Games of Thrones actor Kit Harington was the subject of ridicule last week, after speaking up about sexism in the entertainment industry.
“There’s definitely a sexism in our industry that happens towards women, and there is towards men as well,” he told the the Sunday Times. “At some points during photoshoots when I’m asked to strip down, I felt that.”
Yes, Harington – he of shredded six-pack, impeccable hair fame – doesn’t like being objectified. He even said: “If I felt I was being employed just for my looks, I’d stop acting.”
My first reaction on seeing the story was a creeping sense of cringe. Not just for Kit, but for all mankind. There’s nothing quite like a man claiming to be a victim of sexism to make us all sound like a bunch of ignorant, out-of-touch cry-babies.
But then I thought again: why is that? Why aren’t men ‘allowed’ to speak up about sexism and objectification?
It’s not the first time Harington has broached the issue. Last year he told the New York Post, “To always be put on a pedestal as a hunk is slightly demeaning.” He backed down after the inevitable criticism, saying “I’m going to be a good little hunk and shut up from now on.”
Now, he’s facing a similar backlash – by which I mean snarky types on Twitter, male and female, have laid into him, have made the predictable retort: “You know nothing, Jon Snow”.
Some have criticised him for confusing sexism with objectification (a stellar way to belittle and divert from the real issue); others have given him a figurative sword to the gut for daring to equate sexism against men to that which women face on a daily basis.
This is, of course, a source of major tension between the sexes, particularly on social media, where women are often accused of ignoring or shutting men down when it comes to issues of sexism. (Indeed, whenever the Telegraph Women’s section runs anything on sexual harassment against women, a slew of male voices ask why the same is rarely reported for men).
And on some level it’s ludicrous for TV’s most smouldering heartthrob to say he’s felt a victim of sexism (especially as most of men would kill for that six-pack and whip it out at every opportunity). But he’s right. Of course sexism against men exists. And of course it happens in the workplace – whether that’s a film set or an office.
I hate to be one of those point-scoring contrarians who says, “if it was the other way around” – but it’s true?