An Open Letter To Jon Hamm: This One Isn’t About Your Penis

You heard me.  I don’t care about your penis.  I haven’t looked at a recent picture of the cock outline in your pants or read any joke anyone has made about your junk.

I’m writing this because I think it’s shitty of you to exercise your right to say, “stop that!” without acknowledging those of us to whom nobody listens when we say the same thing.  I’m talking about women.

I think Slate said it best: “Jon Hamm Is Being Treated Like an Actress. He Hates It.”

Yes.  Jon Hamm, you’re going through the same thing your female counterparts are forced to endure, except with you, there’s a twist: when you ask people to stop, someone is listening to you.  Someone stands up for you.

I mean, shit.  Rolling Stone—a huge, reputable and powerful news organization—is covering your discomfort.  They wrote about you being mad that people keep making dick jokes.  Holy shit, man.  Rolling Stone has your back.  Nobody can touch you anymore.

Where is this protection for the women in Hollywood?  Where is this protection for women in general?

Anne Hathaway went on the Today Show and gracefully expressed her opinion of paparazzi sticking their cameras up women’s skirts.  She described it as “(commodifying) the sexuality of unwilling participants.”  Who was there to back her up besides a few feminist bloggers and minor news organizations?

Who’s backing you up, Jon Hamm?  Some of the most powerful news organizations in the world.  Rolling Stone.  ABC NewsNew York Daily News.  Everyone can see the ethical issue behind disrespecting your penis.  But respecting any part of any woman’s body, or a woman herself?  Somehow nobody big is reporting on this.

And who backed up the dozens of other women whose vaginas were photographed during moments of vulnerability?  Who had Lindsay Lohan’s back? Rihanna’s?  Britney Spears’?  Paris Hilton’s?  I’d name some news organizations who helped them out, but I can’t; there weren’t any.

As a journalism student, I understand the uniqueness factor in stories; that is, when something rare happens, we tend to put more emphasis on it than something that happens frequently.  It’s so infrequent that a man is over-sexualized that when this happened to you and you complained, everyone jumped at the chance to report on it.

Your reservations about being sexually harassed are validified by every major news organization because it is so rare that men are made uncomfortable as a result of having a body.  You get protection that women do not because your story is so different and therefore is deemed newsworthy.

Women are sexually harassed so frequently that reporting on this every time it happens would get old quickly.  Still, news organizations holding this viewpoint means that we ignore women saying they’re offended by being over-sexualized.  This lends to everyone the idea that when something happens en masse, it’s totally fine.

It’s not fine.

It means that when a woman says, “stop objectifying me,” she is ignored; it means that while she does have a voice, nobody is listening to her; and it means that the mass sexual harassment of women will continue because nobody sees this as a problem.  How could they see it as a problem if no news organization with a large following is reporting it as being a problem?

So, Mr. Hamm, I don’t care about the part of your body that you think everyone else is obsessing over.  I care that you are afforded a privilege that women are not: validation when you say “no.”  And I’m pissed.

If you get to stand up for yourself and get support for it, you need to think about the women around you who don’t get their backs covered from every angle when they ask people to stop taking pictures of their genitals.  I’m sure a story about you standing up for women who are objectified by the media would get you just as much positive attention as you complaining about people making dick jokes about you.

13 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Jon Hamm: This One Isn’t About Your Penis”

  1. It’s interesting to see him cry to the media about the public knowing what he’s packing because I’ve met Jon Hamm and he’s a very nice, seemingly sensible guy. But when I heard that he was whining about basically being “objectified”, my first thought was “Please tell me all about your pain, right straight white male actor.”

  2. Who “backed up” Ann hathaway besides ” few feminist bloggers and minor news organizations?” Well that’s not true. A qucik google will prove you wrong there.

    And what the hell do you mean by “backing up?” The companies you list are just reporting on what Jon Hamm said, just like many organizations reported on what Hathaway said.

    The Today Show has a much larger Audience than Rolling Stone Magazine.

    That whole part of this article was stupid.

    1. She might have gotten coverage, but most of it was nothing more than 30 second segment, where they questioned her viability and most of the time, it turns into a “well, that’s what happens when you’re famous” discussion. Further more, Hathaway is one of the only women who have spoken out. Most of the reason she gets coverage is because she’s a rich, attractive, white woman.

      I would appreciate if you wrote to our writers with respect. We will all take the time to answer you with respect, also. This is a safe space.

  3. Can I suggest that this editorial maybe misses the mark a bit?

    I think it’d be absolutely on point to criticize the media for giving more coverage, or prominence, to Hamm’s complaints while disregarding or not taking seriously the culture of objectification that regularly and often puts women into similar situations. I don’t think it’s constructive to go after Hamm for complaining about his own objectification in the first place, or for not being entirely on message while he does it.

    Does the media have an opportunity here to use Hamm’s story as a springboard to discuss objectification at large, and the way it vastly affects women? Yes. Should they be doing that? ABSOLUTELY YES! And if the editorial had focused on that, I wouldn’t be writing this right now. But there need be no precondition, no equivocation, to express displeasure as Hamm has. Attacking him for the imbalance in coverage rather than the media (or suggesting he’s “whining”, as one commenter appears to have done) feels less like it’s challenging the actual people and culture behind this problem, and more like it’s perpetuating it by blaming someone on the receiving end.

    The culture you’re discussing absolutely need to be discussed more, the way it treats women needs to be acknowledged more, and it needs to be changed. Still when someone is uncomfortable with the way their body is being discussed or treated, I don’t think it’s ever “shitty” for anyone (male or female) to say “stop it” for any reason. NOBODY who complains about their own personal objectification, about their own harassment, should be told they’re whining, should be told they’re being “shitty,” for not doing it right.

    (If I can make a more personal admission here, I am a guy, and I have been sexually assaulted. Part of the reason I’m afraid to discuss it with some people is because I’m afraid this is what I’ll be told. That I’m being “shitty” for taking attention away from others. That I’m “whining” when other people have real problems to face.

    I very much consider myself a feminist and I’m absolutely aware that western cultures of objectification more often hurt and oppress women, but on an individual level, it needs to be acknowledged that both women and men can be hurt by such thinking, and that it is never wrong for someone who’s been hurt to come forward on this, no matter who they are.)

    1. I did not write this editorial, but I think that this article does state that the problem is not in Jon Hamm’s disapproval of being objectified. The problem is that he does not better articulate WHY being objectified is wrong.
      When someone stands up for the respect of their body, they are (usually unintentionally) standing up for anyone’s (male or female) body who has been disrespected. In his editorial in Rolling Stone, it appears as though he is stating that he is the only one that this happens to, and that is why it is wrong. He has a strong voice, that is being heard, and I believe the writer of this piece feels as though he should acknowledge that privilege.

      1. “The problem is that he does not better articulate WHY being objectified is wrong.”
        “In his editorial in Rolling Stone, it appears as though he is stating that he is the only one that this happens to, and that is why it is wrong.”

        I agree with you entirely in both regards! And the editorial as well. However, such a distinction is not clearly made. (At one point the author feels the need to say “I don’t care about the part of your body that you think everyone else is obsessing over,” as if to suggest Hamm only “thinks” his objectification is real,or that the complaints themselves stem from some sort of egocentricity. Maybe that’s not what was intended, but the wording there suggests it pretty heavily.) The fact that Hamm has this privilege, and this massive platform to raise awareness of the broader context, and isn’t doing so, is definitely worth criticizing. But if that’s the true point of the article, it needs to be made clearer that the legitimacy of the complaints themselves aren’t what’s being challenged.

  4. (Also, I’m totally fine with my comment being public. I just chose this screen name because the parenthetical statement at the end is a bit personal and I’d rather keep my own identity as private as possible).

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