Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Cosmo Objectifying Men is a Content Challenge

Rule #1 of being PC, you cannot be hypocritical. Meaning, if you're going to publish content outraged about men objectifying women, you can't later turn around an objectify men. 

It is amazing the double standards and selective listening we do as a society. No winners here: not the publisher, nor the two authors that created the respective content. It's hard to throttle serious content around objectification, than then have an objectification FTW moment later under the same brand's umbrella. 

Cosmo Objectifying Men
Cosmopolitan Magazine has no tolerance for men that objectify women, yet Cosmo is more than happy to objectify men. 

Publishers have it rough. It's readers very much could be interested in both pieces of content. Does it make sense for the brand to publish both pieces though? It's difficult to be serious one minute and then throw away any subject matter expertise gained to look at some Olympic bulges. 

I actually feel bad for the writer in article #1. Down the road googling about "Cosmo" and "objectifying" very well could lead to a photo of three guys bulges and to article #2 focusing on WHY IT'S OKAY to objective men (spoiler alert, because these men are athletes)

What if a male magazine did a 28 slide carousel dedicated to guessing thigh gaps and camel toes of female athletes? Would that be in fun or cause issues? If the gender tables were turned there would certainly be hashtag blow back towards the magazine, it's parent company and prominent advertisers. 

Did you see Cosmo's searing exploration of Olympic bulges the other day? You didn't? Shame on you — go peep it immediately. Here's why you should, besides the obvious appeal of seeing a very detailed outline of an Olympic peen: Cosmo got yelled at for it. Specifically, an agent who reps two of the bulge-owning male athletes demanded it be removed from Cosmopolitan.com. Fortunately, the guys themselves had other ideas. 
To malign male objectification as condescending and unfair while embracing the objectification of women is a problem. Athletes and performers' bodies are their tools, so I'm not calling for everyone to suddenly stop judging them on their looks or physique. But it's only fair that both sexes are objectified equally. Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to go Google "Michael Fassbender penis."

My bad, all good. A few of the athletes took it in fun. While it will probably elevate their image (yikes unintended pun), it's the wrong message, and it's wrong to write it off as just a hypersensitive athlete's agent. We would never have a male pro athlete tell aspiring young male swimmers to practice often, eat well, and fluff up before heading out towards the cameras.

Equally, a rape victim would never be asked, "wellllll what were you wearing the night of the rape?" "Oh a short skirt... uh huh... you know it's part your fault for drawing that type of attention to yourself."

The bottom line, brands can't be in the business of fighting the objectification of women while moonlighting in the business of objectifying men. Looks like the author, Anna Breslaw, is taking some heat online for this 2014 article that referenced Olympic bulges from 2012. I empathize with her. What she wrote was fun, playful, also made some important hypocrisy points of its own.

Sadly we're becoming so serious as a society that we can't be playful like this. It costs us our sense of humor, but in exchange heightened respect is given. It's been like this for a while -- a male magazine and male author couldn't objectify like this towards women, even with a moral to the story at the end. In an odd twist, seems like this round of internet outrage is a sign of gender equality.

p.s. Cosmo isn't the first to have a double standard on this topic, and won't be the last. Elite Daily did the same back in 2015.

via Elite Daily: Why It’s Completely Okay To Objectify Men…No Really, It Is (2015)
Hey, that doesn't look like consent. Is he a victim or the luckiest guy ever? What if the attractiveness level was maintained, but gender roles reversed to "one female having a towel pulled by four males."

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