Equal-Opportunity Objectification


It’s always amusing when people defend their racist or sexist ideas by pointing out others who are doing roughly the same thing, only more loudly or obnoxiously. More amusing still are those that defend themselves by claiming that what is obviously racist or sexist is, in fact, somehow good, forward-thinking, or progressive.

Consider, if you will, Alex Bilmes, the editor of Esquire, talking about women featured in the men’s magazine. At first, one has to admire his earnestness: he doesn’t deny the fact that women are objectified in every sense of the word, on the same level as sports cars. Of the women featured in Esquire, he said, “I could lie to you if you want and say we are interested in their brains as well. We are not. They are objectified.” He further describes Esquire women as “ornamental”.

Well. Okay, we’re on the same page, at this point. Notice also how he said “we”. This guy’s an asshole, and totally unashamed of it.

We begin to diverge when he tries to claim that Esquire is “more honest” than women’s magazines in terms of its depiction of women. Women’s magazines only feature a certain type of woman, according to Bilmes. Esquire, on the other hand, objectifies women who are “more ethnically diverse, more shape diverse.” He also added that “in fashion magazines women are much thinner. We have older women, not really old, in their 40s.”

So Esquire is an equal-opportunity patriarchal establishment, by Bilmes’ own assessment: they will objectify any vagina-carrying entity (under 40, of course), be they black, white, thin, fat (not too fat, of course), unlike those backwards fashion magazines. Tasteful.

It’s interesting that he doesn’t see the irony (or hypocrisy) of his “older women” comment, either, but after all, he’s the editor of Esquire– one shouldn’t be too harsh.

(p.s. fashion mags, Esquire may be a sad waste of glossy paper with an ass for an editor, but you’re not off the hook. I might feel better if you publicly owned that you objectify women to make money off of them.)

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