You Know Nothing, Jon Snow: Kit Harington Claims Men Face Sexism In Hollywood Too
Pop culture’s latest case of “WHAT ABOUT THE MEN” is brought to you by Kit Harington — aka Jon Snow on Game of Thrones, aka Lordy McBroody Commander — who wants people to be aware of the sexism faced by male actors in Hollywood. Harington recently revealed that he doesn’t want to be reduced to his good looks, and that he feels the sting of sexism most when he’s asked to get shirtless or more for photoshoots.
It’s not that I don’t get the basis of his complaints: It must be grating to keep answering questions about your body and the history of your romantic life when you’re trying to talk about your actual work, as probably every actress who’s ever done an interview could tell him. Crack open your nearest women’s magazine and you’ll find its cover star outlining her beauty and exercise regime, diet, and love life (or, if she doesn’t go into detail, having to justify her desire for privacy). Being a celebrity means people will be invasive and want to tear open your insides… That’s all valid and fair and not exclusively a thing that famous women have to deal with. It’s just…not sexism. More on that in a minute.
The interviews with Harington that I’ve read don’t extract nearly as much personal detail from him. He doesn’t explain what kind of hair care products he uses and why, or his emotions regarding the specific exercises he does to stay in shape. It sounds like he’s just getting a taste of what his female colleagues and predecessors have endured since God knows when.
As for the photoshoots, it’s OK to feel uncomfortable about taking it off in front of strangers, but these are promoting Game of Thrones, a show where women are naked all the time for no reason. Remember the brothel scene where Littlefinger explained his philosophy of life against a backdrop of nude sapphic sex worker action? Or where Melisandre took it all off to have sex with an almost fully clothed Stannis on his Dungeons and Dragons table? Or when one of the Sand Snakes got her boobs out for Bronn because….well, because? Think of how much the show asks of its actresses on a regular basis before ascribing your photoshoots to sexism.
Harington does acknowledge “a sexism in our industry that happens towards women” — right before adding, “and there is towards men as well.” He also slams the industry’s “double standard,” as illustrated by the questionable fact that it’s fine to ask a man but not a woman how it feels to be hot.
Oh, Kit, Kit, Kit. Sexism and objectification aren’t the same thing.
And seriously: have you READ even a single interview with a woman in Hollywood?
Sexism in practice is the oppression of one sex or gender by those of another sex or gender who predominate power structures. Since most top decision-makers in the entertainment industry are men (and our society is still patriarchal as hell), sexism most obviously and negatively affects women. When it comes to appearance, women are there to be looked at while men get to do the looking. That’s why Game of Thrones has naked women all over the place to the point where we can verify that they wax in Westeros but saves male frontal nudity for key moments.
But anyone can be objectified. If the focus is on your body rather than your talent, that’s objectification, regardless of gender. Based on Harington’s statements, it sounds like he has a problem with being objectified by the industry, which is understandable; no one wants to be reduced to a pretty but hollow shell. However, he needs to get his perspective right — starting to suffer in a way that women have suffered for ages doesn’t mean that all of it now falls on you.