The Mirrored Male Gaze or Is Jon Hamm A Slut?

“Men act and women appear” said British art historian John Berger, long after Renaissance painting had implicitly documented the phenomenon. “Men look at women, and women watch themselves being looked at.” And while there has been much inversion or mirroring of the male gaze that follows a woman (or a female gender performance), it is only in the past 30 years or so that the scales have begun to tip, ever so slightly, to rest permanently askew.

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From hair metal dudes of the 1980’s donning fashionable appropriations of a feminine aesthetic to put themselves on display and sell their sex, drugs, and feminine vocal timbres, to the Mark Wahlberg Calvin Klein ads to the Ryan Gosling memes of today, the lens of the media has subtly shifted to allow the male gaze to reflect back onto men. Some say this is the zenith of female empowerment and women are now able to embody the subject position and permanently objectify men, while others posit that with the intermixing of gay and straight culture there is just more of the male gaze from men directed at men. And still others say that the gaze of the media, is, big brother style, irrevocably turned on us all. Whatever it is, there is money to be made within the gaze’s crossbeams, whether in advertising, the arts, or in politics, both for the gazer and the gazee. Nevertheless, many find this relatively recent inversion a little hard to handle.

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Actor Jon Hamm is a high profile addition to the abovementioned cadre of men invoking (inviting?) the inverted male gaze, inspiring multiple headlines in gossip rags like this and this and even a Tumblr dedicated expressly to his junk. He recently complained to Rolling Stone, “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…They’re called ‘privates’ for a reason,” he says. “I’m wearing pants, for fuck’s sake. Lay off. I mean, it’s not like I’m a fucking lead miner. There are harder jobs in the world. But when people feel the freedom to create Tumblr accounts about my cock, I feel like that wasn’t part of the deal…”

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And thus Jon Hamm echoes the anguished pleas of women (both celebrities and the average gal on the street) over the centuries. While he has every right to join the chorus of complaints, and deserves respect for his body and how he chooses to show it (or not show it) off, one can’t help but see the irony. A recent piece on Thought Catalog keeps its tongue firmly in check and critiques Hamm for straight up “asking for it.” If he didn’t want people taking his picture, why did he just stand there and let it happen? If he hadn’t wanted it, he should have done something to stop it. He could have called the police. He could have fought back with physical force. But he didn’t. So, obviously, Jon Hamm wanted the attention and was happy he got it. Otherwise, he wouldn’t traipse around Los Angeles like a trollop.

What a slut.

 

One thought on “The Mirrored Male Gaze or Is Jon Hamm A Slut?

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