... because men are also being objectified in advertisements, this may be a good response.
This article explains how the recent upsurge in 'female gaze' type commercials (like the Old Spice guy, a sexy Italian man giving middle-aged women salad dressing, etc.) is actually mocking the female gaze rather than affirming or catering to it. But even if this does represent increasing gender inequality, it isn't the kind we should want.
First, because the ads are so tongue-in-cheek, they didn't seem to be acknowledging and validating women's sexual desire, so much as mocking it. "It's funny to us to think of women being lustful," I told Gianatasio, "because we don't really take women's sexuality very seriously." In this way, the joke affirms the gender order because the humor depends on us knowing that we don't really objectify men this way and we don't really believe that women are the way we imagine men to be.
Second, objectifying men alongside women certainly isn't progress. There's the old critique that, if it is equality, it's not the kind we want. But, more importantly, the forces behind this so-called equality have nothing to do with justice. Gianatasio generously gave me the last word:
I wouldn't call it equality — I'd call it marketing, and maybe capitalism. Market forces under capitalism exploit whatever fertile ground is available. Justice and sexual equality aren't driving increasing rates of male objectification — money is.
I'm not sure what the takeaway is - it isn't gender equality, but if it is, it isn't the good kind? Still, if you have the kind of friends I do, these points may be useful ammo for future debate.
What do you think? Is this equality? And if it is, is it the kind you want?