Saturday, June 18, 2011

If men were objectified too (part 3)

 EDIT 27th June: It has com to my attention that I do not mean what I thought I did by the title of this blog post.  What I really mean, is 'If men were objectifed in the same manner women are'.  Apologies for offence caused by the misleading words.  It never hurts to be too specific, and in future I shall try to explain myself better.

There are still far too many female characters more concerned with showing- off ass, rather than kicking it.
 Quote from Megan Rosalarian Gedris, December 201o

I have previously written and linked to posts concerning the concept of what would men in comics would like if they were objectified in the same way that women were.  Well another post has been written, by the lady quoted above.  I urge you to go read it, and to tempt you, I would like to share some images from it:

See the problem?  So why do we have art like this being produced:
Harly Quinn is an acrobat.  Now unless the DCnU has changed her abilities and she no longer cavorts about, that has to be one of the most inappropriate costumes I've ever seen.

It is really diffiuclt for comic artists to draw appropriate clothes on their fictional creations?  I mean, learning how gravity and spines work would be nice.  Learning how men bulge in spandex would also be nice, for example:
He's a ballet dancer.
Or you could look at male gymnasts.  On that note, to draw women, look at female gymnasts.  Hell, if you want to draw sexy women take a gander at the thousands of female cosplayers out there.  See how the clothes sit.  Pay attention to how they've achieved certain effects.  Note how the breasts and bellies work (and please, have the intelligence to differentiate between cosplaying at a con and doing a porn shoot).   I'm not saying don't stylise any your art.  Amanda Connor and Ale Garza draw cartoony art and I love them.  But please, respect your creations and respect your audience.


SallyP said...

Oh Hell yes.

Sea-of-Green said...

You're right about artists needing to look at real gymnasts. Heck, all they need to do is study Cirque du Soleil performers. Ability- and costume-wise, those people are practically super-heroes, anyway.

Feminist Avatar said...

I am interested in the way that the top images of 'objectified' men objectified them through feminising their bodies/ outfits. Can the male figure not be objectified on its own terms as a thing of beauty and sex?

Actually, a genuine question... just wondering what that would look like?

Eyz said...

Poor Harley...she was my she'll be my least favorite character....
Heck, I'm a guy but I don't like that look at all! Random, OOC, slutty...where's mah puddin'?!? TT___TT

Landry Walker said...

@Feminist Avatar

A good question. Here's an example of male objectification:

Lobo: Nothing but pure, super muscled bad ass. Doesn't give a shit about anybody or anything unless it appeals to his base instincts. Doesn't know the meaning of defeat or pain. Doesn't care if what he does is going to cause himself to suffer. Laughs at those who show or share emotion.

That's the distilled version of the male ideal. And men are as bombarded with it all the time. Oh, it usually hides itself in a more subtle way, but it's almost always there - and it's horrid.

Landry Walker said...

My link turned into something else: Trying once more:

Saranga said...

@FA: Interesting question. Sorry it's taken me so long to reply.

Have you seen filament magazine? As I understand it, they objectify men - they include lots of photogrpahic portraits of men looking, well, hot, in their magazines. Then there's the teen idol type posters you get in teenage girls magazines, of the pretty young thing of the day, topless and smouldering at the camera.

Those are all about objectification, yet it somehow doesn't seem to lead back to men being assigned less worth. The other thing about these images, is, I feel, (and men are very wlecome to disgaree with me on this), is they are shot in a way that doesn't degrade men.

Or maybe I'm just projecting. Maybe it's not the images themselves but the associated values that make them objectionable. Or maybe it's that when men are objectified they truly are given respect and status, and when women are objectified they aren't.
Are men objectified through action and women objectified through passivity? Is it possible to be objectified through action?

Regarding Landry's comments - intellectually I know that the uber muscly male body and lack of emotion is upheld as the ideal, and that's just as ridiculous as the impossibly contorted, submissive, female body. But I tend to forget about it.

What do you all reckon?

Saranga said...

@eyz: fair comment and I see your point. Please don't use the word 'slutty' here though. I just don't like it and I find it offensive.

Landry Walker said...

"Those are all about objectification, yet it somehow doesn't seem to lead back to men being assigned less worth. The other thing about these images, is, I feel, (and men are very wlecome to disgaree with me on this), is they are shot in a way that doesn't degrade men."

I know you're talking about somewhat different imagery here than what I was pointing to, but for the sake of argument...

If you don't meet the cultural expectations of strength and manliness, there is definitely an assignment of less worth, How often do you see a big fat guy in a movie and expect him to be stupid? How often do you expect him to eat eat eat? We endorse unhealthy ideals with both genders. Woman should be oversexed in a feminine way, and men should be oversexed in a masculine way.

And it's bad. Very bad. But even though it's bad for both men and women, I hear all the time how the ideal male image is a healthy one. (Mind you, not saying you said this. Just speaking about generalizations.)

Even if the tough as nails, no time for love, mega body builder, perfect hair, hero was a healthy goal (and it's not) - It's not healthy to hold up an impossible ideal because it leads to health and emotional issues.

Let's be clear: Men who suffer from bulimia aren't healthy. Men who take steroids aren't healthy. Men who suffer from depression and self hatred aren't healthy. These are very common issues that people don't talk about. Why? Because talking about self hatred and any other emotional state isn't encouraged when you're a man. You're being a "pussy". You're being a "baby". You're "whining". "man up", "be strong", "take it like a man", "don't be a fag".

Fuck all of that.

For the record, I was bulimic all through junior high, and have fought against it during periods in my adult life. I was 135 pounds and six foot two and I was convinced I was fat because that's what I had been told all my life. From the people around me, from the fictional heroes I looked up to.

I've watched so many of my friends deal with self hatred over the years because they aren't who they think they should be. It's a very real concern that people blind themselves to.

Again, I'm not saying it isn't bad for women. It absolutely is. But all to often I see people (not you) dismiss the very real issue of how men are portrayed in comics (or whatever) because they only see the positive. That these male ideals are something to aspire to and that's okay. Well, it's not okay to teach young children that a manly thing to do is injure yourself to the point where your body will never recover. It's not okay to teach young children that fat men are stupid and love to eat.

Here's some questions: Why does Hal Jordan have the body of a bodybuilder? Does his ring give him superhuman muscles? Why would Superman have an impossible to match physique? Is that a power from Krypton? Iron man have a super body? Why? The guy traditionally has health problems that would make exercise damn near impossible.

Well, we all know the answer. Because people want to look at something they think is pretty. And that's the real answer. Both men and women ARE portrayed in a sexy manner. But as is expected according to their gender. You won't see a titillating image of man as the original post suggests. No. You'll see him bruised and bloody and in a torn costume defeating the villain just in time - because that is the real sexual equivalent.

Saranga said...

Hi Landry.
Thank you for commenting.
I did derail by talking about different imagery, I was aware I was doing that - I was just brain dumping and not being terribly relevant to the particular discussion we were having. Apologies for that.

You are right, there is unhealthy pressure on men, just as there is on women. I think I forget that sometimes - I get so focused on one thing (how patriarchy hurts women) I forget that it also hurts men too. Yes, I mention it, pay lip service to it, but it's not always top of my priorities.

As you point out, very clearly and eloquently: "If you don't meet the cultural expectations of strength and manliness, there is definitely an assignment of less worth" And it is so so wrong that that happens.

I think I usually just accept that male superheros have muscly bodies, cos it's just the way it is. But really, how is that a different attitude to those I rail against, when I am told that that's just the way female characters are? It's not different, and it needs to be questioned.

(I realise you weren't directing a lot of your comemnts towards me, but I take on board what you are saying, nonetheless)

I wonder if there is any gender swapped fan art where the women are treated as the men are? I certainly haven't seen any.

I should change the title of this series. As you have so rightly pointed out, it's asking the wrong question. What I think I really want to say is 'what if men were objectifed in the same manner women are'. To ask anything else confuses the issue and hides the that way men are presented in popular culture, as well as hiding the contribution to harm that such a macho ideal provides.