Objectification is nothing new to women – it’s a part of our everyday lives and the images we’re presented with. Over time, most people in our society become completely desensitized to it. A wonderful result of the body-positive and feminist movement that has been happening over the past few years has influenced women to speak out and demand that they are treated like people instead of sex objects. Actresses such as Christina Hendricks, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Laurence and Adele have all publicly called out the media and society for how women and their bodies are depicted. That being said, it’s quite uncommon to hear a man speak up about body image and objectification. For the record, regardless of whether the attention is positive or negative, objectification is NOT okay. It is dehumanizing to both women AND men and it can be highly personal and intrusive. I’d like to use Jon Hamm as an example, as his name has been circulating around the internet recently. Recently, Mad Men actor Jon Hamm reported in Rolling Stone that he is NOT happy about the attention the internet is giving his notable private parts.
“Most of it’s tongue-in-cheek. But it is a little rude. It just speaks to a broader freedom that people feel like they have – a prurience. They’re called ‘privates’ for a reason. I’m wearing pants, for fuck’s sake. Lay off. I mean, it’s not like I’m a fucking lead miner. There are harder jobs in the world, but when people feel the freedom to create Tumblr accounts about my cock, I feel like that wasn’t part of the deal. But whatever. I guess it’s better than being called out for the opposite.”
The tumblr account Jon Hamm is referring to is called “Jon Hamm’s Wang.” You can’t get any more dehumanizing than that, and there’s more: in March, “the bulge” in Hamm’s pants started making headlines when The New York Daily News reported that AMC was photoshopping Hamm’s Mad Men promo shots to make his private parts more private. Producers have even advised that Jon wear underwear while shooting Mad Men, as his anatomy is “distracting” in his tight 1960s costume (by the way, there is actually an internet following that is protesting against Jon Hamm wearing underwear). There are a few things happening here. The first is that the objectification happening to Jon is something that could be looked upon in society as “positive.” In a world where unrealistic pornography and images rule, society says, “bigger is better” when it comes to penis size – and really, anything male-related. Because of this, Jon might be taken less seriously and criticized for even speaking negatively about getting this “positive” attention. If it was a woman being objectified for having big breasts, would we react differently? Would he be getting the same reaction if he’d had a small penis? The second thing is that we are not taking body image security and privacy seriously anymore. What if Jon Hamm was insecure about his penis size? There are plenty of women, who, even though we’re taught that having big breasts is “a good thing,” are extremely insecure about them and the attention that comes with having big breasts. It’s awful that we treat people as if their bodies are for our consumption to judge and gossip about. Shouldn’t we know better? Back to objectification: we’re not treating people like people. Jon Hamm’s frustration that his body is getting more attention than his career is understandable. This is something high-profile women, not just actresses, talk about often. Look no further than Hamm’s co-star, Christina Hendricks. Her breasts are more focused on than her three Emmy nominations. She has even stopped an interview because her body became the focus of the interview. Actresses such as Lena Dunham (a writer/director/producer) and Sofia Vergara (an entrepreneur) are very talented and successful, however their accomplishments are constantly being upstaged by their bodies. And let’s not skirt this issue that this is a problem in our culture. Objectification is not limited to actors/actresses and well-known people. We live in a society that looks at, comments on and judges the appearance of others with an unhealthy amount of curiosity and often mean-spirited attitude. Jon Hamm is by far not the only man who’s being objectified…but he is a rare voice. It would be great to have more male figures speaking up. The more voices that are heard, we can hope for the more humane treatment of both men AND women. I personally would be really happy to see men join the discussion.