The Star recently did their list of sexist guys alive and being the pervert that I am, I had to buy the magazine. Of course, I am drawn to these lists for all of the wrong reasons and I openly admit that they objectify men. I will however qualify that statement and add that there is an immense difference between men and women being reduced to their physical appearance, because of the gender imbalance that we currently live with. When we look at a man’s physical body, it is never seen as limiting his potential, whereas for women, success is often judged on their ability to meet standardized norms of femininity. Women are routinely viewed as fuckable objects, rather than autonomous beings.
Take a moment to clear your head, because I know I had to. While these men are for the most part extremely attractive (Skarsgard is mine), the absence of a significant number of men of colour is extremely telling. We have no problem promoting and cheering for hypermasculinity; however, it is actively discouraged in men of colour. Though men of colour do exist with male privilege, White masculinity has no intention of allowing anything resembling equality. This kind of racist erasure is often defended by saying attraction is an individual choice, but in fact, what we are sexually attracted to is a combination of individual inclinations and images that are repeatedly placed in front of us. Certain bodies are elevated as attractive because they maintain a hierarchy of race, class and size.
As women we face a great deal of sizesm, but the same issues apply to men. There is not a single man on the list that could be considered fat and yet there are attractive fat men. This is sizest and it is discrimination. Fat bodies are constructed as disgusting and highly unattractive and so it really is no surprise that they are invisible on this list. Fat men are thought of as jolly and self deprecating, certainly not sexy.
These lists tend to overwhelming be a celebration of conformity. Men that fit the mold of acceptable representations of masculinity are lauded and those on the outside are erased. Another key absence, is men with disabilities. Since when did disability mean that one is not attractive? There are various forms of disabilities and some are quite invisible, but when it comes to the promotion of masculinity, disability implies a weakness or even a feminization or childlike, and that is understood as strictly not masculine.
I will admit that as a heterosexual woman, I very much enjoy looking at lists like this. I won’t apologize for who I find sexually attractive, but as a thinking woman, I am woefully aware of this groupings shortcomings, and what it promotes. What is pleasurable for me to look at, is harmful to many because of the rampant erasure. Whom we deem attractive is never a simple issue, no matter how much we believe it is based in an animalistic urge.