify her by sight? I think I should. 🙂

  2. GO YOU! 🙂

    I think it’s really important for men to be aware how their perception of women affects not only us, but them as well. It sometimes seems like men take a “hands off” approach to these issues, and I think it’s great that you are not only aware of them but writing about them on this blog and encouraging others to take a closer look at the way they see women.

    I’ll admit though, I didn’t know Indira Gandhi and I was only 90% sure about Florence Nightingale. 😦

    1. I’m pretty ashamed to admit that the only picture I recognized (at all) was Jane Goodall. Nat’s description of me not being able to ‘immediately recognize’ the women is generous 😦

  3. Well, I immediately recognized Indira Gandhi and Jane Goodall, but I actually thought the first lady was Emily Bronte or Jane Eyre.
    Excellent piece of writing, Nat! It’s always good to hear the male perspective, especially when it’s well-written and as sensitive and thought-provoking as your is.

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