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Are shirtless pictures of Poldark sexist double-standards?

Some people are up in arms about Aidan Turner’s abs but we need to look at the context, says Prudence Wade.

When I heard the latest uproar around Poldark, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.

Here it is in a nutshell – the new series of the swashbuckling Cornish period drama starts on June 10, and in preparation the BBC has released a picture of star Aidan Turner without a shirt.

People are up in arms over the “double standards” of society, complaining that we’re not OK with the objectification of women, and yet we’re more than happy to ogle Turner’s chest.

Turner’s torso is all over news websites, social media and newspapers today. And, just a few years after all the public pressure to scrap Page 3 of The Sun after 45 years, some argue leching at Turner is no better, and that there would be uproar if there was collective ogling at a scantily-clad female actress emerging from the water.

That may be true but that argument forgets how many near-naked, perfectly-formed women we see on our screens every day, and how many of their roles exist purely to be attractive to a male character (or a male audience), and how deeply damaging that is in a society that already values women less than men.

Turner’s photo has been likened to the iconic shot of Daniel Craig as James Bond in blue Speedos. But it’s worth remembering that such sexualisation of male actors is still a rarity – especially in comparison with the amount of female flesh on show. The Bond franchise is a good example of this – such a strong emphasis has been put on women’s bodies as opposed to their characters. One is literally called Pussy Galore.

Aidan Turner rides Seamus over heathland on Gwennap Head on the Cornish coast during filming

Turner filming Poldark in Cornwall last year

The treatment of women has been getting slowly better as we become more aware of how damaging hypersexualisation can be. So is it OK for men to be lusted after? Many people think it’s not, but I’m not so sure.

Seeing women objectified so frequently and frivolously arguably tells men that sex is theirs to take, and this contribution to rape culture is one of the most damaging outcomes of how women are often portrayed on film and TV. But I can’t see the same happening to men – society has conditioned us too far the other way.

In fact, I’d argue that calling out the BBC, or anyone else, for having “double-standards” and criticising women for enjoying Turner’s torso actually fits perfectly into these structures of misogyny. I’m not saying that everyone who was offended by the picture was male, but it’s got to be said that the majority of people I’ve seen making disgruntled noises on Twitter are men.

Maybe the issue isn’t that a man is being leched at, but that it’s women who are doing the leching.

Historically, men dictate women’s relationship with sex. For so long women were expected to be virginal before marriage and then obedient wives, and some would argue that narrative still exists. All the while the media, TV and film hypersexualise women’s bodies – all for male, not female, pleasure. So for many, actually seeing women looking at someone in a sexual way (even if it’s simply thinking Turner’s abs are “a bit of alright”) is a shock. Women aren’t ‘supposed’ to be lascivious – but it’s what is expected of men.

This isn’t the first time the argument of “double-standards” has been raised – indeed, Turner found himself at the centre of it back in 2015 when the BBC released another shirtless picture of him. He told Newsbeat at the time: “I don’t know why the BBC are releasing photos of it. It’s a bit strange.” However, he recently said he doesn’t mind that the fans love looking at his chest, joking that they should “go for it”.

When women look at a male torso, the same power play doesn’t happen – because we aren’t the dominant sex in society. Not only this, but there just aren’t the same societal pressures on men to look a certain way. I’m not saying these pressures don’t exist – they just aren’t as acute as the expectations on women, so it’s not as damaging.

So no, I really don’t think that objectifying men on TV is a double-standard, nor is it sexist. Saying so completely ignores the centuries of oppression women have endured – when society truly is fair (ie. no misogyny, gender pay gap, rape culture etc), then it might be different.

What are your views? Are shirtless pictures of Poldark sexist double-standards?

Are shirtless pictures of Poldark sexist double-standards?

256 people have already voted, what's your opinion? Yes No

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Richard65
14th Aug 2018
0
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I much prefer the old days, (hell, I never thought I'd hear myself using that phrase). I'm now 65 And I much prefer the days when ladies were ladies and men were gentlemen. We didn't have sexism back then, Oh you did have the work men from the local building site shouting, "Ello Darling". but apart from that you could pay a woman a compliment but now your not allowed as it can be regarded as being sexist. You can't say, Oh Mrs Jones your looking very well, have you lost weight, or Mrs Jones your hair looks lovely. Now we can only nod and walk past.

Besides, most of the time people won't see you as their too busy texting on their mobiles so you'll just be ignored, Which I still regard as being rude,
Raindrop
5th Aug 2018
0
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Wow he looks fit. More pics please but just of his top half that`s plenty for me.
Onecott
9th Jul 2018
1
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Well it would be rude not to look & admire
viking
19th Jun 2018
1
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Wow that shirt off photograph is now appearing everywhere, it is now a major PR coup which surely must have doubled the viewing figures !!
SusanB42
22nd Jun 2018
0
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Yep you are right there hate to say it Adain but have seen better
AlisonP24
12th Jun 2018
1
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Men can appreciate a beautiful woman so why can't women appreciate a handsome man shirt on or off.
moray
4th Aug 2018
0
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There is no equality here. We should see his co-star bare chested to. If men are required to appear without their shirts on women should also appear shirtless. - Its equality.
viking
9th Jun 2018
4
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Maybe the PC brigade have unwittingly given the Cornish holiday businesses a boost !!
Shed loads of ladies going to the beaches to see if they can see any tricorn hatted riders galloping across the sands !!
CaroleAH
10th Jun 2018
0
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ginntonic
9th Jun 2018
2
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It's fine by me if a good looking man with a wonderfully toned body want to get his shirt off on TV. It's his choice to do so. Those who object can always change channels.
red kay
8th Jun 2018
1
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moray
4th Aug 2018
0
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Fun works both ways.
Irene88
8th Jun 2018
2
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It's a TV programme, either watch and enjoy or switch off the choice is yours.
JamesT9
6th Jun 2018
2
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It's fine either way, olgle it's just a bit of fun.
LynnR638
5th Jun 2018
1
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I have the full set of Poldark novels; ( I must reread them). I watched the original Poldark years ago. The main character in the early books, Ross, is an integral part of the whole concept of the novels. I found, and find, the character, (and actors!) of George Warleggan to be just as sexy as Ross. They are strong men and you just know they will be gentle but passionate lovers, AND they will help with the cleaning and cook dinner sometimes, and not forget your birthday! Anyway, Aidan Turner looks like my son (who also lives in Cornwall), so I can't go there!!
nanabet48
5th Jun 2018
8
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It's not sexist, it's human nature - we're only lOOking after all.
Joe Slater
5th Jun 2018
2
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If it is sexist when it is a female then the same rules must apply when it is a male that is been objectified sexually.
moray
4th Aug 2018
0
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It is sexist. If men are required to be bare chested so should the women. Think of all the hen nights going to see male stripers. Men going to see female stripers its shocking, must be stopped. Its called double standards.
viking
5th Jun 2018
2
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Looking at the previous posts, you have all fallen into the trap !!
This piece of tittilation was released by the publicity department of Poldark to make sure it sucked in more viewers, in particular ladies who wish to see if there are more of himself without his shirt on.
Can we please see viewing figures before the article, and the latest viewing figures ??
AnneS62
4th Jun 2018
6
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Nothing wrong in my view about shirtless men.I actually think it’s women who have taken it too far about their lack of clothes.
J of Kirton
4th Jun 2018
12
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Oh for goodness sake.. There are so many other things that we all should be concerned about. Aidan Turner has a good looking body and personally I don't think there is anything wrong in us appreciating that.
DorothyT9
4th Jun 2018
11
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This is all just stupid. If a man wants to do this fine. I also have no problem with girls draping themselves over cars/boats if that’s how the want to make their money. As long as it’s the persons free choice I think it’s fine.
Poppyrose
4th Jun 2018
11
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A woman's breasts are the whole sexual arousal and then subsequent feeding and nurturing thing but a man's is most definitely not. Women's breasts are a more private part of her body whereas there is absolutely no sexual connotation to a man's breasts i.e. we do not drool over a page three model getting his breasts out. If they started to publish pictures of his penis then that would be - women do however have sexual double standards when they are flirting and testing out their sexual allure on some poor hapless man who would genuinely think he was desirable and then he makes a move the woman suddenly starts shouting 'sexual harassment' and worse. The whole subject is so tricky and we all have to be so careful although as an old lady, no-one ever thinks I am gazing at an attractive man in anything other than a grandmotherly fashion haha!!.......................................
moray
4th Aug 2018
0
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Women look at men for sexual arousal. Though women will not publicly admit to this.
Alicia
4th Jun 2018
3
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I am happy to look at him topless 🙂
NadineVP
8th Jun 2018
0
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moray
4th Aug 2018
0
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And I would be happy to look at his female co start topless.
moray
4th Aug 2018
0
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I'd love to see his co star topless.
[deleted]
4th Jun 2018
2
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nanabet48
5th Jun 2018
2
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Yes Jorid, his face is rather fine. The thing about him, for me, is the expressions in those dark, brooding, expressive eyes! Now that is something to swoon over, especially when you daydream they are looking at you. Chest isn't bad either.
Wilf
4th Jun 2018
3
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No its not the same but it does sell the programme I suppose as all the ladies are talking about him including my wife who should know better at her age!!!!!!
LynnD34
4th Jun 2018
2
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Wilf, there is no age barrier to admiring fine Body for either gender. And at almost 60 I do admire his.
Lionel
4th Jun 2018
4
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Bet you wife doesn't read SS posts!
Wilf
4th Jun 2018
2
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She does Lionel but I would not let her see this one as she would get too excited!
Lionel
4th Jun 2018
4
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Best laugh I've had all day.

My wife is a member so I must watch what I say. She's a life long fan of Cliff Richard. No taste!
linj
4th Jun 2018
2
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Your wife is definitely a woman of taste Lionel. I am of course referring to Cliff. (No offence to your good self).
Wilf
4th Jun 2018
2
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Very true Lynn-we can all admire fine statues so its a similar thing. All of us no matter what age appreciate beauty.
Lionel
4th Jun 2018
3
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Ah, linj, differing musical tastes cause controversy. My wife and I have for so many years agreed to differ.

We went to a Cliff Richard concert in the Albert Hall some years ago. I still have an illicit video of it. A couple of years later, on her birthday, we went to Simon and Garfunkel's Reunion concert in Hyde Park.

Oh, what a difference! A warm, balmy summer's evening in Hyde Park, 10,000 in the enclosure and 150,000 outside. At one point Artie asked if anyone had a birthday. At that point I thought my wife would part from her pants and wave them.

Thank goodness she didn't ... although on thinking about that ...

We still disagree about music but have now found a middle ground with Simon and Garfunkel. Occasionally she gets out the vinyl and plays it - always Cliff. He's OK, but not to my taste.
Lionel
4th Jun 2018
1
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You're equating Michelangelo's King David with Cliff? I know David sang and danced before the LORD but Cliff's high jinx on stage ... not quite in the same league.
linj
5th Jun 2018
0
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Yes Lionel. Agree about differing musical tastes. My late husband was a huge and I mean huge Bob Dylan fan, never could understand his music. Give him his due he tolerated Cliff and my other dreamboat Johnny Mathis and we have been to several Cliff concerts and have lost count of the times we have seen Johnny in concert. On the rare occasion Dylan came to Britain my husband would go to see him and i have lost count of the many bootleg recordings he managed to obtain. Simon and Garfunkel was another firm favourite with bridge over troubled waters a firm favourite. My husband passed away suddenly 7yrs ago but his huge Dylan records, dvds and book remain firmly in place no way are they going anywhere soon.
moray
4th Aug 2018
0
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Cliff is the tops. One of the best and always will be.
viking
4th Jun 2018
1
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If you have "it" flaunt "it". !!

Why in this present age do have to have some "academic" trying to justify his existance and salary, by giving us the algorisms as to the why's and wherefores of a man showing off his pecks,???
Yodama
4th Jun 2018
3
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Blimey! To ban him going shirtless to conform is a step too far methinks. Maybe he could wear a manly medallion?
[deleted]
4th Jun 2018
2
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Lionel
4th Jun 2018
1
Thanks for voting!
So, size does matter?

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