I’d say that it’s hard to see how this newfound emphasis on beefcake is unfair, but that’s not true — “Skyfall” notwithstanding, there’s no way that men are objectified by Hollywood nearly as much as women are. It’s not close. What men are dealing with is just a taste of what women have had to put up with. If this troubles men, it should spur us to ask whether we’ve been ignoring legitimate complaints from women because until now, we weren’t suffering from the ridiculous skewing of body images in mass media. (Spoiler alert: we were.)
Cohen doesn’t consider any of this. Who cares what women want? What matters is what men want and this change, this demand that men worry excessively about how they look, is damaging to society.
This is all very sad news. Every rippling muscle is a book not read, a movie not seen or a conversation not held. That’s why Sean Connery was my kind of Bond. He was 53 when he made his last Bond film, “Never Say Never Again.” Women loved him because he was sophisticated and he could handle a maître d’ as well as a commie assassin. Western civilization was saved not on account of his pecs but on account of his cleverness and experience.
This is true. It’s also completely ignoring that every plucked eyebrow, every overly-complex coif, every day spent woozy from too few calories (because real women don’t weigh more than 115 pounds), every evening at the gym, every morning putting on make-up — all of these things have been demanded of women for far longer than I’ve been around, and until now we’ve heard nary a peep from Cohen. He doesn’t lament that Bond’s dalliances with younger women sets up men for unrealistic expectations, he doesn’t suggest that it would be nice to see Bond dating a woman close to his age for once, he doesn’t give women so much as one line in his screed.
No, the problem for Cohen is that he’s not 20 anymore, and 20-year-olds don’t find him particularly attractive, and that if he wants to win over a 20- or 30- or 60-year old, he’s going to have to actually put in effort to look good, rather than simply earning one by virtue of his long experience in the world. You know — an actual sexual meritocracy.
I’m sorry, Richard. I’m not 20 anymore either, and I’m not going to win Scarlett Johannson’s heart, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m not sitting around lamenting it. It seems to me that there are plenty of women out there who are about my age, plus or minus a few years, who — like me — maybe weigh more than average, or bear a scar or two from surgery, or somehow fall slightly outside some arbitrary and capricious beauty standard.
Women who are kind and decent and smart and funny, who I would frankly be lucky to meet. I’m fine with that. I don’t lament that I don’t look like Daniel Craig, because as I’ve aged I’ve gained wisdom, and I’ve realized that the mark of a mature human is the willingness to be comfortable in one’s own skin. Nobody should have to work out incessantly. Nobody should have to spend their lives worrying that they aren’t attractive enough. Nobody should have to live up to the ridiculous standards of Hollywood. Not men, not women, not anyone.
It is not surprising that Cohen should fail to even consider this from a woman’s point of view. Cohen is an expert in ignoring the wishes of women. Happily, I think most men are capable of making the connection between lingering shots of Bond’s pecs and lingering shots of Bond girls’ décolletages. If one bothers us, we need to address both.
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