Magic Mike Turns Tables on Objectification, Desire
I must be obsessed with male strippers, you think, with a third post inspired by “Magic Mike.” Maybe. I am obsessed with objectification and desire, and that movie offers the rare turning of tables to see what’s on the other side.
In this table-turning do women experience men in the way that men typically experience them? I’ve already suggested that the answer is no.
However, we’re seeing chinks in the armor. In “Magic Mike” women’s desire is acknowledged and catered to as the camera hones in on glutes and abs to accommodate the female gaze… and as Matthew McConaughey bends over to give us a full-moon shot.
All this in a place with “no men allowed.” Not formally, as Joanna Schroeder over at the GoodMenProject points out, but because most men don’t want to be there. But that “all-estrogen” space can feel empowering.
And for once women are calling the shots (or feel like they are) demanding, “Take it all off!” and letting ‘em know what they like: “Yeahhh honey, do it again!”
Only problem is that objectification is damaging. When women or men are objectified their looks and their sexuality become their worth – in their own minds and in the minds of others.
Those who objectify themselves are prone to body shame, low self-esteem, depression, eating disorders and sexual dysfunction. They even have more difficulty navigating everyday life because they’re so distracted by how their body looks.
And the objectified are treated like “things,” meant to serve others’ desires. They are things that lack thought or emotion, so they are not offered empathy. And when they age and lose their sex appeal they are worth nothing at all.
Do we really want to turn others into objects? (Keep in mind that it is possible to be sexy without being a sex object.)
But looking closer we see the table is only half-turned: women are also objectified, even in this film. While not revealing any male body parts that are prohibited on a public beach, the film hones in on naked breasts from time to time. One of the strippers even passes his wife around and encourages the guys to fondle her breasts because “she loves it.”
Meanwhile, the simulated sex on stage often mimics male pleasure, with women’s heads shoved against cocks and men humping women’s faces or behinds. How about a little clitoral action?
And in a movie that promises to take us out of our boxes we end up right back inside the virgin/whore dichotomy as Magic Mike chooses between the sexually adventurous Joanna and the virginal Brooke. No surprise, really, who triumphs.
So things have changed and they’ve stayed the same, which provokes the question: Where do we want to go?
Posted on July 18, 2012, in feminism, gender, objectification, pornography, psychology, sex, sexism, women and tagged feminism, gender, Magic Mike, male strippers, objectification, pornography, psychology, sex, sexism, women. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.