The Sexualization Of Harry Styles: Arguments For And Against

There has been a little drama in the world of One Direction recently regarding the sexualization of Harry Styles, arguably the best-known member of the band.

Some One Direction lovers are upset by what they see as the continued and relentless "sexualization" of Harry Styles in the media. In this two part article, we outline some of the arguments "for" and some of the arguments "against" Harry's sexualization.

Arguments For

There is no harm in appreciating an attractive individual, even if that person does not "bat for your team."

For example, the very straight Liam Payne has a huge gay following, straight women are encouraged to shamelessly ogle Ricky Martin, straight guys love Portia Di Rossi. Nobody gets offended by this or considers it insulting in any way.

So why is the sexualization of Harry offensive to 1D fans? "Larry" rumors aside, it may have something to do with the role boy bands play as fantasy figures that allow young women to explore their sexual feelings in a non-threatening way (remember that Simpsons episode where Lisa was reading a magazine called "Non-theatening Boys"?).

To see Harry sexualized too often or too graphically/explicitly may come as a shock to younger One Direction fans who see Harry as a pal, kindly brother figure, or indeed, as Louis Tomlinson's gay lover.

Harry does not seem to mind too much

Fans insist that Harry is not a bedhopper/womanizer and the media should stop labelling him as such.

In this interview with Jonathan Ross, Harry even walks offstage when Ross makes a "bedhopper" joke. However, when Harry sits down again he does not seem upset, he looks rather amused. At 1:30, while Niall is talking, we get a good shot of Harry's face -- Harry's eyes are shining and his lips are pursed in amusement.

The ripped heartthrob is clearly asking for it with all those chest-flashing unbuttoned shirts

Harry is happy to show off his fit upper body in all those unbuttoned shirts and tricep-flashing t-shirts he always wears. Harry works hard to maintain his fit physique, as this video of Harry at the gym demonstrates.

Of course, it is possible that Harry exercises strictly for the health benefits, and not so that he will look fit and attractive. However, if he was really worried about people ogling, he would probably take an extra three seconds to button up his shirts.

While we are not suggesting that Harry is "asking" to be sexualized, again, he does not seem too mind too much.

It is naive to try to suggest that the fit young One Direction guys are asexual, flawless angels who are only interested in singing and charity work. It also infantilizes them -- they are men now

The arguments about the sexualisation of Harry and 1D almost always take the form of a rant that they are such "nice guys" and do not deserve it. Fans have been upset when Harry was labelled as a flirt and heartbreaker and painted as a pursuer of older women following his short relationship with 32-year-old Caroline Flack.

If certain people have been upset because Harry broke up with them, it does not mean he is a bad person, and media outlets who report on the breakup are not necessarily implying that he is a bad person. It is a reality of adult life that sometimes relationships don't work out, and to argue that Harry's life is "never" touched by this reality is to paint him as a perfect figure, indeed, as a saint. While Harry definitely seems like a nice person, he is human and is bound to hurt a few people in the course of his life, as everyone does.

Harry's new PR agency is sex-positive and on a mission to cater to the female gaze, so we may as well get used to the sexualization of Harry

Unreality TV is reporting that Styles has just signed with a new PR agency: Dawbell.

The Dawbell agency also represents Pharrell Williams, 5SOS and James Corden, who did the One Direction carpool karaokes.

If you click on the Dawbell "News" section, you will see that their most recent post is called "Why Music Videos Need More Nude Men."

The post links to a Guardian article about female sexuality and representations of men in music videos. The writer declares that "she wants more bulges and erections and fewer taboos" on MTV and similar channels. She also celebrates the pleasures of "watching men in all forms, free, relaxed, sexy and objectified."

The argument is that women are already objectified/sexualized relentlessly in music videos and it is time for directors to showcase male bodies in a way that breaks boundaries and gets people to question their assumptions.

The fact that Harry has signed with this agency suggests that he agrees with their philosophy. This is not surprising, either -- Harry is a self-declared feminist, a supporter of gay rights, a lover of taboo-shattering works of art, and the son and sister of sassy, outspoken women.

Whether fans like it or not, the sexy One Direction star has just signed with an agency that will encourage him to pursue projects where his hot body will be used to make a political statement.

Tomorrow: Arguments Against The Sexualization Of Harry Styles

[Photo by Vantage News/IPx]