sex in press
Shutterstock/Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley

Objectification: pleased to meat you

By Steve Korver Thursday, May 28, 2015 - 11:13
‘Breastaurants’ are bad for men’s health… The more naked you are, the stupider you seem… TV is growing some testicles… These news flashes and more in this week’s Sex in the Press.

Weapons of mass distraction

“So-called ‘Breastaurants’ spark a lot of controversy for what many critics complain amounts to the objectification of women,” according to ‘Leaked memo reveals what breastaurants actually think of their customers’.

“Case in point: Twin Peaks, a Texas-based chain that was founded in 2005 to provide an even racier alternative to the ubiquitous Hooters franchise, was the fastest-growing restaurant chain in the U.S. in 2013.”

“Men are simple creatures and so you don’t have to get too crazy to get them in the door,” says their female marketing director. All it takes is beer, sports and scantily dressed waitresses equipped with “weapons of mass distraction”.

And men are certainly not looking for a place to talk about their feelings.

“But the restaurant chain’s internal memo aimed at ‘guys-guys’ is a reminder that deeply entrenched gender roles can also impact men. In a society where men are assumed to be ‘simple creatures’ who never want to talk about what they’re thinking or feeling, there isn’t a lot of room for more nuanced explorations of masculinity — something that researchers confirm has demonstrably negative consequences for men’s health.”

Certainly, a Twin Peaks in Waco, Texas had some serious impact on certain men’s health when it became the scene of a recent shoot-out between rival biker gangs. Nine died.

More naked, more stupid

Research from a couple of years ago revealed that objectification is more than just regarding someone as a piece of meat.

“Namely, that we treat those we objectify as less intelligent, yet simultaneously we endow them with a greater ability to feel things,” according to ‘What goes on in our minds when we see someone naked? The more we see of a person's body the stupider they seem.

In other words: they became “sexy beasts”.

In one study, “it turned out that naked porn stars are seen as having less competence but more sensitivity than their clothed selves.” And seeing someone – no matter if they are female or male – as incompetent “has well-documented consequences: discrimination, paternalism, and violence.”

“But in our culture women’s bodies receive greater attention, so they suffer this kind of dehumanisation more frequently […] Sexualisation — resulting from beauty pageants or the general media landscape — leads girls and women (and sometimes boys and men) to be dehumanised by others, and it also leads to self-objectification, where that dehumanisation is internalised. Focusing on one’s worth to others as a body can lead to eating disorders, reduced self-esteem, and depression. Girls can also fall prey to sexual stereotypes, avoiding other, more intellectual pursuits.”

Is TV finally growing some balls?

“Sex on television has gone from a titillating distraction to a real reflection of people’s lives,” according to ‘How TV sex got real’. This shift has resulted in a golden age of American television with shows such as Mad Men, Girls and House of Cards.

A decade or so ago, speedier internet connections meant speedier access to porn. At first, TV tried to compete with porn by becoming more like porn. But then some producers saw it as an opportunity to present sex in the way actual humans do it: sometimes hot, sometimes not, in all sorts of ways, involving all sorts of people, and with a whole range of emotions.

Around the same time, the American TV industry became less dominated by white straight males.

“When men are producing, directing and writing, they produce material that makes them feel safe. That’s why we see so many frumpy guys with beautiful wives on TV,” notes one female director.

“This reductive view of women is reinforced by camerawork and something that cultural critics call ‘the male gaze’. A traditional sex scene will take the male perspective and focus more on the woman than the man. The camera will settle on the glossy-lipped lady as she arches her back and does her best Victoria’s Secret ad impression. It’s what men see – or what they want to see – during sex, not what women actually experience.”

But now, TV shows are being more successful at reflecting a whole rainbow of ‘gazes’ – may they be female, gay or transgender.

The makers of one show even started following a “balls equality” rule: “for every boob that shows up, there should be a testicle to go with it.”

In other words: for every breastaurant, a testaurant…


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