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Morris Chestnut Reminds Us That Men Aren't Cool With Being Objectified
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Morris Chestnut Reminds Us That Men Aren't Cool With Being Objectified

Fact: Plenty of women have voiced their concerns about being objectified by men.


But what happens when the tables are turned.

Some women, including feminists, actually approve of women turning the tables on men, and objectifying them for their own gratification. Elite Daily writer, Alexia LaFata said in a 2015 article, women objectifying men isn't the same when the tables are turned. She wrote,

...Until you live in a world in which your objectification leads to excessive victim-blaming, unwelcome catcalling, mortifyingly high rates of sexual assault and rape and having your value in society based exclusively on what you look like, I will continue to exercise my God-given right to objectify you.Because the objectification of women leads to all of those things. The objectification of men does not. And that’s why it’s okay to do it.

Even though a woman's objectification of a man isn't the same in reverse, does that make it okay for women to do? The answer is no. Sexual objectivity can easily lead to sexual misconduct or rape, and just like this is a problem for women, it can also be a problem for men.

Actor Morris Chestnut, star of the Fox drama Rosewood, who has been shirtless many times on film, understood this part of the objectivity discussion. But he also understood that when it comes to himself being shirtless on his own show, that objectivity could have meant that his show would possibly fail before viewers gave it a chance.

This week, he sat down with DJ Envy and Charlemagne on The Breakfast Club to talk about Rosewood. During the conversation, he started discussing how he asked the show's writers for less shirtless scenes. Morris said that he did that because he wanted audiences to know the characters before their bodies.

I didn’t want it to be just about me taking my shirt off every week. I didn’t think that we could really survive and have the long term longevity just about being shirtless, or people turn on the show to see people naked. I wanted them to get involved and really start learning the characters. My character, the other characters on the show... Charlemagne: Are you saying that you didn’t want to be sexually objectified? You wanted to be known for more than just your body?
That’s part of everything. That’s part of the show...My female lead, she’s in a bikini, that’s one of the aspects of the show that people may turn to watch. But I didn't want it to be just about that. Literally, every time I opened up the script, the first four episodes was, “Okay, here’s the shirt off, here's a shirt off," and I didn't want it to be like clockwork. ...Show comes on at 8:00, okay 8:15, shirt off. I didn't want it to be like that.

Morris went on to say that he's even asked writers to add in more bikini scenes for his Rosewood co-star, Jaina Lee Ortiz, so that guys can tune in and enjoy the show too.

I said, 'Look, we have to write more bikini scenes for Jaina,' my female co-star, because I want dudes to watch the show too. I don't want dudes not to watch the show with their wives because I'm taking my shirt off every week.

Morris asking Rosewood's writers to take out some of his shirtless scenes was probably not that big of a deal for some television watchers, but it's a problem for men on the receiving end of the objectivity, especially entertainers.

In the documentary, The Disintegration of D'Angelo, Quest Love revealed that the reaction by female fans to D'Angelo's "Untitled (How Does It Feel)"video almost ruined the singer, and is part of the reason he went into hiding for over 10 years.

D'Angelo felt tortured, Questlove says, by the pressure to give the audience what it wanted. Worried that he didn't look as cut as he did in the video, he'd delay shows to do stomach crunches. He'd often give in, peeling off his shirt, but he resented being reduced to that. Wasn't he an artist? Couldn't the audience hear the power of his music and value him for that?..."One time I got mad when a female threw money at me onstage, and that made me feel fucked-up, and I threw the money back at her," [D'Angelo] says. "I was like, 'I'm not a stripper.' "

The video, which featured the singer naked from the hip bones upward, left many music video watchers feeling sexually frustrated.

But they weren't nearly as frustrated as D'Angelo, who said that the pressure to stay looking as cut as he was in the video, was too much for him. He revealed in an interview with Tavis Smiley:

It would bother me a lot of times live when we were touring for ‘Voodoo’ and I had this amazing band, the Soultronics. Questlove was the drummer, [bassist] Pino [Palladino], of course I had the incomparable Roy Hargrove on trumpet, Frank Lacy on trombone. Just this outstanding band, and we were doing some amazing stuff musically. And a lot of times the crowd — or a lot of the ladies were just screaming, ‘Take it off!’ And I kind of felt like, for lack of a better thing, a male stripper, you know? Or I [was] expected to be that, you know what I mean?”

As good as some men are to look at, the fact remains that some men don't want women to treat them like objects, cat call them, or grope them. Just like men don't have permission to violate women, women don't hold special "objectivity" privileges either.

If we ever want to live in a world of equality, we need to keep this in mind before we go throwing dollars or touching on a man's junk without his permission.

Check out Morris' full Breakfast Club interview below, where he talks about asking for fewer shirtless scenes at the 18:39 mark.

 

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