Getty's 'Sexiest Fans' Gallery: Is the Outrage Justified?

Getty's 'Sexiest Fans' Gallery: Is the Outrage Justified?

You may have read an article about how Getty removed their "sexiest fans" gallery due to receiving backlash from social media. What's interesting is Vogue Magazine posted a similar type of article about men, which didn't seem to receive much in terms of outrage. Is it more offensive to objectify women than it is to objectify men? 

The whole article from Vogue discusses football players and describes them as "Reasons to Watch the 2018 World Cup." From talking about one player's lips and smile to another player's abs, this article clearly objectifies men in a manner that would be completely unacceptable if they were women. The primary difference is the reaction this piece has received versus the reaction Getty received for doing something similar. The reaction Getty received forced them to completely remove the gallery and offer an apology. As of writing this article, however, Vogue's article is still live and the reaction from social media has been relatively benign. 

Personally, I do not believe the article from Vogue causes any offense, nor do I think it requires any outrage, so why do many of us consider the Getty gallery to be offensive? If society considers anything negative against women to be more significant, is that in itself a form of sexism? Some could assume that men simply don't care as much as women when it comes to these issues and that people are becoming overly prone to outrage. You may be led to believe this if you read some of the comments. The majority of the comments on the Fstoppers article about the Getty gallery are from men expressing their unhappiness in regards to the outrage. Effectively, men are outraged about women being outraged about something. The discussions tend to focus on how people are just looking for things to be outraged about and how this infringes freedom of speech. Whether or not this affects freedom of speech could be debatable; in any case, we are seeing more frustration against "political correctness." We also see more and more companies developing themselves to be seen as forward-thinking and modern when it comes to how women are presented, yet, we don't see much of that happening for men. 

There are many that assume issues relating to men aren't taken as seriously by society in general. Maybe men's issues don't matter as much and we're simply expendable to some extent, which is horrible to say the least. The saying "women and children first" comes to mind. An article from The Guardian discusses this specifically, and in practice, there have been situations that suggest this is not as relevant or true. There are no actual laws that dictate this either; even still, the sentiment seems to remain. 

I think it's important to consider context too. For the longest time, women haven't had many of the rights that men have benefited from. Although in Europe, two of the more prominent countries (U.K and Germany) do have female heads of state. Is this enough? Could it be that strong reactions are required when female rights are infringed or if something is damaging the perception of women in order to bring some balance and equality? The outrage we see now could be due to the many numbers of years where women didn't have rights and it's strong reactions that have helped push the progress. Maybe the reason companies like Getty are actively trying to be seen as modern and forward-thinking is that they have deep-rooted issues that need to be shaken off. Progress can be slow, but fortunately, we've seen it happen and we can help it continue. 

Personally, I don't think either company did anything majorly wrong with either the galleries or the articles, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm right. I don't assume to know the answer; I can only describe my own thoughts and ask questions that I feel are relevant. Ultimately, there're two facts I'm certain we can agree on: people find people attractive and attraction is fundamental to how we operate. Just because a particular article or gallery shows individuals of a certain gender as being attractive does not mean all of their other characteristics are negated. In some sense, this reminds me of the fundamental attribution error. Having said that, It's important to remember how a single image can be extremely impactful. Photographs have the potential to drastically change the political landscape for better or worse. Images can become symbols with incredible meaning. Maybe we need to be more conscious of how an image or a gallery is portrayed and what message it sends. Once again, context is important, and in the current climate, with many women trying to develop and improve perceptions, maybe the pendulum does need to swing a little farther to one side before we see some proper equality. 

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JetCity Ninja's picture

but are men really all that powerful when looking at the grand scheme of things? rape is the exception, not the norm. try approaching a woman that's "out of your league" and see if you get a date. we live in a time where complimenting a woman physically is ok if you're Brad Pitt but not ok if you're a greaseball living with your mother at 25. in fact, the latter could get you thrown in jail, publicly shamed or both, for sexual harassment.

in some ways, the balance of power has shifted far beyond the middle, while in others it has hardly changed. socially, the shift has gone in feminists' favor yet institutionally, the pendulum has mostly remained stuck. in the real, logical world, neither is right.

Rob Davis's picture

Over the spectrum of society, yes. It's not that a woman can never be more powerful than a man, it's just that usually they are not, by far. It's not even close.

Beauty and sexuality are powerful in very limited ways. Much like a hamburger is powerful. I would do almost anything for a burger right now, but that's because I'm hungry not because I have so much respect for cows. I appreciate cows in that they satisfy my needs, but not for their own good. I don't respect cows so much I'm willing to take down fences and let them live their lives however they want.

And now that society has changed it's views somewhat that if I go up to a cow and start abusing it I could get arrested for animal abuse and have my life ruined -- but that still doesn't make the cow powerful.

P.S. Women are not cows. I'm simply using cows symbolically to represent exploitation. :)

user-156929's picture

Excellent analogy. I don't entirely agree with your conclusion but we have to leave something for tomorrow. ;-)

Michael Deaton's picture

Unreal. Everything is "offensive" to someone these days, and it only takes one single whiney voice among millions to ruin the fun for everyone else.

David Cannon's picture

If we believe it’s more offensive to objectify women than it is to objectify men, isn’t that inherently sexist?

Usman Dawood's picture

I would say so, but then I also think most things depend on context.

Santiago Borthwick's picture

It's not that people believe it's "more" offensive, it's that objectifying women has led to an abusive culture, where harassment and violence is very real. Most of my female friends have experienced some kind of harassment or abuse.. and they live in pretty "advanced" societies.. i as a male have never experienced any abuse that has it's roots in objectification.. not saying it can't happen, but statistically, for the vast majority of people it doesn't...while most women have at some point lived an abusive situation.
In that context, objectification is wrong period, but for women it has more pernicious and violent consequences, and that is the basis for a greater outcry and a harsher stance against it.
A lot of males fail to see this because they live in a bubble, a place of privilege where that fear doesn't exist, where most men will never live something like that, and in wich most men will have reasons to be able to believe that facing it they would fight or they would react. It's a very different experience for women.
It's interesting to see that when it does happen to men, the reaction is a lot of the times the same: shock, shame, anguish and hardship... read about Terry Crew's experience, and how so many assholes have mocked him, or displayed vain stupid preconceptions wrapped around a toxic virility ideal. The thing is that Terry's case is a drop in the ocean compared to what women as a collective suffer in a daily basis.

Claire Whitehead's picture

Its more complicated because of the very objectification and the obvious differences in how men and women are sexualised.

Sexualisation and objectification are not the same.
When men are sexualised it is often in a very active way, their power and agency is not diminished.
A 'Sexy' man is not shown to be passive, weak, and submissive in the way a woman is.

A few more articles like this and I'm going to F off your website. American men are going to look at pictures of beautiful women whether anyone likes it or not. If this damages women in some way you are unable to express, I don't care. Only those who've been poisoned by feminism like you, Usman, imagine that American women and their lackey running dog male allies should tell us what we view, how we think about women or anything else. I've lived in three countries since the hormones kicked in and American women are in a distant third place for grace, wit and intellect. They are not morally or spiritually qualified to tell me what to do and they're not going to. I don't respect poorly reasoned, fuzzy-headed notions of the advancement of the American woman. These tend to be based on restrictions to how I behave and think and are inherently fascist. If I'm the problem - good. I don't respect your views and I don't need the positive regard of anyone who believes as you do.

Usman Dawood's picture

Did you read the article at all, if you have I highly doubt you've understood any of what I wrote?

Stop projecting and making extremely wild assumptions and nonsense accusations, actually read the article properly and then maybe we can talk.

Michael Holst's picture

Why even try? His rant is filled with "poorly reasoned, fuzzy-headed notions". Let him walk away... If he isn't willing to read anything and react to what he assume is the context then he's not going to add anything of value.

Mike Kelley's picture

Good lord, those vogue editors did not do very good research if that's all they could come up with!

Crystal Johnson's picture

I would say, from a female's perspective(which I seem to be the only one at the time I post this) that does get cat called and has been harassed by men, that it is something we still have to face on a DAILY basis. It's unwanted and unneeded commentary from men, or interaction that has nothing to do with the situation we're in. Granted, not all men are doing these things, but it IS still very prevalent today.

There's a big difference between the article that is more centered about the footballer, their personal/professional lives,and that of a gallery that was of women who could not give consent to be photographed, that it's sole purpose is to arouse the male viewer by objectifying the woman and her body. The footballers are working professionals up for discussion, and looking over that article there wasn't but 2 or 3 mentions of physical appearance. The rest, again, was about them in general and why you should cheer for them. So, it's really not a comparative situation, and more grasping at straws. Now, if Vogue had done shots of these guys crotch area, and talked about it, then there might be a comparison.

The Getty gallery was centered on women showing cleavage, semi-upskirts, short shorts/skirts and tight fitting clothes. The Vogue article, again, shows NONE of the sort. The women were objectified regardless of what they were wearing, or how they looked. It was uncalled for to shoot them without consent, and put it in a 'sexiest fan' gallery.

Women have often been seen as nothing more than pretty placeholders at sports events, and that we're not really in to the game, but going there for our partners. It's just not true, and women (maybe not all) do like sports. This applies to every single athletic event where a woman might go, and if the woman enjoys it she MUST be pitching for her own 'team'(something I was told by a man when I mentioned I liked baseball) . So we're either really pretty , and just there as the man's arm candy, or we're lesbians. It's frustrating.

Usman Dawood's picture

I agree with some of your points but there a few things I think are debatable. For one the footballers and fans are both people doesn’t matter if they’re working at the time or not. A person is still a person.

Also personal responsibility and personal choices are important things to consider. Why is Rhonda Rousey not just a placeholder and instead is one of the highest paid fighters in the UFC? Effectively I think individual identity is far far more valuable and important than group identity.

There are of course problems that need to be resolved so I’m not trying to suggest women don’t face issues because that’s not true. Instead I would say that generally the narrative is framed as men not having any real problems and things are fine and only women suffer. Both genders have their respective problems and I think if we worked together instead of dividing ourselves we could get much more done.

In any case I’m very glad you commented, thank you.

Crystal Johnson's picture

I think you misunderstand what I meant by bringing up that they're working professionals. Yes, they are people, however, their job opens them up for criticism, and commentary the same way any actor or actress is. It's not an invasion of personal space or privacy when the celebrity is in a public situation. With that said, normal or non-celebrity folks like their privacy even in public space. So, yes there is a difference.

You're bringing up an example of an ATHLETE not a female in the audience. If we want to talk about RR, and the very huge double standard of sexism in the athletic world we can. Because RR has been objectified where as her male counterparts have not.

Men do face sexual harassment, judgement and all sorts of bad things. More from their peers than females. I stand for men just as much as women in personal rights. But in this situation it was about women being objectified by Getty, and a huge reach by you with a Vogue article that is not even comparative.

It's hard to come together and change the world when sexism and harassment is still prevalent. It's hard to change the world when young girls and women are being kidnapped, and sold into sex slavery for rich men. It's hard to change the world when young girls and women are forced to have FGM, have their clitoris removed, their labia sewn shit and subjected to subservient roles by their husbands because they are seen as less than their male counterpart. Or fear abuse, dismemberment or worse because they are women.

We could go back and forth on this subject, but it would be a fruitless endeavor.

Usman Dawood's picture

I’d say the major problem with how you’re discussing this is by framing this as men vs women.

It’s not men who are kidnapping young girls it’s horrific individuals that are criminals and need to be brought to justice.

In the same way it’s not fair for me to blame women for some of the major life changing negative things that have happened to me by some people. I hold the individuals responsible and not say that this is a problem for women. Essentially men and women don’t exist in vacuums everything is interlinked and related.

Also criticising someone for their work is very different from objectifying them. Once again I don’t think vogue did anything wrong with their article I’m just drawing parallels and posing questions. Lastly why is it a huge reach for me to point out what vogue did?

Santiago Borthwick's picture

Well, as she explained, the differences in depth of the articles, the fact that the footballers article came with more context, with explanations, carrer and bios, makes it of a different ilk than just a gallery made of strangers who didn't consent to their pics being taken, posted and aggregated in a sexiest gallery, with no context, and displaying them as mere objects for male's arousal..
It's not comparable, the extent to wich we objectify women and it's consequences both are not comparable to the male objectification you are pointing at for the basis of your article (which i found interesting still, more so since it sparks a necessary discussion).

John Skinner's picture

Not doubting your feelings on this, with the REAL exception of.

The very minute men stopped paying attention to you in some tangible way, you'd be out with friends telling them how you've lost all of your appeal. There are reasons (real reasons) you don't go out shopping to find the item you'll look your absolute worst when wearing it. That's REAL. Truth be told. You want to be attractive to people that see you. And unfortunately you can't pick & choose who that will be, or, their exact response to how you place yourself out there. it's a very big world and trying to get a gender to fit inside a box you perceive as being correct -- is just wrong.

People have to stop trying to redefine MAN & WOMAN. It's genetic and baked in. All the complaining in the world will do nothing but stifle the other group.

Crystal Johnson's picture

You're assuming that I want the attention. I don't. I am married and the only male gaze I want is from my HUSBAND, and not some male that has the balls to cat call me when I'm shopping at the grocery store.

Furthermore, I wear things that appeal to ME, not for other people. I'm what you'd call a 'geeky gamer' girl, that wears graphic tees and black jeans. So please tell me again how I am going out there trying to make myself look good for men, even my husband, when it's all about me.

So, you're suggesting that men are just primates hell bent on spreading their seed and women should just welcome it? Because it's 'genetic' and should be expected that cat calls, or sexual commentary are just going to happen, right?

You're the last of a dying breed my friend, and gender roles are not something in the here and now.Your generation's women pushed for change, mine is driving it all the way home.

John Skinner's picture

Just because you CAN make things an issue. Doesn't mean they should be made into an issue.

(snowflakes) It's getting very old.. very fast.

Santiago Borthwick's picture

It's fun how people offended by discussions, and by people trying to assert their rights and a change in values that will bring forth a more tolerant, safe and open society are the first ones to say cuck, snowflake, etc...
Look at you whinning about women speaking up against the roots of widespread abuse, you the snowflake whose sensitivities were triggered XD.

Guilherme Checchia's picture

People want the same rights as everyone's else, but want to be treated differently...

Bored people navel gazing and chasing their own tails is unfortunately what much of social media has devolved into... Outrage is how these people achieve their daily dopamine hit. They're addicted.

Both men and women like looking at attractive people and that's never going to change.

So, someone is offended by the Getty Gallery thus, it must not be viewed by anyone. Since someone is offended by almost everything we really should view/read nothing. Now, back to my safe place.

Studio 403's picture

Aa Bob Dylan said, “The times they are changing”. For me regrettable. It appears everyone is getting offended these days. All this “privileged” hype. When I ask my Creator about being white, He said it was His choice, not mine.

michael buehrle's picture

i'm outraged that my picture is not there.

Celso Mollo's picture

Next time, when getting a model release, ask the model what they do for a living and their biggest accomplishments, than when they post a photo in a article about beautiful women with beautiful bodies, they can write: "She is not only hot but also an accomplished rocket scientist"

I think that if you allow yourself to be objectified, whether male or female, it says something about your own self-respect, period. It also says plenty about those who are objectifying you, of course, and neither should be more or less to blame. Everybody should be standing up to it and saying, at the very least, "okay, that's a bit too much of the 'sex sells" trope..."

I think the bigger problem is simply that overall, society is allowing advertising to continue taking this cheap-shot route to selling products or services. Television is absolutely full of objectification; you literally can't turn on a TV without seeing excessive cleavage, skin-tight everything, etc.

Unfortunately, probably the most disheartening thing is that even as we switch away from large corporations' advertising campaigns, into the world of Youtube stars and Instagram "influencers", ...individuals are collectively objectifying themselves, just as much or even moreso than the ad campaigns of large companies were. Go figure.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to live in a world where public nudity is totally normal and not a distraction from our everyday lives. But I just don't think we're ready for that.

And yes, the objectification of women is usually a much more weighty matter than that of men. Because when it happens to men, it's almost always in a harmless, "ha ha, he's so handsome, wow!" kind of way, whereas when it comes to women being objectified, well, you don't want to know what the men are thinking, let's just leave it at that.

Claire Whitehead's picture

there is also the context that the footballers being photographed by vogue are very famous, wealthy men. Many of whom openly embrace a status as a sex symbol, and know they are being photographed.

The women in the audience are normal people there to see a football match, being singled out. Its strange to know people at Getty started going through hundreds of photos of female spectators to find the "hottest".

I've had my face show up in the media thanks to Getty Photographers. It can be a very strange experience, not always very comfortable.

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