Thursday, August 15, 2013

Turning boys into 'sex objects' is bad for them

Teenage boys and young men are increasingly portrayed by the media as sex objects. Examples abound of boys and younger men from the worlds of sport, film and music being photographed as though they were soft porn stars, and being talked about lecherously on social media sites. There has been a definite shift in the way that young men are portrayed or need to portray themselves if they want to be successful today. If the Beatles were starting their careers today, they would probably need to endlessly pose topless with their underwear on display if they wanted media and social networking attention.

Some of this is, no doubt, being driven by the more crowded media landscape. An explosion of TV channels and websites means it’s harder to get a large audience for your TV show, movie or music than it used to be, and sex sells. However, there are undoubtedly other forces driving this too, amongst which the strongest are probably the presence of gay men in the media industries, and the prevalence of feminist thinking amongst the career women in the media seeing it as ‘evening the score’ to portray boys in a way that girls and women are often portrayed.

The media are doing whatever will make them lots of money, but the effect is to both confuse young men, make them feel miserable, or/and lead them down a path that could waste a lot of their time and energy. For whilst boys are under increasing pressure to be physically attractive, when it comes to what will help them get a girlfriend or be more valued by the opposite sex, there hasn’t been so much of a shift. Whilst girls are increasingly vocal about apparently appreciating good-looking boys, they haven’t dropped all their other requirements for what they find attractive. Most young females have long and demanding lists of requirements that need to be met before they’ll find a young man attractive, and most are to do with his popularity or some form of ‘dominance’ (either physical or intellectual). Equally, there tends to be a lot less consensus amongst females over whether any particular male is attractive. Where virtually all males will agree on the attractiveness of a female model (for example), women will often let little details spoil their appreciation of him.


“Yes I can see he’s good looking, but have you seen his shoes? I could never be attracted to a man with shoes like that!”

“Oh I can’t find him attractive at all, he’s way too confident for my liking.’

“I can’t find him attractive at all, he’s just not confident enough for my liking.”

And on and on.

Often boys and men get excited by the idea of women treating men as sex objects as they think it could offer them an easy and direct solution to getting women to find them attractive. However, if they think this they are chumps. Increasing media attention on male attractiveness will only RAISE the bar for what is deemed attractive to women, not lower it. In other words, an increased emphasis on attractiveness of boys and young men will make the average boy LESS attractive, not MORE.

An increased emphasis on attractiveness of boys and young men will make the average boy LESS attractive, not MORE.

To understand why, you need to look at the differences between what heterosexual boys/men and girls/women find attractive. Girls, as soon as they reach puberty, have always, throughout history, been viewed as more ‘valuable’ than boys. From an evolutionary standpoint it’s a fact that a population can reproduce successfully even if only a minority of the men are impregnating the majority of the females. Boys and men are thus under harsher competition to prove themselves to be attractive to women. Both sexes tend to arrange men on a hierarchy of value, with those at the top being allowed to (in theory) access many women, whilst those at the bottom are denied access at all. The important thing to note is that this hierarchy is both male-only (women are not subject to it), and largely NOT driven by attractiveness, but by other traits which can be summarised under the quality of dominance or power (this could be wealth, popularity, or physical strength/aggressiveness). To see that this is true, consider the fact that a large proportion – perhaps a majority – of girls and women are deemed physically attractive but only tiny minority of boys and men are. To be attractive, all most women have to do is avoid getting fat, and groom themselves well and they will start to pull-in the opposite sex. For a man to accomplish the same trick, he would not only have to be physically attractive, but also score high on the ‘power-hierarchy’. Once you understand this, you can see that only a minority of boys/men will ever be considered attractive.

A large proportion of girls and women are deemed physically attractive but only tiny minority of boys and men are.

Another way to see this in action is to look at the phenomenon of teenage bands and singers. Thousands, sometimes millions, of teenage girls will fixate on only one or several boy singers in a way that boys don’t with female singers. Boys may find female singers sexy, and may even put their posters up on their walls or fantasise about them, but they don’t obsessively focus in the way that girls do. You don’t get groups of thousands of boys waiting for hours to catch a glimpse of a female singer, crying, screaming and even feinting. To put it simply, the male fantasy is for a female to possess and call their own, the female fantasy is to be possessed by the male that all the other females want.

For women its more important that they look good if they want to attract men, but the bar for attractiveness is lower. For men, attractiveness is a less important part of the mix, but the bar is a lot higher. A physically attractive woman will get a lot more ‘bang for her buck’ just out of her attractiveness than a man will ever do from his.

Its not only harder for a boy/man to be deemed physically attractive, its also less important to his overall attractiveness. 

Not only is it a less important part of the mix for boys and men, but its much harder to achieve, requiring a lot more time and energy. All the time I see women being called attractive just because they are (a) not fat, and (b) have simply carefully arranged their hair and make-up to be sexually attractive to men. Not only do men not have the artificial ‘prop’ of make-up, but the ideal physical ‘look’ of low-fat/high muscle is a lot harder to achieve than the female equivalent of merely low-fat. It requires many more hours in the gym, it requires a special high-protein diet and a great degree of dedication over time. The highly muscular look that is now evident across the media as the ideal male appearance is actually extremely unnatural and just as dangerous as the ‘size zero’ stick-thin model look that the fashion industry promotes amongst women. As an example, the actor Hugh Jackman, who has to appear highly muscular for the Wolverine movies, was recently quoted as saying he was worried the training and diet would give him a heart attack, so extreme, unnatural and intense it is in order to achieve this look.

Do we really want our young men to be tricked by the media into diverting their finite time and energy into this, in a futile quest to feel valued? How many boys are diverted away from studying or developing other important parts of their lives by spending endless hours and energy in the gym? Moreover, they are being misled about this by a small and cynical group of feminist-indoctrinated media controllers who simply wish to ‘even the score’.
This is an important issue as it is increasing the levels of misery amongst young men. Not only is suicide significantly higher amongst young men than young women, but levels of eating disorders are rising amongst young men. Obsession with personal appearance is a recipe for misery at the best of times, but when combined with the vulnerability of the teenage years, and the fact that pursuing the low-fat/high muscle look will require a significant investment for a boy, I believe that the media pushing this trend are doing a lot of harm.

Boys are increasingly developing eating disorders. 

Boys are likely more sexually and socially vulnerable than are girls of the same age. Female journalists love to boast of how teenage girls are typically more emotionally mature than boys of the same age, yet curiously they are increasingly predatory and lewd about such boys. If they think that teen boys are lagging a few years behind girls in emotional development, then when they sexualise a 16 year old boy, its more akin to sexualising a 13 year old girl. The media are doing this all the time to boys and it’s bordering on paedophilic.

The media are extremely hypocritical about this issue. The tabloids will write articles (rightly) condemning paedophiles, but then feature endless photos of barely legal teenage boys in various states of undress. Feminist journalists, bloggers and twitter users will aggressively condemn treating young girls as sex objects, but then do exactly the same to young boys. If they are confronted on their hypocrisy they typically brush it off.

Such journalists and social networkers are contributing to an atmosphere that is harmful to young boys only just out of childhood. They are potentially making paedophilia more likely. They are probably increasing the prevalence of eating disorders and steroid abuse. Lastly, ironically, I'm sure women themselves won't like it when their sons or partners have become self-obsessed, vain, spend more time in the gym than with them or on personality-enriching hobbies, because that will be the end result.

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