By MADHURA NADARAJAH
Millennials are constantly being chewed by older generations for their lack of interest when it comes to the news, whether it be local, national, or world news. The “older generation” claims that millennials are too focused on themselves due to the growing popularity of social media. Nevertheless, millennials fought back and proved that social media can have a positive impact on society. A prime example of this is the online news-sharing media hit, Buzzfeed.
Buzzfeed launched in 2006 (around the same time Facebook and Twitter were hitting the scene) with the hopes of being the top online source of “breaking news,” whether it be related to politics, world affairs or entertainment. Millennials are proud of Buzzfeed because it exemplifies the younger generation using social media to make a positive impact. In this case, Buzzfeed’s attractive media stories make it easy for millennials to share news stories on various social media platforms. The most impactful feature that Buzzfeed has to offer is the authentic and relatable views of the writers. Simply put, most millennials reading a Buzzfeed article agree that the point of view is genuine, unlike many other online news media that have a pseudo-relatable quality to them. But what happens when Buzzfeed — an online news outlet that millennials rely on — continuously commits a heinous crime? What happens when the respect millennials are finally gaining goes out the door?
The crime that Buzzfeed continuously commits is hypocrisy in regards to the topic of human rights. Specifically, Buzzfeed rejects sexually objectifying women yet they still sexually objectify men all the time. Webster’s defines objectification as the act of “treating a person as a commodity or an object without regard to their personality or dignity.” Understandably, Buzzfeed urges the war against sexual objectification of women, which I am in no shape nor form complaining about. It is a universal understanding that women of any race, creed, and socioeconomic groups are the number one targets of sexual objectification and experience it daily. It is not Buzzfeed’s lack of discussion of the sexual objectification towards men that is the problem. In fact, it is Buzzfeed’s direct (and sometimes prideful) sexual objectification of men.
From their countdown of the sexiest bulges, butts, or overall physical appeal, Buzzfeed sexually objectifies men tirelessly. For example, there are two popular Buzzfeed articles, one from December 2015 and the other from May 2014, that showcase a list of what the Buzzfeed writers deem to be the sexiest bulges. Both articles went out without a hitch. If the Buzzfeed articles were to feature countdown of the “sexiest, NSFW” of celebrity breasts, they would probably be in the gutter immediately. Most recently, Buzzfeed featured a quiz that asked the player to guess which butt belonged to what actor. The February 2016 quiz did use film stills in which male actors consensually depicted their rear ends, but the artistic meaning behind the naked bum was dispelled when Buzzfeed sexually objectified the butts by featuring them in a quiz. If this quiz were to feature a female’s bust or even their butts in such an objectifying way, Buzzfeed would be under fire.
“While Buzzfeed likes to portray itself as the pinnacle of progressiveness, men are whittled down to their penis size, height, and income,” said senior writing major Antoinette Jones. “These comments are treated like A+ joke material. Feminism is about seeing everyone as people and equal treatment. Objectification has no place in that.”
Opponents might dare to state that Buzzfeed’s objectification of men is not a serious matter, but rather “girl talk” of men that should not be taken seriously. Buzzfeed put out an article in 2014 listing 15 times that they sexually objectified men during the world soccer championship. The article seemed satirical and carried a tone as if Buzzfeed was doing readers a favor by objectifying men. Others might argue that women, unlike men, are more likely to become victims as a byproduct of sexual objectification. I am here to state that because a specific human rights problem (in this case male sexual objectification) occurs in lower volumes compared to other human right problems, it should not be erased from the discussion. Humans should unify to fight injustice. This lack of morale on Buzzfeed’s part poses two predicaments in relation to millennials. The first is that millennials lose trust in an online media outlet and perhaps start to believe the negative babble the older generations spit at millennials. The second dilemma is that many millennials trust Buzzfeed and might view the sexual objectification of men as girl talk. Hopefully, the Buzzfeed team wakes up and realizes their follies, if they do they will not only be empowering millennials, but also giving a voice to the voiceless.