Well, here we are again. GQ has once again skyrocketed to the top of my “Sexism Shit List,” this time with the spread titled, “Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs Did This Lesbian Scene for Us.”
Why you gotta be like this, GQ? You’re a men’s lifestyle and fashion magazine! I don’t get it. Because frankly, yet again, this photo is offensive. And not everyone understands why.
It’s not Alison Brie or Gillian Jacobs. It’s not, “It’s such a shame to see young actresses whoring themselves out for publicity these days.” That’s rude, and slut-shaming, and it frustrates me to see people understand that this spread is not right but are left of center on why. This is not Alison Brie’s or Gillian Jacobs’ issue. This is a societal issue. This is a gender issue. This is a sexuality issue. This is a race issue.
The problem with this takes us right back to the male gaze. Let me ask you: how many men do you see in this photo? Zero, right? Wrong. The answer is one. There is one man in the photo and he is the one who is looking at it. Thanks, GQ, for reminding us that the male gaze is alive and well!
There should be no man in this photo. But this photo was designed by men, shot by a man, and published for men. The women in this photo are not subjects; they are objects. They are fetishized and presented simply as a girl-on-girl scenario.
Which leads me to another complaint: the title clearly says that this is “going lesbian.” Um, GQ, this is not “going lesbian.” This is going “girl-on-girl for the sake of a dude,” which, frankly, is only ever designed by dudes. “For us!” It’s right there in the title! This is for dudes! But girls don’t “go lesbian” for dudes. Girls “go lesbian” for, well, women, and marginalizing the validity of that by turning it into a sexualized and objectified peep show is just disrespectful.
Gentlemen of the world: we ladies are not here for you. This may be tough to hear, but we are not here to be objects to your subject, or accessories in your fantasies about lesbians or dominatrices or schoolgirls. It would be helpful if the media would take note of this and stop perpetuating the male gaze in its creative endeavors.
Because, again, everything is a choice. This photoshoot was a choice, and those choices reflect the fact that the objectification of women is still defended as a “style” in creative media. Sexism is not a style. Sexism is ingrained into almost every societal construct and its pursuits - the media especially - and it needs to be removed.
And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that there are three female cast members on Community: Gillian Jacobs, Alison Brie, and Yvette Nicole Brown. So what, did Yvette Nicole Brown’s invitation to this photoshoot just get lost in the mail, or do I really have to wonder about this nasty little suggestion that America is unable to find anything other than white and/or thin sexy?
The worst thing in all of this is the idea that it somehow relates back to comedy. If Yvette Nicole Brown were included, would this photoshoot therefore become more ironically comedic, as though she couldn’t possibly be sexualized in a non-funny way? With Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs, it’s clear that “sexiness” is trumping “funniness,” but if you include their size-larger-than-4, African-American castmate, does that therefore change the tone of the shoot? Oh, the fact that these questions are both disgusting and yet valid is not okay. This is just further indication that the media’s perception of beauty and the female form is screwed up beyond the telling of it - and it’s because the standard being set ties inextricably back to the male’s perspective: the male gaze.
It’s unfortunate. I wish GQ wouldn’t publish photos like this, and I wish there weren’t an audience for them, because clearly, they wouldn’t be published if they weren’t popular. At some point, the misrepresentations of gender, race, and sexuality have to be righted, and GQ - and the media in general - has enough power to start those changes. It’s all in the power of choice. But right now, they’re making the wrong choices.
Author’s Note: I’m also annoyed that the article missed a semi-colon. But that’s not the important thing to focus on here.
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