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