We all know that women are oversexualized in the media everywhere from magazines to Hardee’s commercials, and it’s enough to drive any self-respecting female insane. But what many people fail to consider is that men are objectified too; from male models showing off six-packs to pretty-boy boy bands that attract legions of fangirls, the fixation on male physique and general physical appearance is all too real. Even though we acknowledge this fact, it is often discounted because it is said to be much worse for women. This does ring true to some extent, but objectification of either sex is wrong, and we should focus on gaining respect for men in addition to women.
In regards to the male physique, society forms ideals just as it does for women. There is an “ideal” male body type, an “ideal” male face structure, and, of course, the whole “tall, dark, and handsome” ideal…with a pair of blue eyes to go along with the package, of course. The media creates the “ideal” male appearance, and it’s unrealistic; not all guys are built the same way, and they cannot all meet this standard, just as women cannot all meet the “ideal” standard for women. Some men can’t build as much muscle as other men can, and some of them are not built to be tall or buff. Thus, the “ideal” standard causes a lack of confidence and bad body image in many men when they cannot meet the standard. I’m going to be cheesy and remind you that we’re all different; we all come in different shapes and sizes, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This idea is becoming more popular in regards to women, but it needs to be embraced for men as well.
Speaking of women, the same sexism that affects them affects a lot of men as well. People tell guys that they are “acting like girls” or they call them wusses, wimps, or any number of derogatory terms (many of them extremely disrespectful to women and also way too inappropriate for me to mention in a school newspaper) when they are displaying “feminine” or “weak” qualities. This not only insults the male in question, but it also insults women by hinting to the idea that women are weak, making it a sexist double-whammy.
Society also pressures males to “prove their masculinity,” and the media often makes it look normal and even acceptable for men to disrespect women. Society tells boys from a young age that they must be physically strong, uninterested in activities or manners classified as “feminine,” and they can’t be sensitive or “too emotional.” If they don’t meet those standards, conclusions are drawn and they are ridiculed. So many men who are just trying to be themselves are being bashed for it. Why can’t we just express ourselves and our individual talents and interests rather than being expected to conform?
The media pressures boys from a young age as well; shows and movies often portray women in a vulgar manner, treating them almost as objects. It also frequently embraces “womanizing” and general playing of the field. It wires so many young boys’ brains to think that it’s okay and normal and that it proves one’s masculinity.
Even though this ties into sexism against women, it all ties into sexism against men as well. The problem is that so many things that society teaches build a male stereotype that men are expected to follow, and if they don’t follow it, they’re not “real men.” Many women then draw the conclusion that all men fit the stereotype, and they either grow to believe that the qualities of the stereotype are okay (which is wrong) or they begin to hate men (which is also wrong). Not all women have this attitude, of course, but you catch my drift. Thus, a lot of women are sexist against men because they assume that all men are the same (vile and woman-hating, basically) and that they can’t be trusted or respected.
The other extreme in male idealism is the “perfect” guy. You know what I’m talking about if you have seen pretty much any cheesy romantic flick. You know the type. He’s buff, tall, has a chiseled face, and is always making dramatic romantic gestures of love. He’s always swooping in to help the girl and gives her everything she could ever want. He’s a fairytale and is the product of female idealism. When girls don’t get this “perfect” guy, a lot of them are dissatisfied in their relationships.
Ladies, your boyfriends are going to be flawed. There is no such thing as a perfect person or relationship. Yes, you can be a perfect match. That exists. But don’t expect your relationship to be a fairytale 100% of the time.
My point is that both sexes create ideals of the opposite sex. There is disrespect on both sides. Both sides can be prejudiced against one another. Sadly, it’s never going to change in society as a whole. But just as we as individuals can prove that we don’t classify as stereotypes, we as individuals can respect each other and take a stand against sexism.