Sexualization and objectification of women are rampant in Hollywood, but that doesn’t mean it only happens to women — men can be sexualized and objectified, too.
While it may be less common for men to be seen as objects, for many men it is just as frustrating as it is for women when they are. Here are 11 male celebs who have talked about hating being sexualized or objectified in roles.
Jacob Elordi opened up this year about his struggles feeling sexualized after starring in the Kissing Booth franchise and repeatedly having to take his shirt off.
“At the time, I was super young and got thrown into a world where everyone wanted to talk about my body. … It really fucking bothered me,” he said of his shirtless scenes in the film.
“You learn quickly that what people take away from those movies is your stature and your figure,” he later said of the attention on his body, which only continued when he began starring in Euphoria. “You have all sorts of aged people around the world only talking about what you look like.” Though he said it didn’t “keep him up at night,” he called it “frustrating” and worried that it would affect his own self-perception.
“I don’t think it’s really a conversation that people have in regards to men. … You’ll go to a shoot and you’ll be getting changed or something, and someone’s like, ‘Oooaaah, would you look?’ Can you imagine if I said to a woman, ‘Daaaaamn, look at your waist!’? Like, see you later. I would never do that, but I think people see it on their screens, so they think it’s okay.”
Kit Harington was similarly objectified after skyrocketing into stardom through playing Jon Snow in Game of Thrones. Like Elordi, he found the focus on his looks to be demeaning. “It’s in the same way as it is for women,” Harington said. “When an actor is seen only for her physical beauty, it can be quite offensive. It’s not just men that can be inappropriate sexually; women can as well.”
“I’m in a successful TV show in a kind of leading-man way, and it can sometimes feel like your art is being put to one side for your sex appeal. And I don’t like that. In this position, you get asked a lot, ‘Do you like being a heartthrob? Do you like being a hunk?’ Well, my answer is, ‘That’s not what I got into it for.’”
“I like to think of myself as more than a head of hair or a set of looks. It’s demeaning. Yes, in some ways you could argue I’ve been employed for a look I have,” he said in another interview. “But there’s a sexism that happens towards men.”
His Game of Thrones costar, Richard Madden, has dealt with the same issue. While he acknowledged, in an interview with Vogue, that he’d been naked onscreen a lot, he clarified that he doesn’t like it and is trying to do it less. “I read scripts where, within the first 15 pages, it says, ‘He gets into the shower…’ And I think, I know exactly what this is, it’s just a scene to get me to take my clothes off.”
“And then I’m like, ‘Right, if you can f**king explain to me why it’s important that I have my shirt off then I will absolutely do it. But if you can’t’ — which they often can’t — ‘then I won’t.’” Madden said there’s a shift in Hollywood, where men are becoming more conscious of objectification, which was a complaint previously focused on women.
He also said he’s been pressured to lose weight and have a certain body type for many roles, just like many female actors. “We’re projecting a very unrealistic body image. I find myself with actor friends — after we’ve done a kind of barely eating, working-out-twice-a-day, no-carbing thing for these scenes — looking at each other going: ‘We’re just feeding this same shit that we’re against.’”
Gilmore Girls star, Scott Patterson, also recently spoke about being objectified when he played Luke on the show — specifically in the 2003 episode “Keg! Max!” — saying he felt “incredibly small” and like “some kind of meat stick.”
In one scene, Sookie tells Lorelai about accidentally touching Luke’s butt, and the two then discuss his backside. Patterson said of the scene, “I realized it wasn’t OK, and it didn’t make me feel comfortable at all. It made me feel really embarrassed, actually.”
“It is infuriating to be treated that way — it is infuriating — because you’re being treated like an object,” Patterson continued. “It’s disturbing, and it’s disgusting, and I had to endure that through that entire scene and many takes. It was all about the butt, the butt, the butt, the butt. When we weren’t filming, we were sitting down — people were still talking about the butt, the butt, the butt. It was the most disturbing time I have ever spent on that set, and I couldn’t wait for that day to be over.”
While Sam Claflin didn’t say what role it was for, he, too, has been objectified in Hollywood. “I remember doing one job when they literally made me pull my shirt up and were grabbing my fat and going, ‘You need to lose a bit of weight,'” he said. “This other time they were slapping me. I felt like a piece of meat.”
“I’m not saying it’s anywhere near as bad as what women go through but I, as an actor approaching each job, am insecure — especially when I have to take my top off in it — and so nervous,” continued Claflin, who has gone shirtless for films like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. “I get really worked up to the point where I spend hours and hours in the gym and not eating for weeks to achieve what I think they’re going for.”
Matt Smith also said he had been objectified in his career without naming a specific role — instead just speaking about it in Hollywood at large. While talking about the issue of men in power abusing it in Hollywood (and other industries), Smith said, “That’s not to say I haven’t been objectified before by men, because I have — just like women are objectified. It is not exclusive to them. This happens to men, too.”
Rob Lowe is better known for shows like The West Wing, 9-1-1: Lone Star, and Parks and Recreation today, but he grew up as a teen star back in the ’80s. “When I was a teen idol, I was always unsettled by it and I could never really figure out why it was so unsettling,” he said. “And it wasn’t until years of therapy and getting sober and doing all the work on myself that I’ve done over the past 30 years that I realized it was the objectification. You realize, like, it has nothing to do with you.”
Acknowledging this conversation is usually about women, Lowe said he also dealt with it as a man. “It’s like I’ve been the person who’s walked down the street and had the construction workers whistling. … It’s not flattering.”
More recently, when promoting his show The Grinder, where he plays an actor who leaves his career because of constantly being asked to take his shirt off, Lowe said, “People go on and on about the objectification of women, and rightly so,” Lowe began. “But, what about the objectification of men? When was the last time you saw Grey’s Anatomy?”
Starring in the uber-sexual Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, it’s unsurprising that Jamie Dornan, who played the love interest, Christian Grey, felt sexualized. While acknowledging that it was unfair that Dakota Johnson has to do full nudity in the film while he did not, Dornan said he still felt objectified on set. “It’s not just the women, but men too.”
Henry Cavill, best known for playing Superman, has also become a modern sex symbol and isn’t always thrilled about it. “I mean, if a girl shouts something like, ‘Oi, love, fancy a shag?’ to me as I walk past, I do sometimes wonder how she’d feel if a builder said that to her. Although, of course, I wouldn’t feel physically threatened, as she might,” he said.
I’ve heard some things in my time, I have to say. I’d best not say what,” he continued. However, he says he doesn’t mind too much as long as he’s not with his girlfriend, and people are doing it to disrespect her. “People who don’t respect other people’s feelings really get my goat,” he said.
Man Men star, Jon Hamm, doesn’t always mind objectification — it just gets frustrating when it’s “annoying and obnoxious.” One such incident was when an article was published about his tight pants on Mad Men and what may or may not have been showing through. “Most of it’s tongue-in-cheek … But it is a little rude. It just speaks to a broader freedom that people feel like they have — a prurience. They’re called ‘privates’ for a reason,” he said of the articles. “Lay off.”
He also spoke of a Tumblr account exclusively dedicated to looking at photos of his crotch. “When people feel the freedom to create Tumblr accounts about my cock, I feel like that wasn’t part of the deal.“
And finally, Paul Mescal felt objectified after starring in Normal People, especially because of the number of intimate scenes his character was involved in — but said that doesn’t make it any easier.
“I daren’t read some of the intense DMs I receive. But it’s not enough to put me off the industry,” he continued.
What male stars do you feel have been objectified in Hollywood? Let us know in the comments below!