Yesterday, the Huffington Post featured an article by Tom Matlack regarding Esquire’s “Women We Love.” In it, he criticized the men’s magazine for doing what men’s magazines have been doing forever: objectifying women and praising them solely on their (sexualized) appearances.
The eight all-time (since 2002) most loved women are Kate Beckinsale, Megan Fox, Katy Perry, Christina Hendricks, Anna Torv, Angelina Jolie, Beau Garrett, and Monica Bellucci. In the thumbnail preview shots, two of the women appear to be putting their fingers in their mouths, one is lying in bed seductively, one is wearing a wet T-shirt and one has her lips parted suggestively. Only Angelina’s image suggests some kind of self-respect.
I click on bustier-clad Katy Perry and skip down to the interview, trying to ignore Ms. Perry in full black lingerie (complete with garter belt). After all, this is about man at his best; there must be something serious here that we all love so much.
Ah, here it is: “I always wanted to suspend from the ceiling in a twirling banana,” Katy tells Esquire.
I’m done. I close the browser window and stare out the window.
Who are the men Esquire’s talking about? What is it that we love about these women? Their twirling-banana-swing fantasies? Their factory-fresh “breasts”? Their naughty smiles? Are those things truly what men at their best love about women?
Oh, it gets better.
In media and culture, men are increasingly caricatured as knuckle-dragging cartoon characters, particularly when it comes to how we view women and sexuality. And by whom? Men, of course. It’s not women running the strip clubs, porn websites and editing spreads in Esquire. We have an enemy, and the enemy is us.
Yes, good men love women. But we love women in all their complexity — for the things they do, for their intelligence, their wit, their athleticism, their creativity, their power and their force of personality. We seem to have forgotten that along the way. Our brain-numbing intoxication by pornography in all its forms threatens to end us — not because it is morally wrong, but just because it distracts us from the truth and scatters our power. It’s one big acid trip fantasy with no connection to improving our lives, being good fathers and husbands and advancing our careers.
Why is this article so badass? Because it is written by a man. It is rare to see — in mainstream media, in particular — men questioning the overly sexualized, brainless portrayals of women that permeate our culture. So high five to Tom Matlack! Way to be awesome.