I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline a few days ago and came across an article that intrigued me. It was about a video of Ezra Miller's band Sons of an Illustrious Father, covering "Don't Cha" by the Pussycat Dolls. The cover was interesting and the video was very artistic. However, it was something else lit up a fire of extreme annoyance within me.
Towards the end of the article, bandmate Lilah Larson said the original song has a "very destructive, dated, distinctly heterosexual male perspective on women and discourses of desire."
It got me thinking about the way male heterosexuality is viewed in today's culture. There seems to be an unfair double standard when it comes to straight men and straight women. When straight women are confident in their sexuality and have fun with it, they're often viewed as empowering. When straight men do the same, they're often viewed as predatory.
In recent years, much of this attitude can be stemmed from the growth of the #MeToo movement. I would hope it's clear that you can't judge a group of people based on the bad actions of some. Not to mention the fact that there's a big difference between sexual harassment and men simply having fun with their sexuality.
Don't get me wrong, I believe sexual harassment and assault is wrong. It's a horrible crime that nobody should have to experience or endure. However, the obvious gender disparity in terms of representation is helping nobody. When Harvey Weinstein's female accusers come forward, nobody can escape the headlines. Yet, when Asia Argento was accused of the same thing by Jimmy Bennett, the story came and went fairly quickly. There was even a photo of the two in bed and texts Rose McGowan's partner provided where Argento admitted the whole thing. There's also the untrue perception that if it's a male victim, he must've wanted it and should've enjoyed it. It's no wonder so many men don't come forward about these sorts of incidents.
My point being that men shouldn't be treated as predators while women are treated as angelic creatures who can do no wrong. I don't think it should be the other way around, either. And I don't think we should treat both as predators, because that will only bring us to a place of prudishness. We should be able to recognize when something is harassment and when it isn't. We also need to recognize when objectification is harmful and when it isn't.
Not all women like to be objectified, but there are some women (and men) who get off on it. Some women even sign up for it, like in the adult entertainment industry. In that case, they might not be getting off on it, but there's an understanding and it's consensual.
We also can't assume that a man is objectifying a woman just because he likes the way she looks. Especially if it's just a woman in a magazine or someone walking down the street. What else does he know about her? At that point, all he knows is her looks. You can be sexually attracted to someone in a solely physical way and still think of them as a human being.
I grew up in a time when women were starting to take ownership of their sexuality and express it more in their art. It was a new shift that some people weren't used to. However, the place it's evolved to doesn't seem to be a fair one. I believe that what was meant to be a push for equality moved into a place of replaced superiority. While the pop music world is currently ruled by women, men come secondary, if at all.
We see it in the imagery as well. A female pop star can have a bunch of shirtless guys bumping and grinding behind her. But if a man were to do the same thing, we would claim he's objectifying those women. Look at the controversy surrounding Robin Thicke's song, "Blurred Lines." People called the song "rapey" and demeaning to women. They took particular issue with the line, "I know you want it."
Yet, when Jessie J released her song "Bang Bang" shortly afterward, it included the same lyric. Even "Don't Cha" by the Pussycat Dolls included this line as well. However, nobody was batting an eye. It was given a pass, if not completely ignored.
When you look into what these critics say, it comes across as pretty insulting to the women they're trying to defend. Most people missed the fact that the "Blurred Lines" music video was directed by a woman. They also don't seem interested in the perspectives of the female models who appear in the video. Do the models think they're being demeaned? Why would they appear in such a video if they did?
Women still have to fight this battle of being able to prove they can own their sexuality. It's only acceptable if it's done in a way that falls in line with the status quo. But if you dare participate in something outside of that, you're seen as someone who couldn't possibly think for yourself. Look at the straight porn industry, for instance. Many people view porn as degrading to women and look at female porn stars as being objectified by men.
What many fail to realize, is that women in porn make the choice to get into the industry. People aren't forcing these women to make porn films. Female porn stars get to choose their male scene partners. They also make more money than their male co-stars. In straight porn, women make more money than men for the same hours worked in the same job at the same company. Think about that. Why aren't feminists getting angry over a gender pay gap that underpays men?
What has become clear to me is that this double standard is harmful to both men and women. Straight men should be allowed to have fun and enjoy the opposite sex the same way women can. Women should be able to take control of their sexuality whichever way they choose. The lesson everyone should learn from this is to lighten up. Male heterosexuality isn't inherently harmful or scary. Women have a mind of their own. If people really believed in gender equality, they would accept those two things.