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Jameson Empire Awards 2015
Kit Harington attends the Jameson Empire Awards 2015 at Grosvenor House, on March 29, 2015 in London, England.  John Phillips—Getty Images for Jameson

Kit Harington Has a Point About Women Objectifying Men

Mar 31, 2015

Jon Snow may know nothing — but Kit Harington, the actor who plays him on Game of Thrones, had some thought-provoking insights into the way the media objectifies male actors.

"To always be put on a pedestal as a hunk is slightly demeaning," Harington told Page Six Monday. "It really is and it's in the same way as it is for women. When an actor is seen only for her physical beauty, it can be quite offensive."

"It's not just men that can be inappropriate sexually; women can as well. I'm in a successful TV show in a kind of leading-man way, and it can sometimes feel like your art is being put to one side for your sex appeal. And I don't like that," Harington continued. "In this position, you get asked a lot, 'Do you like being a heartthrob? Do you like being a hunk?' Well, my answer is, 'That's not what I got into it for.'"

Harington has a point. Because we often think of sexism as something that only impacts female actors, a double standard exists in Hollywood. It would be a faux pas for a journalist to ask a woman how she feels about being a sex object — one that sadly some still commit. But some male actors are constantly asked what it's like to be a heartthrob or — slightly more subtly — what it's like to have thousands of young teen girls as fans. The implication here is, "You are famous because people want to have sex with you."

This question is posed to stars like Benedict Cumberbatch, Channing Tatum and Taylor Kitsch on a regular basis, and it's a difficult one because I suspect these men cannot answer honestly without angering their fan base. (Cumberbatch is the master of artfully dodging that question by refocusing the conversation on how the term "Cumberbitch" is demeaning.)

And there are worse offenses, like the endless number of articles and Tumblr accounts dedicated to the bulge in Jon Hamm's pants. Hamm's response: "I'm wearing pants, for f-ck's sake. Lay off."

There's no question that women face egregious sexism on a daily basis, from the wage gap to reporters asking female actors about their dresses rather than their work on the red carpet. Compared with these issues, Harington's complaint might seem trivial. And of course, part of the job description of being a movie star is being beautiful. Objectification comes with the territory, and it's hard to muster sympathy for someone who seems to have it all.

But journalists who interview Harington, and the people who read those articles, can hear his request, think about it and try to respect it. As the most common victims of sexism, women ought to know better than anyone how terrible it feels. And though it's tempting to even the scales by caring as little about men's feelings as misogynists care about women's feelings, that attitude doesn't help to stop misogyny or advance feminism.

Gender equality is about pulling everyone up, not pushing others down. So it's worth remembering that it feels terrible to have your work ignored because of your looks — no matter your gender.

HBO's "Game Of Thrones" Season 5 - San Francisco Premiere
Steve Jennings—WireImage/Getty Images

Emilia Clarke

Daenerys is perhaps the show’s signature character, cut off from the crowded main action in Westeros and thus better able to own each and every one of her scenes. She’s going to bring her charisma and surprising power to bear upon the Terminator universe as iconic heroine Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys, due out July 1. But Clarke will also show off her more emotive side in Me Before You, an adaptation of Jojo Moyes’s romantic novel currently in development.

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Murray Close—Lionsgate

Natalie Dormer

One of Game of Thrones’s most eye-catching supporting characters, Margaery Tyrell approaches the world with a keen sense of strategy. The actress who plays her is as sophisticated when it comes to climbing to the top of Hollywood’s heap: She got attention for her drastic haircut for the the third installment of The Hunger Games franchise, and will return as propaganda videographer Cressida in this fall’s concluding film. She’s also signed on for the promising zombie flick Patient Zero, from Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky, whose The Counterfeiters won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Dormer has a nose for great collaborators: Recent projects of hers have included Ridley Scott’s The Counselor and Ron Howard’s Rush.

NBC's "66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards" - Arrivals
Kevork Djansezian—NBC/Getty Images

Lena Headey

Headey’s pre-Game of Thrones résumé was impressive: Like Clarke, she played Skynet’s adversary (in Fox’s TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), and had been the female lead in 300. But Headey’s role in the long-gestating Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, in which she’ll be joined by TV dad Charles Dance, might be the project to push her to a new level of fan adulation.

San Francisco Premiere Of HBO's "Game Of Thrones" Season 5 - Arrivals
C Flanigan—Getty Images

Peter Dinklage

Like Headey, Dinklage had a long career before he joined George R. R. Martin’s universe. But the recognition he’s obtained for his performance as Tyrion Lannister surely helped drive fans to see his villainous turn in 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. He presently has six projects in various stages of development, including this year’s Adam Sandler would-be summer smash Pixels and the animated adaptation of the game Angry Birds.

HBO's "Game Of Thrones" Season 5 - San Francisco Premiere
Steve Jennings—WireImage/Getty Images

Sophie Turner

Like her TV husband Tyrion, the actress who plays Sansa Stark is joining the X-Men cinematic universe; she’ll be playing the young Jean Grey in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse. She’s also been announced as the titular Frankenstein novelist in the gothic drama Mary Shelley’s Monster.

San Francisco Premiere Of HBO's "Game Of Thrones" Season 5 - Arrivals
C Flanigan—Getty Images

Gwendoline Christie

Standing over six feet tall, Christie has attracted much praise since she entered the Game of Thrones fray as the fearsome Brienne of Tarth. Her next moves are as likely to garner attention, and as action-packed: She’s to appear as a rebellion leader in the final Hunger Games film, and as an unspecified character in the newest installment of Star Wars. Both are due out this holiday season.

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