Why sexualising young female actors is less weird than sexualising young male ones

So I’ve just recently read a post on ‘The Debrief’, an online magazine about Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson: http://www.thedebrief.co.uk/2014/10/daniel-radcliffe-explains-the-unfair-difference-between-him-and-emma-watson#.VFDkLOz46K0

The article is about how sexualising Emma Watson when she was only 14 didn’t seem strange, yet now Daniel Radcliffe is in his twenties we still seem uncomfortable seeing him do sex scenes or naming him in some ‘hot celebrity’ list.

And I believe I may have an idea as to why this is, and it basically boils down to stereotypical gender norms.

So most (and not all, certainly not discounting the lesbians or bisexuals or others out there) of the people sexualising Emma would have been guys, at least a significant majority. Now we already know from media and probably the guys we know ourselves that the people of the male persuasion tend to think that one main attribute that they look for in women is sexiness (Numerous YouTube comments and so on like ‘how will that attract a man?’ Or magazine articles like ‘top ten articles of clothing women wear that mean hate’ back this up) and and they tend to assume that one of women’s
biggest worries are how they look to guys. Not that we have anything else to worry about or anything, but I digress.

So we know this exists in a big way in men, so men sexualising women almost seems like a given. I myself have had conversations with other women much older than me about how it should just be accepted that men think about sex a lot. But, on the other hand, the people most likely sexualising Daniel Radcliffe would be women. And we’re, as a gender, much less likely to sexualise boys younger than us, which is how most people still see Daniel Radcliffe from his Harry Potter days.

Now this raises another, probably bigger issue: why is is not strange and almost paedophillic to sexualise a young girl under the age of consent and yet it is almost unheard of to do this to a young boy? Why are we less worried about this affecting young girls?

Or maybe it isn’t even that, it could just be that we see women sexualising others as so rare in comparison to men that, when women do it, it is taken much more seriously. As though we are not just saying ‘hey, this guy is good looking’ we are saying ‘I would like a relationship with him’ which is where everyone else draws a big thick line.

However men sexualising young women is so…almost normal that we see it as trivial and nothing serious. Yes they are sexualising her but it’s not like they would actually DO anything about it. Just boys being boys, it’s what they do… Whatever.

So there’s this big gender gap, which now, rather than being cute or trivial, is actually affecting the careers of boy actors who want to grow up and be taken seriously.

I think two things should be done:
1- we need to stop being so okay with the sexualisation of young women and the absurd normality of it all
2- get a little more comfortable with boy actors growing up and turning into men. The female gender may be pigeonholed into ‘mothers’ a lot without even having to have had kids first but we don’t need to keep perpetuating the stereotype of mothers not being able to let go of their ‘little boys’ and let these people grow up.


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