Is Kit Harrington Right?

In the article Kit Harington Has A Point About Women Objectifying Men, writer Eliana Dockterman describes how the actor is “sick of being called a hunk”, and when members of the media asks him how he feels about being described that way, he generally says, “That’s not what I got into it for.”

The guy’s an actor, and he’d prefer to be asked about, well, his acting.

Ms. Dockterman cites other examples of actors who are constantly being asked how they feel about their “heartthrob” status. Actors like Benedict Cumberbatch whose legion of fans refer to themselves as Cumberbitches.  And John Hamm, for whom there are whole Tumblr blogs dedicated to the bulge in his pants.

I’ll take M. Dockterman’s word for that one. I haven’t looked. No, seriously. Mr. Hamm can get pretty harsh when he’s asked about those blogs, and I can’t really blame him.

While Ms. Dockterman makes it very clear that women are subject to the same kind of “you’re famous because people want to have sex with you” crap, part of me wants to greet Mr. Harington’s complaint with a big ol’ BOOHOO.

Is touching a standard part of the interview process?


In protesting treatment that focuses on his looks, it seems to me Mr. Harrington is complaining all the way to the bank.

Objectification is part of the Hollywood game, and women have been played since the beginning. The news that 37-year-old actress Maggie Guyllenhal was told she’s “too old” to play the love interest for a 55-year-old actor demonstrates how endemic the cult of youth and beauty is. Women are held to a different standard than men, and most of the time it seems that the sum total of their contribution is tied up in their appearance.

BCumberbatch might get asked how he feels to be a sex symbol, but only after reporters ask him  about his work. And pretty much only fashion bloggers care who made his suit.

Name an actress who is accorded the same level of respect. There aren’t many.

“And though it’s tempting to even the scales by caring as little about men’s feelings as misogynists care about women’s feelings, that attitude doesn’t help to stop misogyny or advance feminism.” E. Dockterman

The thing is, this level of objectification isn’t limited to actors and actresses. When I look at my on-line presence objectively – true confession here – most of my social media sights would fall under the category ‘NSFW’. (I blogged about it HERE a couple weeks ago.)  Maybe it’s an occupational hazard of being a romance writer, but my Facebook and Pinterest streams, in particular, are pretty much full of lovely masculine images.

Lovely, mostly naked, masculine images.

And some of them forget the mostly.

Which begs the question: After years of feminist bitching about the way men ogle young women, why is it right or fair to objectify young men?

And that’s where the guilt comes in. (Eldest child of an Irish-Catholic family, right? I can find guilt just about anywhere.) I do like to look, although it does bother me, and I try hard not to forget there’s a person attached to those abs. I don’t see following photographer Michael Stokes as some kind of feminist victory. He makes pretty pictures, and I like to look at them.

What’s wrong with that?

Does the power differential between men and women make a difference? Does the ubiquitous standard of youth and beauty applied to women matter? Is it somehow more wrong to objectify women, because so much of who they are is limited to how they look?

Yeah, I don’t know, either, but I expect M. Dockterman is right when she says we shouldn’t be dragging each other down to the same level, but rather lifting each other up.

So I’ll concede Mr. Harrington his point. He’s a serious actor practicing his craft, and we do him a disservice by focusing primarily on his appearance, regardless of how distractingly handsome he may be.

What do you think? Are beefcake photos as popular as cat pix in your Facebook stream? Can we really separate any performer’s appearance from their craft?


Honestly, if I met this guy in RL, basic functions – like speech – would desert me.


16 thoughts on “Is Kit Harrington Right?

  1. When I hear male actors complain about this stuff I tend to give a big shrug of my shoulders too. But I also like to think that maybe, somewhere and somehow, comments like these by a male actor might make other males on our planet think a little about how they look at females in the entertainment industry and why they treat them the way they do.

    1. livrancourt says:

      Sort of a “if it could happen to him it could happen to me and maybe it shouldn’t happen to anybody” thing? Be nice if it worked that way. We can hope…

  2. Welcome to the real world, dude. Sadly, women have had it that way for a long time and even now, once they are over a certain age, it’s hard to get parts no matter how good they are. AND don’t get me started on the unrealistic body images and how these women are so skinny. It’s not healthy. Jillian

    1. livrancourt says:

      While I bet Mr. Harrington is under a fair amount of pressure to maintain a certain body weight, he’s never going to have to deal with the age thing the way a woman would. He’s never going to be too old to play a romantic lead or star in an action film. Check out this Popsugar list of the biggest age differences in the movies. The average age of the men is over 50, while none of the women are over 25…

  3. Kit Harrington is one of the best-looking actors I’ve seen in a long time. I don’t think objectification of anyone is OK, but I understand why women swoon over him. I’m glad he’s bringing this issue to the attention of men. Perhaps it’ll add a new dimension to the tired dialogue about objectification of women.

    1. livrancourt says:

      I think you’ve articulated part of what I’d hope this post would do, Gabi. When a man has a poster of a girl in a bikini in his workspace, I get a knee-jerk-feminist BAD response. So why is it okay if there are similar images of young men in my Facebook stream. We need to take the dialogue in a different direction, maybe examine why people of all genders are posing and why they’re looking.

      And while that’s going on, I’ll be over here swooning…thanks…

  4. You know, I was just looking at cat pictures before reading this post. No, really! It was totally cute – 20 cat thoughts.


    You know what would really be nice? If the media just stopped asking those questions all together. But that would require society at large to let go of their more shallow leanings, which will never happen. In the meantime, maybe Kit Harrington can bite me. Or suggest the reporter stop asking those questions of any famous person they interview.

    And yes, I often do separate craft from pretty faces – it’s why there’s no amount of alcohol in the world that will get me to watch the 50 shades movie 🙂

    1. livrancourt says:

      I can’t figure out why they cast Dakota Johnson (winner of the KStew award for Ordinary Actresses) & whoever that young man was….
      Did I just invalidate my whole post by dishing on their appearance? Seriously, though, IF Kit Harrington came up with some standard, funny-putdown, “why don’t you ask me a real question” kind of response, he’d probably avoid a lot of the stuff that makes him unhappy. And he’s a guy, so he’s got the power to do that.
      And if he ever bites you, I want to know details. Every. Detail.

  5. Great post, Liv! Women have been objectified since the beginning of time, so is it fair that we turn around and behave in the way we complain about? Probably not, but I don’t think we completely objectify men the way they (not all men) do to women. I love Michael Stokes Photography and his gorgeous pictures of men – BUT, while I think they are super sexy, I also think they are human beings with feelings because he takes so many pictures of wounded warriors. I feel he’s trying to make them feel sexy again, which they may not now that one or more body parts have been taken away. (He also does females, I should add) and who, especially at a young age, doesn’t want to be feel sexy and attractive to the opposite (or same) sex?

    Women have always enjoyed looking at men, but it wasn’t socially accepted until recent years. They’d be labeled, slut, whore, fast, easy, etc., if anyone thought you even glanced at a man that wasn’t your husband. It was worse centuries ago.

    So now we have opportunities to enjoy the male physique – so why not? Men in Hollywood, while may be under pressure to keep within a certain body weight, will never be propositioned to get a part, told they are too old or too heavy or get cat called. It’s still easier for them and I think it will stay that way for the considerable future. So let’s enjoy what we can 🙂

    1. livrancourt says:

      Funny…there are so many terms that describe women who like men, and are any of them positive? Even relatively benign terms, like broad or dame or cougar, have negative connotations. I wonder if we’ll really be able to move past the limits we place on women until we have the language to describe what we want to be.

      Meanwhile, I do like me some pretty pretty pictures…

      1. Terri-Lynne DeFino says:

        Think about theses words:
        Governor vs governess
        Mister vs mistress
        Dominator vs dominatrix
        I could go on, but you see the difference? Same word. Totally different connotations.

      2. livrancourt says:

        I’m pretty sure there’s a PhD thesis in there somewhere, Terri-Lynne. You’re absolutely right. How do we change the language, to come up with words that don’t have that kind of baggage?

  6. Terri-Lynne DeFino says:

    True story. My youngest son is ridiculously good looking. One evening, we were all out as a family and a group of drunken a**holes called him over. They wanted to hire him to strip for them. They cat called and coaxed him, in front of his entire family, promising him huge amounts if money to see him naked. It was repulsive. And yet, people at other tables found it amusing. They would not have, had it been one of my daughters. I nearly jumped over the barricade but kept my temper.
    Beauty is beauty and there’s nothing wrong with appreciating it. Ogling is not appreciating.

    1. livrancourt says:

      That’s kind of appalling, Terri-Lynne. They propositioned him like that in front of his parents? I can’t even…
      There’s a difference between admiring someone – giving them the power of your appreciation – and using or demeaning someone, because then you’re taking their power away. Sounds like you’re raising your son to know the difference. Thanks for checking in!

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