• Thu, Oct 31 - 3:14 pm ET

Michael Fassbender Is Sick And Tired Of Being Objectified

micheal fassbender shame

Male actor Michael Fassbender has had it up to his penis with people talking about his penis. In fact, he says it’s akin to sexual harassment, and while he’s not wrong, he’s completely obtuse about the way he talks about it.

In an interview with Elle, Fassbender (who famously appeared naked in Shame, causing his impressive dick to become the talk of the town, and less famously appeared as a violent abuser in real life) expressed his frustration that his genitals get so much attention:

“It “wouldn’t be acceptable it would be seen as sexual harassment, people saying [to an actress], ‘Your vagina …’ You know?’”

Well, okay. Except that’s exactly what people say about actresses. As The Cut’s Maggie Lange points out:

One could argue that Fassbender is being treated exactly like an actress. Especially if you consider how freely people discuss actresses’ breasts, Fassbender is experiencing the exact same type of attention that actresses deal with every time they wear a revealing dress.

Meryl Streep has two breasts and 17 Academy Award nominations. Yes, it’s insidious that people are talking about Fassbender’s genitals with reckless abandon and men certainly can be objectified sexually in the same way that women are. But Fassbender pretending like he’s the only person on earth to experience this is embarrassingly tone deaf. Insidious as it may be, let’s not pretend that objectification hurts men in the same way that it hurts women. Nobody doubts that Fassbender is an excellent actor, and talk about his penis was matched by talk about his talent. Nobody seriously accused him of screwing his way into that role.

Obtuse as his comments may be, they do highlight the fact that harassment is harassment, regardless of whether it reads like criticism or compliments.

Fassbender also had something to say about how everyone thinks he’s the sexiest thing since sliced bread:

I’ve never really thought of myself as good looking. I think of myself as, you know, alright … I used to have bad acne as a teenager, so all of this is a bonus now, the fact that I don’t have pimples any more. And my hair was also, you know, unfortunate. I had really long hair. I mean, I tied it back most of the time, but I had all these frizzy bits coming off the top.

Lange posits that the intention here might be ”perhaps to gain a little sympathy,” and I can’t help but feel kind of eye-rolly about that. Then again, it is at least indicative of the fact that like women, men have impossible beauty standards to live up to. It’s also funny to think about celebrities as gawky teenagers, as we all know that puberty is the great equalizer.

Let’s all take a step back from talking about everyone’s bodies and private parts (unless they want you to). I completely sympathize with what Fassbender is saying—it’s super weird for people to be inordinately interested in and opinionated about your body. This is called being a lady. Welcome to the slumber party.

Photo: Getty Images, Shame

From Our Partners

Share This Post:
  • jacaline

    My only take away from this article is that you really don’t like Michael Fassbender.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      Not the worst thing to take away from a post, given that his ex-girlfriend said he threw her over a chair and broke her nose. Feels unlikable.

    • jacaline

      And that’s completely fine, I don’t know him or care about him– but I am not sure that was what the point of this article was supposed to be. There’s an obvious initial bias that kind of muddles the very valid idea that was trying to be put across. All I am saying is that it had the potential to be a commentary on inequality of women and their subsequent objectification and, in my eyes, turned into an article focusing more on personal distain.

  • Ashley

    It’s not that I don’t feel sympathy for him because, hey, guys can be objectified as well. But I’m not gonna lie…I can’t find myself to feel the same level of empathy as I do for women in the industry who experience a lot more awful repercussions about their bodies, especially in concert with their careers. Does that make sense?

    • http://poorgoop.com/ Samantha

      It totally does make sense, and I agre.

      This reminds me of when Jon Hamm said similar (albeit more thoughtful) things about being sexually objectified. I get it, it’s a bummer, but they never take the next step and see how their treatment parallels that of their female costars. The fact that Fassbender tried to make himself appear more victimized than a woman shows a lack of empathy or an inability to identify his privilege.

  • Deb

    Excuse me but where exactly did he say that “he’s the sexiest thing since sliced bread?” Or even allude to it? Perhaps he’s answering a question that he was asked in the interview. Apparently that’s how it’s done. Question is asked. Question is answered. Also, “But Fassbender pretending like he’s the only person on earth to experience this…” No, he’s not. But you and your hatred are pretending that he is.

    • Julia Sonenshein

      What is interview?

  • mse63

    I learned a while ago, that the best way to cope with Fassbender is to disregard his public persona and focus only on his acting. But then I think about all the actresses whose lives I know far too much more about than I’d like and…

    Anyway, that’s a bit off topic. I just can’t believe he said that when just a few months ago at the Oscars(!!!!) we had a song called “We saw your boobs”. THIS. EFFING. YEAR. Seriously, Fassbender? Seriously?! And wait, some of the actresses mentioned in that song were involved in rape scenes – if that’s not a horrifying example of women-objectifying, I don’t know what is. I just… Wow. I’ve always given the guy the benefit of the doubt despite his whole abuse scandal, but that was just some really ignorant quote there. No wonder he doesn’t talk a lot about himself – that would be just bad PR move.

    I obviously agree with the principal of what he’s saying – that male objectifying is just as bad, and people might not get called out often enough on it. And now that I calmed down a bit, I guess that’s what he was trying to say there: that while we, even as a minority stand up for the likes of that terrible McFarlane stunt, it feels like no one really speaks up about the shit people give Fassbender and other male stars. We just laugh and say “Well, at least now they know what it’s like”, and that’s definitely not an entirely healthy stand point.

  • Eileen

    Honestly…I think it’s that most men never experience this. Pretty much every woman, actress or not, has felt reduced to genitals at some point or another, and that doesn’t happen to men nearly as often. Actresses are horribly objectified, but they’ve already prepared for it just by being women. Actors are sometimes objectified, but as men they’re not used to it.

    Then there’s also the fact that, since it’s less common and men still hold the majority of gender privilege, the objectification of men is treated as almost cute – a girl-power kind of thing rather than harassment on the same level as what happens to women. And men are expected to be comfortable and okay with it, rather than allowed to complain about it as women do.

  • Chelsea

    I never heard the story of the possible abuse. I like him, he’s a great actor, so I hope that it isn’t true. Also, if we’re talking about gender double-standards, I’m p!ssed that Emma Roberts got arrested for abusing her boyfriend and no one seemed to bat an eye (The Gloss probably wrote an article saying the exact same thing… but it wasn’t much covered at all).