Friday, August 22, 2014

A fan letter to The Cut

NYMag's The Cut is kind of great. So, two links to it:

-The first is just to say that what Maggie Lange calls the universal boyfriend shirt is one I own and wear all the time. Except that mine is from Uniqlo, not J.Crew, and is flannel-material. Another for the why-do-I-identify-as-feminine-yet-dress-like-an-adolescent-boy files. Part of it is, I just really like that shirt. Although the likeliest answer is laziness - it's much easier to read Garance Doré or Elle about the cutting edge in Fashion than to actually wear the dresses and skirts I do own, when the jeans are in a pile on top of the dresser.

-The second is Kat Stoeffel's post on why it's OK to objectify men. And while I agree with the premise, I'm not so sure about the reasons:

“Not being objectified” is just one of the many advantages of being male. When we selectively revoke this freedom from body scrutiny, we don’t do anything to diminish the meaningful economic and reproductive advantages men enjoy. 
Put another way: We will stop Dong Watch once there’s a female president, zero wage gap, and Swedish-level paid parental leave; once tampons, birth control, and abortions are all available free and on-demand.
All fair points, but they make it seem as if women are merely pretending to lust after men, to make a point. Then she seems to kind of address this: "Male objectification isn’t about making men feel bad. It’s about not caring how men feel. Or at least, putting it aside long enough to think about what we desire." But then the concluding sentence? "As long as the covers of men's and women’s magazines are both devoted to what men want, that will feel pretty cathartic." Maybe?

But the point of appreciating male beauty isn't catharsis. It's... that many women already are already doing this appreciating. The idea isn't to punish men by objectifying, or even to disregard them. Seeing as women aren't under quite the same pressure to be attracted only to the conventionally attractive (except for the whole height thing, which I tend to think is more about perceived status than beauty, but I digress), freeing women to be openly attracted to men is arguably a good thing for men, including the one or two men who don't look like Jon Hamm.


caryatis said...

Shirts with buttons don't work if you have larger breasts. Also, what is with this desire for everything to be free? I support adding birth control and abortion to healthcare, because they're a) necessary b) expensive and c) ultimately save the health plan money. But tampons are quite cheap, and if you can't afford them you use old rags like most women during history. Just because it's a "female" thing doesn't mean it needs to be free.

caryatis said...

Also, I agree regarding objectification. I think Dan Savage has it right--being appreciated for one's physical qualities is not bad in itself, just bad in inappropriate contexts.

Phoebe said...

Re: the shirts, I know well that this is true, but a) not every garment is chosen purely for how flattering it is - i.e. sometimes you might accept that a look you like doesn't work for you *and wear it anyway*, and b) it's somehow less of an issue, I find, with something like flannel (esp. if worn unbuttoned!) than with fine-material dress shirts. When the shirt is meant to be really, really fitted, that's when the gaping, etc., becomes a problem.

Re: stuff being free, I took that to be less of an official feminist agenda than a general men-have-it-easier gesture. So, we could debate free tampons, but I think, in this case, it's beside the point.

Male promoter said...

I know this is an older post but just wanted to share my two cents. The "appreciating male beauty" argument is so true. Somehow scantily clad men are always related to their female equivalents and allegations regarding revenge objectification or reverse sexism are not uncommon.

As a male model and promoter in car exhibitions targeted at women I see this often and I've lost count how many times I've heard the "Why is it ok to objectify men but not women?" question somewhere among the crowd, as the female promoters are wearing suits (and aren't showing any skin). I think people tend to forget that this is not a men versus women contest and that displaying "scantily clad men" is not about revenge objectification but the market. The organization in which I model and promote started out as a general organizer of car exhibitions but turned out to be most popular among women in our area, and the male promoters losing the blazer and shirt was certainly not an expression of "man hate" but simply an attempt to attract the female market.