GQ: genuine quality or genuinely questionable?

I love this perspective on the GQ magazine photo spread of Men & Woman of the Year from

“…all of GQ’s “men of the year” are dressed exactly the same, while their singular “woman of the year” – singer Lana Del Rey – is not dressed at all. The implication is that the men here are valuable for something beyond what they look like (since they are all presented almost identically), but that the woman is valuable only for what she looks like (since she is visually presented so differently from the others).”

So often we take for granted the idea that women should be an object of beauty, presented artfully- that nudity itself is an artform. Well if this is so, then why are men typically and often presented in suits, ties, and style? Why is the woman the only one naked?

You might argue that this is a primarily straight male readership and that naked guys aren’t going to sell GQ magazines. Even so, would a black dress not have sufficed? Aren’t straight men used to seeing clothed women (it’s not as though public nudity is a generally allowable thing) that a classy cocktail gown wouldn’t have communicated her allure as compellingly?

And should the readership of GQ be less hetero-sexist, then why the differentiation in male over female?

It is about objectifying women and it is so ubiquitous that we complicity accept this is artfully executed and that anyone who disagrees or finds fault with the visuals is being sensitive. Why should an ad hominem logical fallacy suffice for such obvious and blatant objectifying?

As elucidated in the article, this is not the only time that GQ has sold magazines by selling women as sexual objects of fantasy.

Equating-literally and figuratively- patriotism with female objectification (“Another Reason to Love Your Country”), this is a genuinely questionable trend. If this magazine is really for men of “genuine quality” then shouldn’t women be portrayed in an uplifting and empowered manner? Men of quality are not intimidated by strong women whose sexuality doesn’t define them. This doesn’t mean the absence of sex appeal, it means the absence of using sexual appeal to sell their personality or skillsets. You can still be beautiful or even sexual without being objectified- this is the difference between objectification and empowerment of women.

It’s not that there is no “clever” scheme, usage of props, or a complete lack of artistic merit. That’s not the point. It’s the underlying subtleties that such imagery and usage of props communicates. No one has said that fun with popsicles or clever headlines aren’t an appreciated art, it’s just an expression of a pervasive culture ideology and another mainstream representation of the underlying symptom of demeaning women based on appearances.

And the women are complicit in their allowance for objectification:

“It’s like any job… you find your strengths and you play them up.” Kate Upton

Yes, we’ve all fallen victim to the idealism of a sexuality based popularity. The bigger the boobs, the fitter the body, the tinier, the skinnier, the whatever whatever objectification that women subject themselves to is a familiar battle for every identifying lady at least in America and the world over.

Mainstream publications like GQ are furthering this deleterious imagery and objectification in an era where so much is necessary to move forward into equality and leave behind the rule of thumb for abuse and mistreatment of women. It’s disheartening to see that such popular publications would be sending out such messages to their readership. The excuse or dismissal that “this is just how GQ functions” or “what do you expect from a men’s magazine” is no longer good enough. It is time for the responsibility toward women’s well-being and equal, respectful treatment to rise.

Thanks to Miss Representation for the insight. I’m #notbuyingit either.


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