'Warning' brag the TV ads, 'after seeing this movie your boyfriend will appear inadequate.' the marketers have really encapsulated the public feeling amongst women for this new movie 'magic mike' set in the sleazy world of male strip clubs. The movie is not only making huge profits right now, but is apparently creating a wave of nasty triumphant comments across the web. From Social networking sites to blogs, women who only a few years ago would have been more into the romanticism of Jane Austin, are loudly, crudely and nastily proclaiming their obsession with seeing hunky men taking their clothes off. Good job it's not ordinary men eh girls? Because that would be like, soooo eww gross.
I became aware of this film the other week when I'd taken my young nephew to the cinema to see the new Spiderman film. I was already pissed off after they showed a trailer for some crap-looking new children's film which - predictably - had to include the obligatory 'comedy' boy-being-hit-in-the-balls scene (its not only obligatory to include this in children's films these days, but you have to show it in the trailers too). Then came the trailer for this male stripper movie. The whole theatre, filled with men, boys and families squirmed in silence. If women want to have their soft-porn, fine, but do we really need it rubbed in our children's faces in such a blatant manner? Of course, this is part of the wider trend of sexualising our children. When reading around online to research this post, I found one blog post from a man who said that whenever the ads come on TV for this movie all the females in his house go wild, even his 7 year old daughter! I find this mind-blowing. It is literally impossible to write satirically about our feminist culture these days as the truth is always weirder and sicker than anything you can invent.
This really is a huge change in our culture. Only a few years ago women would never have bragged and leered so publicly about their love of seeing strange men naked. I suppose a big part of this is the course and brain-dead celebrity/reality-TV culture that has taken over young women's minds, particularly here in the UK. You only have to overhear the conversations of women of child-bearing age these days to be utterly sickened by the vapidity and nastiness that has gripped their minds. There is also Facebook, the spiritual home of this heartless shallow culture, where many of these women are bragging with desperate zeal about how they and their herd of friends are so excited to be going to see this movie, or how they were so excited to have seen it and how no man can now possibly compare to these hunky actors. This is often done in the lewdest of language, referencing characters such as 'big dick'. It's utterly inconceivable that women of my mothers generation would have acted like this, in public. This is supposed to be progress. But to me it feels cheap, disgusting, amoral and betrays a total lack of self-respect.
Yet if a man dares to point out the double standard - if men made similar posts they'd be taken to task - they are met with a wall of fury. how DARE he question a woman's right to publicly enthuse over stripper-penis! Doesn't he know his history? Women have been struggling (cue limp hand to forehead: "oh the struggle!") for this hard-won right for centuries, hell no, actually MILLENNIA! Or somethink,, 'n shit. Now what time is Big Brother on?...
Of course, many women will try to cover over this hypocrisy with what I call 'the showgirls thesis'. Showgirls was a mid-90s movie about female strippers, staring....erm does anyone know? In fact, has anyone actually ever seen Showgirls? The 'Showgirls thesis' states that the existence of showgirls means that women can carry on however they like over Magic Mike. No lewdness, mocking-comment, or girl-gang-hysteria is too much, because...Showgirls. However, like every classic feminist argument it has one fatal flaw: it's bullshit! Five minutes of research (see Box Office Mojo) will show that showgirls was a commercial flop, Magic Mike a hit. Men were not going to see showgirls in the huge numbers that women are with Magic Mike. Men did not gather up all their mates and their dads for sell-out showings of showgirls. There was no showgirls phenomenon. It never happened. magic Mike is making millions, and a sequel is already being discussed. No surprise as Hollywood is essentially a very cautious industry as movie-making is like constantly making multi-million dollar gambles with little real control over whether they will make or loose money. For this reason there is endless copying of what's made money in the past. Expect more movies that cater to the braying herds of Facebook harpies, calling for more objectification of men.
Of course, this is not the first movie-phenomenon to promote the objectification of men (or boys) ( and I've already written about that here: 'More hypocrisy' and 'The Oedipussy complex'). But do women actually think this trend will lead anywhere positive? What will greater objectification of men and boys mean? Feminists REALLY don't want men to discuss this. They think they have the right to own this subject and they talk about it in their own jargon, which is all defined in ways to suit them: it emphasises all the things their ideology promotes, and denies by definition any other interpretation of reality. Hence the spectacle of feminists aggressively attacking any objectification of women, yet proclaiming their love for 'Magic Mike'. Hold your nose a minute, lets lower a bucket into the sewer of the feminist blogosphere and see what hypocritical effluent we dredge up:
"The almost entirely female audience lapped up every second, myself included. Catcalls, hooting laughter and orders to ‘Take it off!’ were refreshingly shameless and surprisingly frequent. It did not matter that we were experiencing Joe Manganiello’s buttocks through the filter of a movie screen; the theater had the electrified vibe of a nightclub, and the audience wanted to participate... Hopefully, this will be the first in a long line of films allowing women to have their turn objectifying their male counterparts." Ella Dawson, Darien Patch
"We're objectifying the shit out of Joe Manganiello." Bitch magazine
"Sometimes I just want to watch guys with way too many abs dance pretty...Sure, the cast perpetuates hard body ideals for men...I liked this audience’s hollers and running commentary... My favorite moment might have been when somebody got up to go to the lobby and headed up the isle shaking her head, going, “Wow. Wow. Wow.” Exactly." JOS, Feministing
"Last night, I spent a couple of hours objectifying men during a screening of Magic Mike. Not only is it entertaining, but it is also quite empowering...The most important parts of Magic Mike are the rear ends and love muscles. Oiled to perfection, these parts kept the film afloat and indulging." The birth of damnation
Women already seem to think they have an automatic right to touch and grab men, so in that sense we are more seen as objects. Women and men also will not view a man with empathy and sympathy in the way that women are viewed. There was some comedian who said that when people see a homeless man with a dog, people will feel sorry for the dog but not the man. And I think theres a lot of truth in that. And people - particularly women - will find it easier to laugh at men in pain than women in pain. As an example, the way that the women on 'the view' were laughing at the man who had his penis cut off, or the fact that almost every children's film these days seems to have a 'comedy' moment of a boy or man being kicked or hit in the balls.
Male objectification, I predict, is going to be way worse than the objectification which is already creating a lot of misery for many young women. This is because it will involve more varied pressures. Its different, but worse. For starters, the actual initial 'objects' in the film and media probably like it. ie the male actors in the stripper movie probably love being the centre of attention. Why wouldn't they? They are wealthy, powerful and have the time and resources to perfect their bodies. Women tend to be more hypergamic than men: ie they place men into a heirarchy of attractiveness, to the extent that two women would often rather share one powerful man than have a low-status man to themselves. So, historically, men have been looked upon by women as 'success objects': attractive on the basis of how many resources they can provide the woman. I don't think that trend has gone away: i.e. women have not suddenly found poor men as attractive as rich men, whereas generally men are not attracted to a woman with money more than one without. This leaves men more likely to find 'average' women attractive, whereas women will find a tiny minority of men attractive.
So whats going to happen is boys and men will be objectified from two different directions: success/power + looks. not just looks alone.
Then what it takes to look attractive in a man is way more complex and hard to achieve than what it takes for a woman. For starters, we don't have make-up to make us more facially attractive. Secondly, more or less all women need to do is avoid being fat (the models that are super-skinny tend to be coming from the women and gay-male driven fashion world, throughout history the male preference has been more for a curvy (but not fat) female form). Whereas for a man to become attractive involves doing two things at once, which are kind of contradictory: loosing fat and gaining muscle. Achieving this - the big arms, the six-pack - etc, is surprisingly difficult and requires complex diet disciplines, and often leads to steriod use. I'm already seeing teenage boys becoming obsessed with this. And where this is leading.... I don't think even women will like it, ultimately. It will result in boys and men who are (1) more miserable (2) more self-obsessed, (3) even MORE pressure on the women to look good, (4) Men and boys with less time and energy for study, work, becoming rounded-people, due to the shear dedication that they gym-work takes.
Lastly, men can NEVER EVER again take seriously the complaints about being 'objectified'.
What do you think about the phenomenon of this movie and the reaction of women to it?