Drooling over men isn’t innocent
Why, in this #MeToo era, is it OK for women to ogle actors’ hot bods? asked Anoosh Chakelian. Not one but five British newspapers last week ran the same front-page photo of a bare-chested Aidan Turner—star of hit BBC period drama Poldark—sloshing ashore on a beach, flaunting his perfect arms and abs. When I saw this spread of beefcake, my immediate thought was “This is progress!” For so long, the British media has used scantily clad women to sell papers, and here we have the venerable Daily Telegraph serving up some studmuffin. There is, to be sure, a “feminist argument in favor of slavering over Turner’s torso”: Men have not been historically judged by, or held back because of, their perceived sexual attractiveness. Surely we won’t now be so humorless, some pundits said, as to deny women readers their little treat. But that’s a dangerous argument. Just think how often male tabloid editors and male readers have explained away The Sun’s “Page Three” photos of topless models as simply a bit of fun “in an attempt to make feminists look joyless and patronizing.” Studies of masculinity tell us that patriarchy and enforced gender norms are damaging to men’s psyches as well as to women’s. “Perhaps it’s better for everyone” if we don’t treat each other as objects.