My entire life, I have been told I’m not your “typical girl.” I hate when women say that about themselves because, to me, it sounds like, “Look at me! Aren’t I special/unique/better than other women you could be dating right now?!” But even now at 21 years old, I am often referred to as being “practically a guy,” among other things that suggest I’m not very feminine. Even my boyfriend of a year and a half jokes about my disdain for girls’ nights out, girl time, girl movies and anything else I’m told I’m supposed to like because it has the word “girl” in it. I wasn’t aware “feminine” meant all that. But even with all of this, I never really think I’m that different… until movies like Magic Mike come out.
For those of you who don’t have very many oversexed women in your lives, Magic Mike is a movie about male strippers. I really don’t have to continue explaining it since that’s basically the gist of the entire movie. But if you need more details, the IMDB storyline reads, “A male stripper teaches a younger performer how to party, pick up women, and make easy money.” So that’s it. That’s all you need to know.
What surprises me every time a movie like this comes out is just how many women turn out for it. Today, my Facebook news feed was full of girls I graduated with, giggling about how excited they were to see Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey half-naked. At the same time, I saw a ton of statuses from my male friends, lamenting about how hypocritical it was for women to scoff at movies that “objectify” them and then get a whole group of friends together to see a trashy film like this. I have to say, I sympathize with the guys on this one. But maybe for a slightly different reason than simple objectification.
Romantic movies, novels and other assorted targeted media outlets are often considered porn for women. Just like porn often does for men, these things build up unrealistic expectations for what the opposite sex should look or act like, for what love and sex should look like, and for what you should do to get all three of these things in one nice, little package. But worse than that, porn for men and porn for women send a signal to the opposite gender that says, “This is what we’re expecting from you. So get to it.”
How many women struggle with eating disorders or self-image problems because of the models that college men hang up posters of in their rooms? Or how many of them beat themselves up for not being skilled in bed or sexy enough because of what men expected based on pornography? I can’t go a week without seeing a Facebook post with 200,000 notes, complaining about how wrong this is. But here’s what I have to say to that: this goes both ways.
Many of the women I know consume a daily digest of Cosmopolitan’s advice, Nicholas Sparks’ novels, and every terrible romantic movie that is haphazardly thrown onto a screen. Because of that, every girl is waiting for this prototype male to come along with his six-pack, blue eyes and jaded past that he’s willing to let go of if she will just love him! And once he fits that checklist you put together, you two will be in love forever. I’ll tell you right now: this checklist-fulfilling man doesn’t exist. And that is why you can’t find him.
So because of my female race’s demands, my male friends have fallen into their own problems. I know guys who put on this false macho-man persona that turns them into assholes, work out to the point of exhaustion because they have distorted views of their bodies and pick up women with the sole intent of sleeping with them. Why? Because we have told men this is what we want. Whether you recognize it or not, supporting movies like Magic Mike say, “This is exactly how you should be acting if you want to get a girlfriend.” So when thousands of women put money into seeing men who act like this, they shouldn’t be so shocked when the men around them act that way. Women who complain about male “pigs” objectifying them need to take a good hard look at themselves. How many of you are going to this movie because you like Channing Tatum’s personality or acting abilities? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that no one is.
Women, if you’re happy to perpetuate the cycle of the “asshole men” you say you’re “so over,” then be my guest. Go see Magic Mike. Continue to tell men that we want you to treat us like objects, we want you to use us for sex, and we want you to not even consider who we are beneath our physical appearance. Because that is what we are doing to men by seeing movies like this. We are telling them this exact thing.