In a recent advertising campaign for H&M’s new range of underwear by the man himself, we see David Beckham stripping down to the bare essentials and running about a bit. Now, I’m sure I will alienate about 99% of my hetero female and gay male readership by saying this but, I don’t find Becks attractive. I think he looks a bit like a lizard.
Don’t worry, I’ll hang up my ‘Valid Woman’ hat and let myself out.
Back to my point, many people will find him attractive and will probably have thought they’d drifted off into a some sort of sordid daydream when the advert first came on TV, probably with embarrassing consequences. But is it OK to salivate over Becks – or another man for that matter- like he’s a piece of freshly baked apple pie? Technically that would be objectifying him just as much the plethora of half naked women we see on a day to day basis in the media but is it just as sexist? Is it just as degrading? Spoiler alert: I’m going to say no.
It’s a tricky problem for me to un-tangle and I will explain why. I am female. Ever wondered why I don’t try and talk about male inequality? You’ve guessed it, because I am female. I will never know exactly what it’s like to be a man, mainly because of a very minor, yet significant, difference in the genitalia department (if we’re going for the purely biological approach to defining sex). So take this as somewhat of a disclaimer; some men might find the advert incredibly degrading and offensive, but I cannot speak for them and nor will I try to. I will give my reasoning as to why I think the things I do about David Beckham based in fact, anecdote and witty side remarks (and of those, there are plenty of course…) But I will never fully be able to comprehend what it is like to live as a man, without making some pretty massive life choices. I will never, for example, understand why my boyfriend spends about 60% of his day thinking, playing or talking about football, just as he doesn’t understand my need for a daily fix of fluffy animals on YouTube. God knows why, I could literally watch them all day long.
NEWSFLASH: The Beckhams are very rich. Victoria probably hires someone to tap away her hand every time she reaches for something other than a carrot stick. David Beckham does not NEED to be half naked in an advertising campaign because he is struggling to make rent.
The slogan ‘Sex Sells’ pretty much epitomises the advertising ethos of the 21st century, but more often than not it’s the women themselves who seem to be the object being sold. Page 3 models are, at best, the adult equivalent of a free lollipop with the Beano. As children, do you think they scribbled into their glitter-covered diaries about their dreams of one day whipping out their breasts for men to gawp at over their cornflakes? I don’t know, I haven’t read their diaries. That would be unethical. But I’d hasten to say it would most likely be a big fat no. These women, for whatever reason, feel like their only worth- the only way they can make themselves money- is in their breasts. In our society, if breasts were acorns, they’d grow into Oak trees that sprout money at every branch. David Beckham on the other hand, is not only an incredibly talented football player but he also counts being an ambassador for a Sainsbury’s campaign to get children into sport, designer and model in his plethora of achievements.
But the fact remains that he is half naked and I doubt many people are considering his extensive charity work when watching him seductively remove his wedgie. But again, not being a huge Becks fan I can’t overly see the appeal of watching him do that and it does make me question the wearability of his range. Just sayin. Whether someone is objectified is mainly down to their perception, I believe. So since Becks is not short on cash and could have hired someone else to model the range, then I can’t see any other reason except that he probably just really wanted to. He probably caught a glimpse of his biceps in the mirror after a shower and thought it would be wrong not to share it with the world. I have similar thoughts myself.
After speaking to some menfolk about this issue I got the general idea that images in the media don’t seem to affect them in the same way they do for women. They can see that Beckham looks good or perhaps aspire to get SUPER BUFF like Christian Bale in Batman, but for women it seems it has a much deeper impact on their self-esteem. Women don’t admire Page 3 from afar; it makes them- in general- seethe with a burning rage of a thousand suns. Or maybe that’s just me.
So is it wrong to perv on Becks? Things such as Page 3 and pornography (same diff) set such unrealistic expectations for women which have a direct impact on the way your everyday woman on the street is seen, and more importantly, sees herself. She thinks she needs to be some sort of writhing, hairless creature with –literally- man made moneymakers stuck on her chest and when she’s not, she’s made to feel like less of a woman. More importantly, less of a person.
In the same way, perhaps seeing Becks in all his glory might make men insecure about their physique and might make them reach for the sock draw. But again, I can’t- and nor would I want to- speak for the nation’s men. The fact of the matter is, the man is selling underwear, so he’s not exactly going to be covering up in a roll-neck.
It is but human nature to find others attractive- and unless you’re about to flee to a nunnery- it’s perfectly acceptable. Just be discrete about it, OK?
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