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Magic Mike: How it is (and isn’t) promoting gender equality


The Magic Mike XXL trailer was released earlier this week and people around the world watched with glee, but it turns out not everyone was super-excited about the preview.

While some people welcomed the opportunity to take in some super-hot man candy, others felt that the male objectification was gross and unfair. “They marginalize brains and the inevitable lovable paunch that comes with being a breadwinner and not having time to pump oneself into an aerobicized lug who writhes onstage for plus-sized patrons wielding rolled up one-dollar bills,” writes Mike Fleming Jr. in a piece on Deadline. “Will it be an impediment to post-movie romance because real men are not ab-worthy compared to Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer and Joe Mangianello?”

While the article is (hopefully) a satirical piece, it brings up a great question: Are movies featuring male objectification a step forward for gender equality, or a giant step back for feminism?

More: Matt Bomer is counting down the days until the end of Magic Mike

The fact that women are now even provided with a mainstream opportunity to enjoy a movie that was made for the sole purpose of ogling men is not something that has been prevalent in our society, while straight men have been given films revolving around their own sexual fantasies since the dawn of modern filmmaking. Women being able to objectify men for entertainment is a sign of the times. Maybe it makes some men uncomfortable for that reason alone: The playing field is leveling out and the script is being flipped so that women aren’t the only sex being portrayed in a submissive light.

The objectification of women is everywhere, not in just an occasional stripper movie. It’s in films, it’s in advertising, it’s on TV shows, it’s at sporting events, it’s in bars and restaurants, it’s in the workplace. This is something that women are bombarded with every single day, whereas it’s less often that you see men in the same position. But maybe movies like Magic Mike prove that is changing.

The fact that Fleming ignored female objectification in his statement shows he totally understands the irony of people becoming upset with male objectification in the new trailer. (That is, if the piece is, indeed, satire. If not — yikes.) It’s obvious that women put up with objectification all of the time. However, Fleming’s statement also makes me empathize with men in two ways. One being that the actors in Magic Mike aren’t accurate or fair ways to depict men, and it’s totally possible that it will make some men feel bad about themselves. The other is that I also personally feel it’s fun to watch this trailer, so it gives me a tiny bit of understanding about how men feel when they watch a Victoria’s Secret commercial.

It’s also arguable that films like this are a step back for feminism because the movement, at its core, promotes equality for all, and while this film makes male-female objectification a tad more symmetrical, it still leaves the door wide open for the continuing objectification of women. This, in my opinion, is where modern-day feminism becomes confusing.

That being said, I’m counting the days until July 1 and have watched the trailer at least 15 times since it came out on Wednesday.

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