Objectifying Ryan Gosling

Women lust, and men lust. Joanna Schroeder wonders why we can’t just leave it at that.

It all started with Tom Matlack talking about his friend’s wife’s tits. Well, it wasn’t as bad as I just made it sound there. It was actually about how his friend regarded his own wife’s tits after pregnancy and motherhood had deflated them. Well, it wasn’t even actually about that, either, but that’s what everyone remembers. It actually asked us all to think about how the world would change if men could just be open about their lust.

Then Marcus Williams answered with a fantastic piece where he concluded that the world really doesn’t want men to be open about their lust. We want so bad to be an open and honest society, you men want to be able to communicate with your wives and partners the way us women tell you we want you to. But in fact, as Marcus concluded, society doesn’t really accept that; society thinks your lust is yucky. And us wives think your lust for the things we can no longer offer you is hurtful.

So what does a woman, a woman over the age of 22, a married woman who has given birth, whose body is healthy and strong but not the same as it was pre-babies, think of your lust? Well, I think your lust is the same as ours. And I, like Tom, wonder what would happen if we could be open with our lust.

Instead of the way you husbands, even you excellent husbands, dream of our pre-baby boobs that looked great under our t-shirts in the morning before we put on our bras; instead of the way you dream of our bellies, the way the skin was taut and smooth in our bikinis all those pre-baby days at the beach—instead of dreaming of those things, we dream of your earlobes.

Yes, your earlobes. Your earlobes before hair. We even dream of your earlobes before the hair on them turned grey. And we dream of your backs. Oh your backs! Strong, taut, muscular, and hairless. We dream of your belly before you called it your “gut.” We dream of your feet before we had to tell you to cut your damn toenails.

Society has given you guys porn, strip clubs, and The Girls Next Door to keep you company. Up until recently, us equally-disenchanted wives had to settle for the leftovers of your lust—porn, even female-centered porn like that made by women such as Erika Lust, is just not most women’s thing. Male strippers aren’t exactly targeting women as their core audience, and although there are “great” male bodies to look at on TV, no women I know wake up with heaving chests after dreaming about The Situation from Jersey Shore.

But recently our prayers have been answered. Two words: Mark and Ryan. Ruffalo and Gosling. Ladies, you know what I’m sayin’. Mark Ruffalo is sorta nerdy, super-smart, politically active, and has a killer, killer body. Not to mention he has a smart, pretty, talented wife with a cool haircut.

And Ryan Gosling! After Ryan Gosling was cheered by thinking women everywhere for scolding the MPAA for the NC-17 rating given to Blue Valentine, calling them misogynistic pawns of the patriarchal system, he became the darling of teenyboppers and feminists alike. He now even has a hysterical parody Tumblr page dedicated to him called Feminist Ryan Gosling, which I will admit to visiting daily. My fellow feminist friend created a mock-greeting card of Ryan Gosling, shirtless, saying, “Hey Joanna…” and then quoting his rant against the MPAA and posted it on my Facebook wall.  It got 30 “likes” by all my girlfriends.

My husband doesn’t know about my thing for Ryan Gosling or Mark Ruffalo (until now—hi honey!), and I feel bad keeping it a secret, but what’s the point of rubbing it in? I don’t want to know if he’s calling up images of some young topless starlet on his MacBook, and he probably doesn’t want to know that I’m secretly dreaming of Noah from The Notebook.

Our lust doesn’t have to be shouted from the rooftops, but we shouldn’t be ashamed of it. You guys like round tits, and we like strong backs. But what most of us really like, when it comes down to it, are our spouses. I love my husband. He’s super sexy, he’s strong, he’s intelligent and funny. He’s a great father, and he sacrifices a lot for us. I know he feels the same about me. If he’s checking out Scarlett Johansen on Youtube, fine, he deserves it. As long as he doesn’t mind my repeated viewings of The Kids Are All Right.

—Photo AP/Joel Ryan

About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer and editor with a special focus in issues facing raising boys and gender in the media. Her work has appeared on Redbook, Yahoo!, xoJane, MariaShriver.com, TIME.com, and more. She and her husband are outdoor sports enthusiasts raising very active sons. She is currently co-editing a book of essays for boys and young men with author and advocate Jeff Perera. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.


  1. Is ryan gosling married? Does he have a family? No, he is a single childless hollywood bachelor millionaire. In other words, the dude is just trying to gret laid. He is a genius! Women are soooo gullible. Obviosuly the dudes life would be wack if it werent for promiscuous women. If he had to commit to one women and rais ea fmaily he would never say these things. He wouls be klooking for “mom”…just like the rest of us who have sewed our wild oats with “independent” women and nnow want a nuce nurturing family girl to settel down with. But manm you gotta give it to teh guy for ptting on this act to get laid.

  2. HidingFromtheDinosaurs says:

    Having grown up on Japanese comic books, I always find it absolutely mystifying that anyone can pretend women don’t lust after and objectify men just as much as the other way around. I can walk to any bookstore in the city (Kanazawa, if you care) and find shelves full of enough material based around providing women of all ages with hot guys to drool over to crush a tank under the weight of them. Of course, the same could be said of the wall of trashy romance novels in every American bookstore and supermarket that so many people love to conveniently forget about when this topic comes up. Hell, I went to see Eclipse in the theater on opening night and the place was packed with women who were literally sighing and drooling over the dudes on screen (based on the noise, I have to assume that at least one of them was masturbating in the theater). There’s an entire genre of Japanese video games devoted to this. They’ve even started casting host club-looking guys in Kamen Rider so that stay at home moms won’t get bored while their kids watch it every Sunday morning. Sometimes it even leads to great things, like when I got my kid sister to watch the international cut of Red Cliff because she thought Takeshi Kaneshiro was hot as Zhuge Liang (okay, even I thought he looked sexy in that movie). Anyone who talks about sexual objectification or sex in the media and ignores this stuff isn’t worth listening to.

    Also, do most guys really not have hair on their backs? I’ve had sort of big “T” shape ever since I hit puberty. The only guys I routinely see naked are Asian (public baths are awesome), so I never noticed because they have so little body hair in general.

  3. Michael Rowe says:

    I love your work, Joanna!

  4. most husbands let themselves go. I cannot think of any men who look as good as they did before they had kids. I think Marcus probably looked better pre-baby too. He must have a nice wife who doesn’t point out his man boobs or extra chub.

  5. Sorry, I used the NASB. Also, this is in reference to true adultery. It’s an oxy moron to say that if you look at your wife with lust, you’re committing adultery.

  6. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” -Matthew 5:27-28

    That’s all.

    • Marcus Williams says:

      Matthew who? Is that from a peer-reviewed journal, because I’d kind of like to see what data and methodology he used.

    • And I’m sure that admonition actually matters to some minor fraction of devout Christians. The rest of us? Shrug.

    • wellokaythen says:

      There is the 1634 “misprint” of a Bible printed in England that year that actually states “Thou shall commit adultery.” It caught quite a lot of attention at the time….

      And, umm…what about a man’s wife? She’s a woman. If he lusts after her, is he committing adultery with his own wife?

      • wellokaythen says:

        P.S. When using biblical quotes, it is proper to provide the name of the version you are using. Is this the KJV, NIV, RSV, or….?

  7. Wellokaythen..it came a bit late, but I figured out what bugged me about your initial sarcastic response. Here’s mine:

    All men hate me because they could only like jerky and bitchy women! I make 80,000 a year and work on my body, but when I follow a man around a grocery store and ask for his phone number, he won’t give it to me! I’ve spent hundreds of hours reading books on how to pick up men by playing on their insecurities and all it’s gotten me is an naive chubby college guy in a bar! I’m just going to give up on all contact with these he-devils because…they’ll nag me one day…the media says so! How dare you men actually have sex with women you find attractive? If your penis doesn’t tingle for me *sob* it shouldn’t tingle for that ho who must abuse you and cheats on you! I’m SO NICE, you f**king d**k, SO NICE! Say it with me bitches…assholes hate us because we’re just too nice! 🙂

  8. While I think Ryan Gosling is very attractive, I do not masturbate to images of him. I also don’t spend time online seeking out pictures of him or storing them in a folder for later viewing.

    And while us women have Ryan Gosling, don’t men have Angelina Jolie? I’m not sure the fact that there are attractive male actors are enough to combat all the outlets men have in regards to attractive women.

    I also find that when a woman is in love, she will find her imperfect husband/boyfriend so much more attractive then an actor. While I find with men, that they will find the actress more attractive but make up comments about how their wife has such a wonderful personality as if a woman should be happy with that alone while he lusts after other women.

  9. Marcus–I was thinking about the cheating thing, and I’ll try to explain the difference between that and shit-talking. Like you said, lusting is absolutely a non-issue, I think we’re both in agreement with that one. As for cheating, to me, it’s a mistake that can happen–a really bad one, but a mistake nonetheless:

    My partner is my lover and my ally. We are completely honest with each other, he’s the one I call first when I’m in trouble, he’s the one who gives me some incredible sex but with whom I can laugh when it’s awkward, he can tell me when it’s been too long since I’ve showered and I can make fun of him when his weight fluctuates a little, we know what compliments are best used with each other and what insults will really sting. Am I going to give everything up because he might get drunk one night while out of town and bang a hot girl who’s all over him. I’ll be pissed off. I’ll see it as possibly opening the door for me to do the same thing. An orgasm or two without me does not invalidate or get rid of everything we’ve worked for, nor does it get rid of the love and lust we have with each other. Maybe it’ll take some therapy, maybe we’ll open up the marriage for a little bit, we’ll get STD testing done–either way, cheating doesn’t have to do with a dissatisfaction , it’s just about a lust for another person. Shit talking is negative in principle, and absolutely dishonest.

    I would never call my husband a loser to my friends. I could never see myself mentioning parts of his body or our sex life that I don’t enjoy to people I don’t care about as much as him. Also, most of his friends know me and most of my friends know him. Most of our friends are at least somewhat shared. The last thing I would want to do is show up at one of his Magic tournaments and wonder why the guys are suddenly scrutinizing my breasts (I’m used to the attempting to be hidden glance, of course). If he were to talk shit about my body to a girl (especially if she’s a friend who’s also an ex)–there’s something wrong there, and I don’t want her to start pitying me, knowing gross details about my body, or thinking he’s dissatisfied.

    As for the telling your partner about flaws, this is probably a bad idea when done in the wrong context. I do know a couple who would make fun of each others body’s all the time. Eventually they went on a diet and exercise regime together, and it was great for them. Most people around my parents’ age have a pretty jokey and self deprecating attitude about aging. I would never suggest rudely saying something to your partner, but at some point, people seem to be able to take it in stride, and sometimes a little nudge can motivate you and or your partner, or allow you to make your own insecurities into a joke.

  10. tu quoque says:

    “Society has given you guys porn, strip clubs, and The Girls Next Door to keep you company. Up until recently, us equally-disenchanted wives had to settle for the leftovers of your lust—porn, even female-centered porn like that made by women such as Erika Lust, is just not most women’s thing.”

    You’re displaying a massive amount of female privilege here. Society gave men nothing. Men created strip clubs, porn, and other forms of sexual entertainment for themselves, in order to provide a respite from the sexual hierarchy. Women don’t necessarily gravitate towards these things because they already benefit from the cultural coercion that makes men always sexually available to women.

    Also, the MPAA is extremely misandrous. It tries to protect women from exploitation while it promotes the idea that male exploitation is not an issue.

    • While I agree that the MPAA does pretend male exploitation is not an issue, I don’t think the MPAA gives two shits about protecting women from exploitation… at least not in the case of Blue Valentine. I’ve seen so many R-rated movies with sex scenes where the female was clearly in distress and the distress was eroticized.

      The issue with the movie Blue Valentine was that they wanted to give an NC-17 because of the scene where Williams was having somewhat-consentual (but miserable) sex with her husband. In contrast, Black Swan had a WAY more graphic sex scene between Portman and Kunis that received an R rating. Blue Valentine, as a film, was a triumph and that scene gave voice to a way women feel that had never really been seen before in a film. Not rape, not quite not-rape. Because of the discomfort in watching that scene, as opposed to the erotic nature of the girl-on-girl scene in Black Swan, that movie was going to be restricted from most mainstream movie theaters.

      I loved both films for different reasons, but Ryan Gosling was spot-on with in his statement to the MPAA.

  11. Marcus Williams says:

    Your earlobes before hair. We even dream of your earlobes before the hair on them turned grey. And we dream of your backs.

    I’ve never been an especially hairy guy, but now that I get stray hairs popping up from time to time on my ears and back, my wife likes to tweeze them out, and strangely, I kinda like it, too. I reciprocate, but it’s more about finding ingrown hairs than a stray hair search. It reminds me of primates that pick and preen at each other, but without fleas and mites. Any other secret pickers out there? C’mon, who’s with me?

    I fear I’ve said too much.

    • wellokaythen says:

      Hmm. Are you saying I shouldn’t have fleas and mites in my back hair? This could explain the problem I’ve been having with…oh. Never mind.

    • My poor husband – he suffers for my art – I totally wax the parts on him that need waxing! I like it. He likes it. He doesn’t wax me, but he did have to teach me to pop a zit, I’m the luckiest human on the planet in that I didn’t really have a pimple until I was thirty…

      This is a part of intimacy. It bonds us. Not every couple is set up for this, but it works for us.

      • I totally understand. I don’t get acne on my face, but I got a pimple on my lower…lower…lower tummy recently. *ahem* I popped it in front of my partner (pus and all). He said, “please don’t do that ever again, I don’t want to associate that with your vagina.” We had a good laugh, forgot about it, and then great sex later that night. That level of intimacy is pretty nice, I can’t lie about it. It works for us, as well.

  12. Yes, Joanna, you nailed it. There is no problem at all with lust, for either men or women, so long as you’re in a place of mutual trust. It becomes a problem only when there is some suspicion about your partner’s priorities, which honestly doesn’t have much to do with lust.

  13. Laugh all you want, wellokthen–there’s been an exponential rise in men putting effort and money into their looks, and feeling uncomfortable in their own skin. More and more men are now mascaping, hitting the gym, getting botox, personal trainers, surgery, going to spas, using blow dryers, tanning, buying lotions and hair products marketed towards men, etc.. My own guy–who is very straight and very nerdy (not just a cute guy who wears glasses nerdy, but plays tons of MTG, is obsessed with fantasy and sci fi, and meets friends through his ‘nerdy’ habits)–refuses to go to a barber (needs to go to a salon and get a professional to do his hair), his jeans are always designer and at least $100, and he is constantly complaining about his weight. The gap between the amount of time and money men and women spend on their looks is still pretty wide (your average man still doesn’t spend thousands and thousands of dollars on beauty each year), but it’s very quickly narrowing. Men are starting to put a lot more effort into their looks and are being more open–and whining–about it than ever before. I see and hear about it on a daily basis from males around my age, older men trying to keep up, as well as in the media. Laugh now, just try and keep up. 🙂

    • wellokaythen says:

      In reply to Aya, in proper GMP fashion:

      I must express my outrage at the unfair, unrealistic standards that women have forced (forced, I say!) men to follow. I refuse to mention any way in which men have any agency in their choices. Don’t even THINK about saying that we men do this manscaping for ourselves and our own reasons. We are merely programmed by the dominant culture from a very young age.

      Our sick society has sexualized back muscles – they’re just lumps of flesh designed to carry children, so what’s the big deal?

      We have to compete with every other man in the world, even the airbrushed, soft-lit celebrities. If only your gender was more enlightened and forgiving and realistic about the human body, instead of stuck in adolescence. Now as the self-appointed spokesperson for half the world’s population I hereby express my disappointment with the other half of the world’s population and wait patiently for my passive aggressiveness to sink in. My ego now awaits other men’s show of solidarity.

      I think I’m getting the hang of this. [Shudder]

      • Haha…OK, good point. There does seem to be a lot of women who don’t seem to believe that men have agency or brains. I personally never thought most men were like that. They should, at least, understand that what you see in a magazine isn’t always real life. That doesn’t mean that you can’t appreciate the beauty and art in it, or be turned on by woman’s body, pose, or (even airbrushed) perfection. I’ve done quite a bit of modeling, so I know how good I look in great lighting–but I also know that on a bad day, in the morning, or in fluorescent lighting, I’m not my best self–but I’m still f**king hot and beautiful. Yeah, I’ve heard the “oh, you look so beautiful in sweatpants and no makeup” thing about a thousand times *yawn*…I still know that I can command a room’s attention much better in heels and some eyeliner. Both men and women are initially drawn by ‘shallow’ traits, but JUST relying on that won’t do you any good the minute one of you sees someone you’re also attracted to, or when one of you gets sick, or when you’re helping each other with children or careers. Breasts are beautiful. Sure they’re also utilitarian, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyed and felt up too…just like backs and shoulders…^.^

        • I’m with Aya, per usual.

          I’m also with Aya on the topic of men’s shoulders… I can’t believe I left out the shoulders.


        • Marcus Williams says:

          Yeah, I’ve heard the “oh, you look so beautiful in sweatpants and no makeup” thing about a thousand times *yawn*

          That right there is a huge part of the problem from where I sit. I have, quite sincerely, told my wife (or other women, previously) that they are beautiful or sexy to me when they’re not trying. When the reaction is *yawn*, or “no, I’m not”, or “you’re just being nice”, or “you just want sex right now”, it makes me a little less likely to keep saying it, because I don’t like being talked out of it. If/when a complaint later arises that she wants to feel attractive to me all the time and I don’t express it enough, I can’t help some resentment for being blamed for a situation of her own making. If you want to be beautiful to me, stop yawning when I tell you you’re beautiful, because I’ll start anticipating that yawn and not bother.

          • Let me tell you, in my vast research into men – both friends and more-than-friends – that almost all straight men go apeshit for a girl in sweats and a tank top (no bra is an added bonus if the guy’s someone you’re intimate with). The overpriced black lace contraptions from Agent Provocateur may add some spice and variety, but there’s something spectacular about a woman when she’s relaxed, when she’s comfortable, and when she’s not trying.

            Sure Aya, women like us know how to work it in heels and the right wardrobe – not even slutty, just attention-getting. But when it comes to that true, intimate sex appeal it’s all about the special way only they get to see us.

            And people – ladies and guys – never dismiss a compliment from someone you admire! Be it a friend or a lover… Lesson one!

            • You’re right, J.F. I guess the point wasn’t very clear. I was just trying to say, that while most men do love a woman with no makeup and sweatpants (everyone I’ve been with has said something along the lines of it, hence the yawn), I also understand that there’s a fantasy element they’re attracted to–whether that be heels or soft lighting (that makes makeup and no sweatpants look a lot better :)). Keep in mind too, that when a woman puts effort into a look and the man says ‘oh, I just prefer you in sweatpants’…it’s a little annoying, especially if you know that it’s not what’s expected of you when you go out.

    • wellokaythen says:

      I can’t help but laugh, because I think it’s funny when vanity leads people to do absurd things. It’s absurd when people of all genders insert poison into their faces in an attempt to feel better about themselves. (They have every right to, god bless ‘em, and who knows, maybe I don’t know what I’m missing.) Botox is the main reason that our cans of food have expiration dates on them. We’ve spent centuries trying to make preserved food safe from poisons, and now we’re sticking the poison directly into ourselves. What next, using polio to slim your legs? Tetanus to give yourself a tighter jaw line? Ebola to make your cheeks rosy?

      If catching up means sticking plastic into my chest and ripping hair out all over my body, I’m happy to fall behind.

      However, I like to think if I had elective plastic surgery that I would make a lot of jokes about it, like Joan Rivers does. Or I would be as self-assured as Cher, who has told people, “Look, they’re MY boobs. I’ll move them around to my BACK if I want to.”

      I think you’re right about “shallow” traits being what you may start with but are not a good basis for the long term.

      • You know, I feel like an idiot for saying this–but that’s one of the reasons I kind of like JWoww from Jersey Shore. Yeah, shut up. She doesn’t hide her plastic surgery, deny it, or shy away from it, like many celebrities do: Snooki and JWoww are walking by a church in Italy. They get yelled at for being dressed too skimpily. Snooki says: “God made my tits!” JWoww says: “God didn’t make mine.” I like that she can joke about it.

        I haven’t ever gotten plastic surgery, but I can’t say that I won’t in the future. I just don’t know. If it becomes the norm (for both men and women)? Age well all you want, you’ll still have that tell-tale wrinkle above your eye where you raise your eyebrow–that all the other women have had botoxed away. You don’t want to follow the pack blindly, but getting left behind is no good either. That’s why, when you’re ready for a relationship, you find a partner and ally that will be honest but kind–and not use a waning sexual attraction as an excuse to talk shit about you (women do this too, a lot). He can make fun of his love handles and bald spots while I make fun of my saggy tits (my perfect tit-ays seem to think they’ll live forever now, but I know they’ll start to feel the effects of gravity at some point in my life). Most importantly, have shit to talk about. Love and respect each other.

        • wellokaythen says:

          Yeah, I think it’s good to have a sense of humor about one’s body. It’s also very disarming to let people know “yeah, I know it looks fake, so what?” Takes the fun out of making fun of you if you’re already laughing about your plastic surgery. If you pretend like you’re fooling everyone, then you look like a total fool. If only men with toupes could laugh about wearing them, then people wouldn’t snicker so much behind their backs and we could all allow ourselves to stare.

          Tough call about the botox versus the raised eyebrow. I gotta say, a raised eyebrow can be a nice added emphasis to a sexy comment. It’s a shame to paralyze a suggestive facial feature.

          I’m going to have to watch this “Jersey Shore” I keep hearing about. Apparently it is single-handedly dragging down American society. No more elevated television like Mr. Ed or Laugh In.

          • It’s bad…you really shouldn’t bother watching it, but…..so damn entertaining :/. Yeah, though–if people seriously think that a crappy reality show is single-handedly bringing down America, then we’re in deeper shit than we thought. If anything, it’s a symptom…of our education system…or something. Fist pump?

  14. wellokaythen says:

    Whoa. Be careful, now. You’re playing with fire, and your brain is in great danger. We all know from this site that objectifying someone online is just a short, slippery slope to raping someone and/or becoming so addicted that you destroy all of your personal relationships. You are simply reinforcing the ridiculous fairy tale standards that program our consciousness as males in this society.

    Telling us you lust after Ryan Gosling will now compel us men to kill ourselves in the hopeless effort to look just like him. Knowing that you are attracted to him now makes me doubt all the faith that I have in women and makes me doubt my own wife’s loyalty. I now deeply doubt my own attractiveness thanks to your hurtful, insensitive comments about men’s bodies. Why can’t you [sob] love me [sob] for who I am [sob]? Do you know how hard it is to stay hairless for you, you stupid jerk?

    Sarcastic parody intended.

  15. Yes. I totally agree, Joanna. While I don’t personally like being objectified (except on occasion by my boyfriend), I get that there are some women out there who do. And they’re not going to stop posing for Playboy, and even if they did, (some?) men are not going to stop objectifying women. So… why not even the playing field? So I will take almost any opportunity to objectify men.

    Mark Ruffalo yes! Ryan Gosling—I wouldn’t kick that out of my bunk. While I have never considered the sexiness of earlobes, there is something nice about the back of someone’s neck. And a nice, hairy chest.

    And as long as some men are complaining about post-baby boobs, I feel free to say that I adore a full head of hair. I’d still love my boyfriend if he lost it all, but until then, I enjoy running my fingers through it.

  16. I posted this in Marcus’s article and just want to make a point clear here too:

    Lust is not the problem. Breasts are not the problem, any of them. Not at all. The problem is Mr. W talking behind her back, using the word ‘ruined’ in regards to someone he loves, and feeling like he’s a good person just because he didn’t cheat on her with a teenager. That shows her disrespect. I’m sure she knows her tits aren’t as good as they were before childbirth. He doesn’t have to make it worse by embarrassing her and talking about them rudely. In a healthy relationship, you should be able to deal with it better than that. We don’t know his life though. Maybe he lets her get her kicks from other men. Maybe they have a don’t ask don’t tell policy. If they do, it’s fine. The anecdote just didn’t make it seem that way.

    And as Julie G. added, it didn’t sound like he was expressing lust at all, more a sense of contempt, frustration and making excuses for himself. He didn’t wistfully talk or joke about his wife’s pre-children breasts or about a pair of breasts that he did like.

    Great article, though! I’m not big on celebrity crushes, but I’m completely on board with the Ryan Gosling thing (Mark Ruffalo, not so much–I think he’s just a bit too old for me). I have a bit of a guilty pleasure in Lil Wayne, too. Yum. 🙂 Thanks also, for pointing out that there aren’t too many good strip clubs targeted for women. Where will I go to fulfill my lust while my husband is fulfilling his? I guess as a woman, you end up developing a really good imagination…it doesn’t take a lot to fuel it, often.

  17. Even my husband has a man-crush on Ryan Gosling — a man-crush.

  18. If you weren’t married to a wonderful husband, I’d ask you to marry me. That about sums it all up, and I’m glad you articulated it so clearly.

    PS — I would question my significant other if she claimed she DIDN’T think Ryan Gosling is hot.

  19. Then Marcus Williams answered with a fantastic piece where he concluded that the world really doesn’t want men to be open about their lust. We want so bad to be an open and honest society, you men want to be able to communicate with your wives and partners the way us women tell you we want you to. But in fact, as Marcus concluded, society doesn’t really accept that; society thinks your lust is yucky. And us wives think your lust for the things we can no longer offer you is hurtful.

    world? society? Marcus was more specific than that. To give an example,

    The deception aspect of Tom’s friend got a little attention in discussion, but what really depressed me was how quick the women in the thread were to condemn the friend and dispute the “wonderful” part for the crime of no longer finding his wife’s breasts as beautiful as he once had.

    Marcus, were you writing about the ‘world, society’, or the women in the comment threads and based on their reactions, het women generally?

    • GirlGlad4theGMP says:

      Yes, that was a hell of an attack, and kind of two-faced from where I sit. Almost all women friends, coworkers, acquaintances I have known have bemoaned some physical aspect of their partners, friends, etc., yet wouldn’t consider themselves bad partners for it. So why were the women on the thread so sensitive about a man vocalizing his feelings to a friend, in confidence? Why are we policing people’s thoughts and feelings? It doesn’t make any man or woman less wonderful a partner…it would if they voiced said feelings to a partner to be hurtful, or to request the person change their body. I know I’d rather a fathful man who treated me well and occasionally shared his qualms with my body with a male confidante, than one who told me I was gorgeous everyday and cheated and/or treated me poorly.

      • Yeah, you’re absolutely right that it happens from both ends. I guess because it made it into the public realm that it got such a response. YET, I’d personally rather have a partner tell me if I’m letting myself go and allow me to change it, than to go around telling people I might run into personal stuff about our sex lives or my body. I would never go and tell people who might meet my partner the things about his body or our sex life that I might find not so great. I certainly wouldn’t use relatively cruel terms like ‘ruined.’ Women do it too, possibly even more than men (too short, too fat, wrong penis size, smells bad, hair in the wrong places, balding, etc). I have felt extremely uncomfortable in situations where a woman has talked about her partner’s body or their sex life in a negative light, particularly if I know him or know who he is. I feel pity for the guy (which is probably the last thing he wants) and just don’t find it very productive or nice to talk about someone you love like that.

        • I also don’t think that cheating is the end of the world–it sucks, but I see it as more humane than whining and embarrassing your partner, and better than spending your time bitter and self-pitying when you’re not happy. “Well I talk shit behind your back about your body, don’t bother to tell you you’re pretty or do anything nice, and nag you all the time…At least I don’t cheat or abuse you!” Cheating just means you want to have sex with someone else (it’s human); complaining to others means that you’re unhappy and willing to be dishonest with your partner.

          • Marcus Williams says:

            YET, I’d personally rather have a partner tell me if I’m letting myself go and allow me to change it

            How do you suppose that approach might go over with my wife, middle-aged mother to twin toddlers, if I extended that courtesy of telling her which parts I think she’s “let go” so that she be allowed the opportunity to work on them for me?

            Cheating just means you want to have sex with someone else (it’s human); complaining to others means that you’re unhappy and willing to be dishonest with your partner.

            Wow. I guess cheating is also in the eye of the beholder, but I’d sure consider bad-mouthing my body to a friend several rungs lower on the cheating ladder than having sex outside our marriage without our knowledge or consent. If it’s just the wanting that you consider cheating, like fantasizing, that’s not enough to even be on the ladder.

            • Marcus, as a mother of two like your wife, please do not point out what you would like her to work on. I know you know this, but I’m just being clear. On the other hand, she’ll know you’re full of shit if you act like she looks the same as she did the day you met. I started to really admire my husband when he FINALLY admitted that the skin on my belly is, in fact, a little jacked up from being so round with child. He kept denying it and I would say, “you’re losing credibility, babe, I can take it.” Finally he said, “Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s hot to me.” And I believe him. Maybe I’m naive, but I do.

              I think the whole cheating thing is a whole different topic. On some levels I agree with Aya, it’s just sex. Sex is just bodies. Badmouthing and ripping apart your spouse is just mean, and it’s personal.

              However, the sex becomes personal when you add in deception, risk of disease, the lying, the time away from the family, the guilt and everything else. No one’s perfect, cheating can sometimes be forgiven, but let’s not simply something that’s actually really, really complicated.

              • Marcus Williams says:

                Marcus, as a mother of two like your wife, please do not point out what you would like her to work on. I know you know this, but I’m just being clear.

                Thanks. I wasn’t planning on trying it, but I was curious how Aya thought that might go for an older couple with kids and not much spare time.

              • In my experience–and let me clarify that I’m a gay male, so the whole my-partner’s-body-changed-after-pregnancy thing doesn’t apply–after a while of being with someone, even if they’ve let themselves go in some regard… it is the fact that it is _THEM_ that makes them attractive. And I think that shows a healthy kind of bonding that men and women alike tend to believe is not possible; that our partners find us attractive only for very predictable, very shallow reasons. So, JF, the statement your husband (finally) made about your belly skin reminded me of that fact.

        • Michael P says:

          “I guess because it made it into the public realm that it got such a response.”

          Well obviously. Naturally there could be no such response if it hadn’t been made public.

          But I think the point here is the double standard.

    • Marcus Williams says:

      Marcus, were you writing about the ‘world, society’, or the women in the comment threads and based on their reactions, het women generally?

      I confess to having a hunch that some of my feeling and observations must apply to all humanity, or at least all of whatever gender I’m contemplating, but so many people are wrong in thinking that way that I figure I must be, too. So yes, I did try to confine my observations to the women I responded to *and women like them*. In my mind, that’s hundreds of millions, but it’s possible the actual sample is only the few hundred or so similar women I’ve read or encountered on the interwebs. I was addressing men, too, of course, but my focus was on what the women had been saying. Society and the world are farther down on my to-do list.

  20. Word 🙂

    • It’s interesting to see HOW Gosling is objectified in the movies he stars in, especially Crazy, stupid, love. It’s so refreshing to see a scene with a hot man and a hot woman (Gosling/Stone) and it’s the man’s body that the camera makes a meal of (his arms and back and neck). I’m not sure that it’s good to fight objectification with objectification however I think that watching a movie like that gives men a little glimpse of how it feels to deal with objectification in pop culture every day. My sweetheart enjoyed CSLove, but there was a point in the movie where he whispered in my ear, “man, I gotta go to the gym.”. It made me laugh. I can’t remember the last time I saw a film and didn’t compare my body to the meticulously toned body of an actress at least once.

      After CSLove I wrote a blog post about objectifying Gosling too http://passionpoppistol.blogspot.com/2011/10/everything-i-need-to-know-about-love-i.html
      (sorry if linking is bad form but it is really relevant, not spamming for traffic.)


  1. […] of my big hits here at The Good Men Project was a piece called Objectifying Ryan Gosling… It was a reaction to a conversation that Tom Matlack and Marcus Williams were having about […]

  2. […] way? Those are the sorts of questions tackled recently by bloggers at The Daily Femme, Jezebel, The Good Men Project, and Salon. (See? At the forefront…) Unsurprisingly, most of these posts say no, women should […]

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