What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, or so the saying goes. Perhaps this was the thinking behind the website, Tube Crush, which has come under criticism for objectifying men. The website is the brainchild of a man, Steve Motion, and encourages women and gay men to post surreptitiously taken photographs of the lesser-spotted handsome male when scouted on the tube. Men have been doing this kind of thing to women for years, so some might argue such websites demonstrate that things are becoming more equal. Personally, I’ve never thought that aping the baser aspects of male behaviour is a sign of progress. Shall we also take up football hooliganism and start pointless wars?
The Facebook group Women who Eat on Tubes was loudly decried for being misogynistic and was eventually taken down. In contrast, the men featured on Tube Crush seem to regard it as a badge of male honour, and apparently most of them aren’t complaining. The website aims to “celebrate the attractiveness” of any subject whose picture they publish, and will remove the image of anybody who requests it, which is all very reasonable. Negative comments are not allowed, so none of the vile, insulting slurs so frequently directed at women online appear. Instead, we find comments such as, “We also love the fact that his blue sock is on full display…we feel he may have matching underwear, but guess we will never know!” How sweet. How harmless. Nothing about smashing anybody’s backdoors in and making sure they can’t walk for a week.
So what are the creators trying to prove with Tube crush? That women admire physical attractiveness too? Surely that’s a given? How would we feel if it was the other way around and men were taking secret pictures of us, even if they were concluding that we were “fit”? If it’s pervy (although legal) for men to take secret pictures of a woman, yet somehow more acceptable for women to do the same to a man, then all the animals in the garden cannot be equal.
With the rise of social media, many have argued that we are becoming more narcissistic as a society, as well as more “lookist”, judging both men and women on their physical attributes. But increasing the amount of “lookism” in the world doesn’t lessen the sexism, especially when women are judged more harshly. It’s not an equation that can be balanced thus: “Oh, let’s do to the men what they do to us! How terribly post-feminist!” Never mind that the overwhelming majority of rape and sexual violence is against women, no matter about the lack of women in senior positions in almost every field, we have Tube Crush and we can be just as leery as men. In a nice way, of course, so they’ll feel flattered rather than violated.
It becomes more difficult to argue against female objectification if do the same to men, albeit in a watered-down, complimentary sort of way. If we expect men to get the idea that we don’t particularly want to be constantly evaluated for our looks alone or to be pestered in public spaces, this website is not the way forward. Tube Crush’s stated mission is, “To pay homage to the Hommes.” In a world where most bosses are still male, don’t we do quite enough of that already?