The short-lived celebration of male objectification

Posted on August 21, 2011 by


Written by Cindi Loo

It started with a tweet, from our lovely Kirsten Han of course.

I clicked on that URL, and Lo and behold, it was like opening the caves that the Forty Thieves tried so hard to conceal, and I was Ali Baba. The gold, of course, were these delicious men of caramel skintone coupled with some sugar, chocolate and lemon meringues.

Yes, girls, sigh at the beauty that is the Men who works for Al Jazeera English, in front and behind the TV screens. The Men of AJE.

My personal top 3 favourites

The beauty of this Tumblr wasn’t just that it’s filled with eye candy, nope, but every post comes with a witty comment and almost perfect but non-clichéd description of said “hunk of the day”. According to  their official Twitter, the Tumblr owner is a woman that keeps everyone guessing if she was even from Al Jazeera English. It immediately became the talk of the AJE office and Twittersphere when it comes to who will be featured next, which really kept all the men on their toes all the time.

But what impressed me the most was the way the praise were showered, and in a funny, non-derogatory manner that just kept everyone’s dignity secured at most, and (in my case) in fits of giggles for a very long time. I mean, come on, you read about the prospects of Dior making about press jackets and you just WISH it was true!

To prove my point, I shared this on Facebook, and, to make it even fun, I tag only my Malaysian journalist female friends, just to see if the female kind who works in the same field approves the magnetic charm these people emit and felt as I have felt.

The last count was 44 comments on my Facebook page, possibly the most comments on it, ever, no thanks to all the contributions from the ladies. All filled with squeals, excitement and hormonal rush. I did not expect that an explosion of discussion erupted especially from our journalist folks who are usually a little more than discreet about their personal lifestyles. Links were shared, giggles enhanced, some dirty talks ensued, some convincing they can find local journalists who’s good looks can match these men of AJE, but it was mostly made out of good fun. It gave me a sense of belonging that maybe this share among us females who were largely educated, independent and very much single and available, works. That male objectification, as long as it’s done in respect to the men and not degrade them for the hard work they’ve done, perhaps this signifies a time when women can proudly display their worship of a man for his tenacity for a good project (or in a journalistic sense, a story), and the fact that we know that they are blessed with good looks does not hinder their work nor distract them from putting their most professional front when they’re working to present the latest news to our TV and computer screens.

That’s why I was devastated of course, when not too long after, the starter of this Tumblr, decided to stop posting anymore content on Men of AJE.

This paragraph from her final note to the public, I think, is a good summary of her reasons to close down this Tumblr after a very short but successful run:

In the process, however, I did something wrong: I did objectify these men. I used their rather handsome faces to get reactions, to socially experiment. I won’t lie and say the idea had no vain source because it did, but I won’t hide the fact that I was genuinely curious as to how such a blog would be received. But in doing so, I afforded the same levels of discomfort and objectification to these men that women so often undergo. And no matter what the reason, that’s never right – a strong principle and a strong ethic cannot be and should not be compromised. If it’s wrong to be done to women, it’s wrong to be done to men. Period.

So, for that I apologize to the Men of AJE. You’re freakishly goodlooking, but that doesn’t need to overshadow the work that you do, because it never will.

I can understand, and partially agree to her stance, but only partially. For one, by featuring both Derrick Ashong and Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, my attention was brought to AJE’s very new show, The Stream, where stories featured there are mostly content and news reported by the ordinary people who used Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, basically any social media that are brought to their attention and they will help broadcast the story. That’s a mega promotion for their show to me, but I agree with her because other than that exception, I’ve only resort to admiring them by their face and reading up on what they do briefly, and do not actually do any follow-up to any of them after clicking on that post for the hundredth time just to see their beautiful face.

It’s sad to see this little Internet escapade, and with it, its trend of male objectification, vanished. But it was all in good fun. Everyone are still talking about it whenever they can because maybe, for that one glimpse of hope, this restored a little of Journalism’s dignity and make it sexy again. Maybe not everyone see them as hunks, but, I think these men need not worry, because there’s always that niche media market ready to bask in their handsome glow.

Now all is left is that small gap in my heart that needs filling, perhaps another kind of Internet eye candy, something endearing, warm, just makes me smile:

That didn't take long. Credits to MisDeeds


Posted in: Malaysia, The Random!