It appears Kit Harington (Game of Thrones, Testament of Youth) has something to say on the issue of sexism within the media. In an interview with the Sunday Times, Harington described how he liked to think of himself as “more than a head of hair or set of looks” and said, “in some ways you could argue I’ve been employed for a look I have. But there’s a sexism that happens towards men. There’s definitely a sexism in our industry that happens towards women, and there is towards men as well… At some points during photo shoots when I’m asked to strip down, I felt that.”

Feminist blog Jezebel pointed out: “I think what he is actually describing is feeling objectified, which certainly isn’t a phenomenon belonging to a single gender.” So much is true, and his comments have attracted a great deal of ridicule from the internet. Indeed, what Harington is attempting to point out does exist, but not quite in the way he suggests.

I am, of course, not doubting for a second that attractive young white men face countless challenges at the hands of the media, but I fear Harington has somewhat missed the point. Is what he describes not something women have been experiencing since the dawn of time itself? And the fact remains that people enjoy looking at good-looking people, regardless of their gender. That is not to say that objectification isn’t wrong – quite the opposite – but I would be loath to suggest that without his good looks Harington would face unemployment. This is, of course, the problem many female actors face within the media: you must be attractive. If you are not, then you will be employed based on this fact, into roles requiring a slightly less conventionally beautiful face.

So women are objectified, men are objectified. But which can we say are affected most by this, outside of the demeaning photo shoots Harington describes? One could argue that that is in fact the point of photo shoots – to take your picture in the manner deemed most appealing to those who will inevitably view it, and, to reiterate my previous point, if a person is attractive, people want to see as much of that person as is possible. We see this constantly with the male gaze, as woman are depicted with needlessly few clothes in order to sell us cars, soap, and perfume, none of which would immediately draw connotations of nudity. This is not an issue purely with the portrayal of women; we see chiselled men enticing us to purchase more products that don’t really need a six pack to demonstrate their value.

So yes, Harington makes a point which is about 50% valid; he’s asked to take his clothes off to be gawked at for no good reason and this is wrong. It’s no way to treat a human being. But it’s not new, or unusual; it happens everywhere, all the time, to a great number of people. But on the other hand, at least he’s been given the opportunities he has in the first place, which unfortunately can not be said by all women in similar positions, as we can see by the scenes dominated by white males off screen and, indeed, on.