I am of the opinion that to achieve true equality, whether it be related to race, gender, anything, a level playing field where the same rules apply to everyone is fundamental and needs to be established. That's fair enough, right?
I've never been a believer that a grace period of tit-for-tat type tactics will do anything but exacerbate problems, potentially alienate people who support your cause and generally bring about upset for innocent people caught in the social crossfire.
Last week I read an article on Little White Lies' website titled 'Five Reasons To Celebrate Male Objectification In Magic Mike XXL' which explained why objectifying men in films such as this is a good thing and it really challenged how I viewed this particular issue.
After reading through each point with as much open-mindedness as possible, my first question was "would a film objectifying female strippers be met with any praise at all, or would it be instantly dismissed as seedy and gross?"
The main point made in the article that stood out to me was the idea that power is the key here and that objectification is generally acceptable as long as there is less power held at the objectifier's end. The men depicted in this film are empowered by what they do, they are being adored and appreciated in a safe setting, rather than being leered at grotesquely.
The piece argued that you cannot simply flip round the genders here because men and women are not in the same boat and that men hold disproportionate power overall. In short, gender inequality allows for men to be objectified, for now.
I then referred back to my original philosophy; the rules need to apply to everyone, there can't be true equality with an imbalance of acceptable behaviour, can there? It seemed an odd idea to me, that while fighting for equality you could use existing inequality to benefit yourself. It seemed totally counterproductive at first, the idea that people could say, "I rightfully deserve to be equal and treated the same as you are, but for now let me make the most of my disadvantage by playing on it."
But then I realised, that rhetoric simply isn't the case at this moment in time. It would be, if the patriarchy was actively extending its hand to every woman with a golden ticket to equality but it isn't. It's still a battle that is being fought and is slowly being won. However, many men won't give up without all guns blazing and by guns I mean crap jokes about getting 'back in the kitchen'.
This type of man is the exact reason that male objectification is possibly a good thing. The people that refuse to drop their misogynistic, sexist views are clearly not going to be persuaded by niceties and will only react to a taste of their own medicine, they need to be shown with their own eyes what objectification feels like and how it affects people.
Sure, some men are going to see women's eyes light up at the scenes shown in films like Magic Mike and feel crushed and perhaps lose confidence in themselves but that's what we risk happening to women every time another HBO boob-fest is created, the world just expects them to deal with it and understand that men are sexual beings. What are a few bruised egos in exchange for more men understanding what it feels like to be on the receiving end of liberated sexuality?
Whether we end up at a point where everyone is fair game for objectification or nobody is, I do believe that to move forward in the long run there has to be a time when the same rules are applied to both genders. That is the definition of equality no matter what the issue.
Until true equality is achieved however, it is important that women get to decide for themselves how they promote feminism and tackle male chauvinism and if that means publicly appreciating a few chiseled torsos, then so be it. Men, if this upsets you, then sign up to a gym and tackle any inferiority complex that you might have. Or just accept that women, just like men, have varying desires and needs that you might not be a part of. It isn't personal.