Why it's not okay to objectify Justin Trudeau

Why it's not okay to objectify Justin Trudeau
Canada's Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau.
PHOTO: Reuters

Canada's prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau has the looks of a movie star and a persona to go with it. That much we have established - he's going down in history as the 'PM who was pleasing on the eye', but enough already.

To be honest, the way social media was obsessing over the Canadian premier's hotness was a bit repulsive.

On Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr...all over, women were fawning over Prime Minister Trudeau's good looks, barely focusing on his journey and political prowess. Acknowledging his 'Adonis' face is fine, but middle-aged women suggesting a migration to Canada was rather over the top.

Any society that condemns men for objectifying women must set the same rules for women - isn't that the implication and cornerstone of civility and gender-equality?

But it was just some casual, good-natured fun, you say. Maybe it was. But it is never deemed as harmless when it happens to women.

Angelina Jolie, Amal Clooney, Huma Abedin, Sheryl Sandberg - all are highly accomplished, beautiful women. Imagine if a 'cool' gentleman decided to drool on the hotness of any of the three women on social media instead of their accomplishments. That would be a sure recipe of social suicide for that man.

Women following the cool gentleman would suddenly start attacking him for reducing women to an object. If he is popular enough, the issue would explore in the media. Bloggers from every corner of the world will pipe in, each with their own two cents of self-righteousness. The man's own wife would start getting migraines and will start sending her husband on guilt trips, pestering him to say why he didn't love her anymore and so on.

None of that is too exaggerated - it is how things usually unfold on the web every time a man is accused of misogyny.

Objectification is hedonistic when practiced by either gender. One could argue that since women are the oppressed gender - the ones who have been abused, exploited and objectified by men - it is the trend of reducing women to 'hotties' which should count as objectification in a genuine sense and not the casual/harmless compliments thrown at men.

I find this phenomenon to be little more than double standards plain and simple. Flourished by educated and self-respecting women, and at some level encouraged by men, it is as vulgar and unsophisticated as it is when indulged in by men objectifying women. How is it any different?

Women should realise that upholding double standards like these is what's responsible for tipping the power balance against them. When women objectify, it is insignificant according to themselves, and when men do the same, they see it as having an impact - they give away the power of being taken seriously by setting a different standard for themselves.

In other words, if women continue to objectify, so will men, presuming that women are alright with this phenomenon.

Undoubtedly, objectification as a concept is difficult to define. It is vague, relative and layered, and social objectifying is benign and plays a positive role in how we treat the opposite gender in a normally functioning society. Hence the argument that benign objectification should either be acceptable by both genders, or by neither.

Next time a woman objectifies Fawad Khan and wears it on her shoulder like a badge, she must be gracious when a gentleman in her realm praises Mahira Khan. Feminism works both ways, it's about equality, not lopsidedness - that's only fair.

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