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MTV Movie Awards: What Message Do We Send by Using Shirtless Men as Props?

The fact that Amy Schumer was tapped to host the MTV Movie Awards seemed to prove a very important point: Women are no longer the punchline — we’re the ones delivering it.

And, for the most part, I was not disappointed. Sure, Schumer’s humor was very adult. But, seeing as I am in fact very adult myself (and my daughter isn’t old enough to feel like she’s adult enough to watch), I enjoyed every tawdry minute of it.

Still, there were a few moments that left me feeling a bit unsettled.

You see, while I adore Schumer’s sexually driven sense of humor and bawdy commentary, there were certain times when what accompanied her jokes felt — dare I say it? — sexist to me.

MTV Movie Awards


I mean, I’m in favor of hot shirtless dudes as much as the next gal, but is it necessary to parade them around as props during an award show largely pandering to teenage girls? What message are we sending, exactly — that while it’s not OK to objectify women, it’s totally cool to objectify men?

I get it. Women have been objectified for ages. We have been the ones used as sexual accoutrements in men’s comedy. That doesn’t make it right, though. In fact, it’s precisely my point.

While it’s great women aren’t being demeaned, are we taking it too far by demeaning men? Maybe… maybe not.

As my fellow writer Tiffany Antone pointed out about the skit in question (the one with random attractive, shirtless men strewn about the stage and audience), “It fits the whole Schumer vibe. She’s so sex-positive and in-your-face about it. I don’t think she’d call it demeaning so much as fair play.”

But if the shoe were on the other foot — or, rather, the shirt were, uh, off the other chest? — would we find the bit funny at all, or would we be raising hell?

When Television Academy Chairman Bruce Rosenblum put Sofia Vergara on a rotating pedestal at the 2014 Emmy Awards, social media users blasted the Academy for what most perceived to be a blatantly sexist skit that served as little more than an excuse to objectify women.

Modern Family wins every award it’s ever nominated for but apparently that’s not enough for Sofia Vergara to be treated as more than a prop,” Twitter user @samala_prosser wrote.

If those had been scantily clad women used as props for comedic fodder tonight, the dialogue surrounding the show would undoubtedly be about sexism as opposed to empowerment.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m just as guilty of flipping the script and objectifying men sometimes. (This isn’t hard to unearth — I once wrote an article purely for the sake of ogling Dwayne Johnson.) Maybe self-awareness is the first step to change.

And maybe our collective self-awareness will help us keep the pendulum from swinging too far in the opposite direction. There’s gotta be a happy medium, right?

Do you feel like the shirtless men skit objectified men or was it fair play? Fill us in with a comment below!

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