When it comes to the objectification of men, the lines are always blurred. I was recently asked to comment on an article in the Telegraph about the website tubecrush.net (a website that allows users to upload photos they have taken of attractive men on the London tube).
The article itself, penned by journalist Radhika Sanghani, took the stance that this site was clearly dedicated to the objectification of men. She posed the idea that men love to be perved on by strangers. It was an outrage, and something should be done about it. Suggesting that there was a sinister side to it, she compared it to numerous sites and magazines that objectify women like Nuts, FHM and the highly controversial Facebook group 'What Women Eat On Tubes', a group that has users upload photos of unsuspecting women eating a wide array of culinary delights on their daily commute.
For me, I found her response to be a bit OTT on the political correctness front and I came to a very different conclusion.
Upon first viewing the site (and finding a friend of mine on there...AMAZING) I saw, like the article said, that it was laden with images of beautiful men. It was a veritable feast for the eyes. An image of some hot guy on the tube is uploaded with a section for people to comment.
Sounds like objectification right??
I was both shocked and amused at the concept. But it was when I started to look more closely that my opinion changed. The first thing I noticed was that the site does not discriminate on what is considered to be a 'Hot guy'. There are men of all shapes, sizes, different races, different heights, different body types etc. Everyone is considered fair game when it comes to snapping that picture of the unsuspecting tube traveller. It takes the clear stance that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and allows freedom for its users to embrace that concept. No photo shop, no special lighting, nothing but an attractive guy in all their early morning commuter glory.
Secondly, the comments are closely monitored and negative statements about an individual or Internet trolling are not tolerated. Because of this, the only comments you can find are of positive affirmation for the subject. It's about celebrating the beauty of the male form in all its glory.
But the thing that really changed my mind was how the unsuspecting tube travellers who appeared on the site embraced the idea completely. In fact, most of the men wore it like a badge of honor. The men absolutely loved being apart of it.
Surely then, this isn't objectification but more a celebration right? Even if some people find it is objectifying the men. Everything about it seems to encourage the idea that beauty is in what we see as the individual. It's about embracing the differences that make us all attractive in our own right. And that's what makes this site different from the usual trash we come across.
It's a bit of silly, inoffensive fun that can take the edge off the dreadful morning commute.
I for one am happy to be perved on and would be over the moon if I discovered my self on tubecrush.net.