I think that most of us would agree that sexism is wrong. Just like displays of racism, anti-Semitism and ageism which should be frowned upon and advocates of such prejudice be tarred and feathered and paraded through the city. Those medieval ancestors of ours really knew how to make a point.
As a young man growing up, I knew that it was right to treat women as equals. They could be anything that they wanted to be and as adept or even better than any man in the role they chose. Fair enough and just deserts for the struggle of the suffragette movement of times gone by. Everyone knows that sexism is unjustified.
So surely the same can be said for sexism against men? Discriminating or objectifying men must be as bad as doing likewise to women? But it doesn’t seem to quite work out that way.
A man who feels objectified in the workplace by an older female colleague risks ridicule if he crys sexism. And now there is a new website that was set up with the sole aim to objectify attractive male London Underground passengers. TubeCrush is not, as you may think, a website that is dedicated to the perils of travelling on the London Underground in rush hour; it encourages people to upload secretly taken photographs of male passengers who they find attractive. Hmm… Highbrow it isn’t.
Now tell me, if this website was set up for people to send photographs of attractive female passengers, what would the general consensus be? Outrage perhaps? Understandably, you would probably think that any man who participated in taking and uploading the totty shots was a complete loser with a possible drooling tendency. So why should we think any different of the women who participate in TubeCrush?
One woman attempted to defend herself as reported in the Evening Standard by saying that it was redressing the balance. Women have suffered years of being objectified, so this is only fair, right? Wrong. You’re not redressing the balance unless those men themselves have actually been sexist. Taking pictures of innocent men without their knowledge is not redressing the balance. And anyway, wouldn’t you rather rise above such an inane pastime?
I’m sure that many of the men would be delighted to know that they have made the ‘grade’. But how would you know, if you have not asked for their permission. I imagine that their girlfriends possibly wouldn’t be too pleased at the coverage!
I know that I felt annoyed at people who took photos of me without asking when I was in Vietnam. But at least I presumed that they were keeping them for their own collection. If I ever found out that my mugshot was featured on http://www.freakishlytallwhiteguyswithstupidhair.vn then, I have to say, I would feel violated. I’m not a piece of meat. With spikey hair.
In today’s multi-media world, we are constantly bombarded with objectified images of both genders. Sex sells, there’s no question of that, it goes with the territory. But surely what the rules are for one gender must also be the rules for the other, just as between different races and religions. You can’t ignore the obvious and seek to redress past inequalities with yet more inequalities practised on new victims. That really is a fuzzy logic to adopt.
Make your mind up: sexism is either right or wrong. You can’t have it both ways.