Men as people but women as

This is a good one…

because the media present men as people but present women as sexual objects

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Now of course that could in theory be a misleading because unrepresentative selection of Rolling Stone covers. It could be that a representative selection of Rolling Stone covers would show an equal number of men posing with strategic clothes left off and a seductive facial expression, and an equal number of women head and shoulders face front with shirt on looking thoughtful/sullen. That could be, in principle. But in reality?

You be the judge.


  1. Decker says

    I very much agree with this. Many hip upscale publications do that sort of thing.

    What I don’t understand is this: Why do successful and. I presume, intelligent women like Sarah Michel Geller allow themselves to be portrayed in such a manner?

    Geller’s photo looks like it belongs on the cover of a porn video.

  2. sambarge says

    Decker @ #1

    Women internalize the messages of society because we’re human too.

    The message that men are desirable because they are successful but women are successful because they are desired is understood by men and women alike. Women in the entertainment industry are under a great deal of pressure to conform to this dictum.

    Some covers are less provocative than Rolling Stone but this magazine markets heavily to men so women on the cover have to appeal to the male magazine-buying population. Note the difference between the covers of say FHM and Vogue. All unrealistic standards of beauty (obvious from the photoshop) but, like the RS covers of women featured here, FHM has a definite “porny” vibe to it unlike Vogue (or Glamour or Cosmo or any other magazine marketed to women).

    Actually, RS is comparatively high-brow porn. Buffy has “power” and Geller is spread-eagle to implicitly remind us where a woman’s power comes from. FHM would just have her half-naked and sucking a lollipop.

  3. Decker says

    Women in the entertainment industry are under a great deal of pressure to conform to this dictum.

    I’m sure you’re quite right about that.

    However, I doubt very much if higly successful women like Susan Sarandon or Meryl Streep would ever volunteeer to be photographed is a pose akin to Geller’s.

    Yes, the pressure is there, but it’s still possible to resist it and remain successful.

    My opinion of S.M.Geller isn’t what it used to be.

  4. Maureen Brian says

    Sorry, sambarge, but I’m successful because I’m successful. I’m successful because of what I’ve achieved. The fact that I’m a woman is information of interest but was never the determining factor.

    The message that men are desirable because they are successful but women are successful because they are desired is understood by men and women alike.

    Fuck! That! Noise!

  5. lakitha tolbert says

    It’s not just magazines. Every form of media that is aimed at the 18-49 male is a toxic stew of this stuff. From tv shows where doctors and detectives all dress sexy, to tv ads where sex is used to sell things not even remotely associated with sex ( like Cheetos), to video games, summer blockbusters where the movie isn’t over till the hero is awarded with the girl, and comic books with their butts and boobs posing for nearly every female character in them. All of it is basically low grade porn aimed at this age group and if you have paid any attention to media at all you’ve drunk the Koolaid.

    So yeah ,just like there are PoC who hate other PoC, and gay people who are homophobic, there are women out there who hate women and are perfectly willing to throw other women and people of marginalized groups under the bus to make themselves feel good, or further their careers or simply bc they don’t question any of the things they consume.

    It’s just part of the culture.

  6. Blanche Quizno says

    I don’t like the sound of it either, Maureen, but that doesn’t change the reality of it.

    We can rage against the machine all we want, but the machine’s still there. A lot of people are working to change it, but there’s a lot of work left to do.

    Congratulations on your achievements.

  7. sambarge says

    I doubt very much if higly successful women like Susan Sarandon or Meryl Streep would ever volunteeer to be photographed is a pose akin to Geller’s.

    Nor would they be asked to. They are significantly older and no longer sexually desirable to the men who purchase this magazine. Check out some of Sarandon’s early work though, if you think she would clutch her pearls at the thought of a sexually provocative photo. Streep has always managed to keep her persona more about the work than her appearance but she’s still beautiful and, anyway, there is always room for a Madonna in the Madonna/Whore Dichotomy, right?

    Maureen Brian – Sorry I was unclear. I don’t agree with the statement “men are desirable because they are successful but women are successful because they are desired”. I was just using it to explain the double standard in media that produces covers like the 4 posted in the Twitter pic above. I agree that women around the world are successful in a myriad of ways (some recognized, some not) that are unconnected to their sexual desirability.

    It was a response to Decker’s suggestion that Geller and Jackson should not participate in sexually exploitative covers.

  8. Maureen Brian says


    We know about the double standard. I can remember running into it a school, where women teachers born in the first two decades of the of the twentieth century were fully conversant with the idea and able to discuss both my and their own experience with it.

    Then off I went to university in 1960 where we discussed it again in the process of learning concepts like mores and class and race. (It was a brilliant time to be at university doing just that – civil rights movement in the US still in the news, things kicking off in Apartheid South Africa and universities expanding with more women and more working class people arriving to do a wider range of subjects. Oh, and Richard Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy – he was from about 3 miles across the city, the “wrong” and grimy side of the River Aire – was still a talking point for many disciplines.)

    I’m not pulling rank on you. I know there are women 50 years younger who understand the double standard perfectly well and not a few little seven-year-olds in dungarees and trainers could give you a fair account of the idea. So as explanation it’s redundant.

    The thing is that such a sentence is so offensive and so oppressive it can never be neutral, never, even when it’s there, as I’m sure you intended, as illustration. Just think for a minute of the similar sentences which used to be common currency – about Black people, about Jews, about those with disabilities – not based in any way on fact, regurgitated long after they had been proved to be nonsense but recited endlessly (I’m sure some still are but in private!) as though they were a law of physics.

    So why is that idea still current? And why is someone perfectly reasonable “just repeating” it without any thought as to its effect. Where do you think young Rodger first picked up the ideas which led him into dangerous ideologies and eventually to the Isla Vista mini-massacre?

    One day maybe 150 years down the line that very sentence may appear in a history or sociology textbook as evidence of a silly idea which jus’ kept on goin’. By then it will have quotation marks around it and there will be a footnote giving the source in full and it will appear in a 30-page chapter on daft ideas and how they were both deliberately and lazily perpetuated.

    Then and only then will that sentence be neutral. Maybe.

  9. Decker says

    @Sambarge They’re not ‘old’ at all when it comes to this.

    Sarandon was 12 years younger than her husband.

  10. sambarge says

    We know about the double standard.

    If we know, then why did Decker feign ignorance about what motivates even successful actresses to pose provocatively?! I was responding to him. I was explaining it, not supporting or justifying it. I don’t agree with it. I wasn’t repeating it with a “that’s just how it is” attitude. I was explaining why Sarah Michelle Geller (who is successful but not that successful) would participate in a sexually provocative photo-shoot for Rolling Stone.

  11. says

    Also, it’s requiring the victims to be responsible for making it better.

    Why is it Ms. Gellar’s job to make men treat her like a human being? Why isn’t it their job to simply be decent human beings?

    She wants to work. Working is easier when she’s in the public eye. Getting in the public eye, for a woman actor, happens in two ways: you can submit to the beauty standard and get on the cover of magazines, or you can not submit to the standard, and get on the cover of supermarket tabloids with big lurid headlines about how you’re “letting yourself go”.

    James Earl Jones, once asked why he would take jobs that were degrading or demeaning to Black people, pointed out that he was a Black man trying to make a living in Hollywood, and he wasn’t in a position to be telling paying clients that he wouldn’t work for them, or to become known as “difficult” (late TwenCen-speak for “uppity”).

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