Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage


This article was written on 11 Sep 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

Poldark: shirts on

Either objectification is universally wrong, or it isn’t. I don’t want a world where strong female protagonists are wearing unrealistically skimpy clothes and crying when something bad happens, folding into the arms of a man like an origami starfish, because that smells a lot like bullshit. But by the same token, I don’t expect to see the internet wanking itself into a frenzy over people like Poldark or whatever the actor’s bloody name is. Which is why I’ll say it again. Either objectification is universally wrong, or it isn’t.

Tonight, Twitter has rubbed itself into a sticky frenzy over the first episode of the second series and, chiefly, its male protagonist. The focus of the rubbing seems to have been him taking his shirt off, which the production company must have noticed got the same people similarly excited in the first series. Look, everyone, here he is in a cornfield without his shirt on. Why not whack off over this and tune into BBC One on Sunday nights for more of the same, and go on Twitter or some other social media platform to say just what you’d like to do to him, even though you’re in your mid fifties and the chances of him standing still long enough for you to get him are not high?

Making it clear, absolutely clear, I think female objectification is wrong. Being sold things by scantily clad women, so-called ‘glamour’ photography, Page 3, female characters with all the depth of a pond, women being treated as two dimensional people who are, at best, receptacles for men’s semen or the dead-eyed repositories of millions of wank fantasies is wrong. People might fancy them incidentally, which is pretty much fine, but their being positioned solely to satisfy people who might like to have sexual congress with them and/or to shift product, is wrong. It reduces a human being to the status of a piece of meat with a cunt, standing there, unconvincingly trying to pretend that a man with a bigger TV is somehow more sexually alluring.

The same is true in reverse. If you’re shifting product by showing nearly naked men, men with their tops off or fuck knows what else, then you’re violating the same principle. While I know that the power relationship here is in no way the same, and that men can disrobe all they want to without ever risking disempowering their gender while each time a woman does it, it makes it that much harder for women to be taken seriously. I understand all that. But. The principle is the same. We don’t make a better world by treating men as appallingly as women have been treated, but we do make it a whole lot more likely that some of the problems which have thoroughly fucked up the lives of women fuck up the lives of men.

Eating disorders and body image issues are on the rise in men, demonstrating that they way they are being treated is more than just a ‘laugh.’ If I was the parent of boys, I’d be worried. They’d be ageing into a world where the ad men who decided that cunt sold also decided that cock sold as well and showed no scruples in how hard they pushed it or the campaigns which ended up leaving people not knowing whether they were coming or going. Perhaps, in twenty years time, we’ll have adverts squarely aimed at men’s insecurities, telling them to look younger, have slimmer waists and flatter stomachs, or else risk being left on the shelf when Ms Right comes into town. And won’t that be great.

This is not progress. It’s history going the wrong way. We are nowhere near to sorting out the media objectification of women. In fact. we’ve barely scratched the surface and yet now the indications are we’re starting to do the same to men. When people first started raising awareness of the way media spoke to women, they were told ‘it’s just a bit of fun,’ which is probably the first line of defence of the people who were watching Poldark taking his shirt off or Mr Darcy diving into a river after riding a horse, a scene which Austen, oddly, didn’t bother including, because her book was supposed to be a romance and not some dreary attempt to get the middle aged all batey about Colin Firth. Except it’s no more ‘a bit of fun’ than Page 3 was. It’s a sign that something much darker and insidious is happening, thinly disguised under a blanket of ‘it’s just banter.’

The answer is that people stop consuming media which objectifies and make a much, much louder noise about it when it does. Which is what I’m doing here. It won’t work, of course. Nobody cares enough to actually do anything, people will go on wanting Poldark or some other variant thereof to get their shirts off or perhaps even, in a time not so far away, their cocks out. Just don’t complain when your sons are starving themselves along with your daughters, that’s all.

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