Is it sexist to objectify an awfully hot (male) cop?

There’s a bit of a phenomenon going on with a rather hot male cop in San Francisco, by the name of Chris Kohrs.

Officer Kohrs has become an online (and offline) favorite of gay men and straight women alike.

You see, Kohrs isn’t just packin‘ — he’s smokin‘. And people have noticed, in a big way.

He’s been labeled “The Hot Cop of Castro,” and the local news has covered him, Daily Beast just did a story on him, and he’s even got his own Facebook fan page, replete with a lot of awfully hot (and adorable) photos.

All of which got me wondering whether it wasn’t a bit unseemly that we were publicly objectifying some guy we didn’t even know. And while it’s one thing to think cops (or anyone else) are hot; saying it publicly, loudly and often, is an entirely different matter.

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Some have already raised the question of whether it would be appropriate to lavish this much attention on a female police officer. And no, it wouldn’t. Then again, we’d have to ask why that’s a problem. And I’d argue that it’s not simply a problem because it’s rude, generally, to reduce someone to their hotness.  The problem is actually that women have been objectified for millenia, and that objectification forms the basis of a lot of discrimination that women have faced over the ages.

hot-cop-of-castro

The question thus becomes whether objectification is per se bad, or whether it’s only bad when it’s used to oppress, or at least historically has been used in that way.

I’m reminded of when some white people argue that they can use the n-word because some blacks do too.  Or one of my favorites: “If they can have a Black Student Union, why can’t we have a white one?”  (Black Power and White Power also come to mind.)

I’m not 100% convinced, but I wonder sometimes if “innocent” admiration of someone else’s beauty is necessarily a bad thing, so long as it’s not tied to any kind of subjugation.  And one could simply look at the intent of the person making the compliment, but that’s not really enough.  I suspect lots of bosses who tell their secretary how hot she is mean it in a “good” way, but that doesn’t make it good.

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The same thing happened a while back when President Obama mentioned how attractive some woman was (wasn’t she an attorney general of some state?).  He quickly apologized.  While the President’s intent was congenial, it felt somehow wrong to take an accomplished woman and reduce her to her good looks.  Especially when, it’s argued, no one would do that to a man.

But we just did it to a man in San Francisco. So is it the same thing?  Is it just as offensive?  Or is it less offensive in this case because Officer Kohrs is being such a good sport about the whole thing? (Then again, the women of the Miss America Pageant are good sports about it as well. Does that make the entire affair any less distasteful?) And, is it less offensive because “everyone knows” that no one thinks of Kohrs as less of a cop because he’s hot?  Because men aren’t traditionally lessened by the perception of their beauty?

I freely admit to being a sinner in this regard. I know that, even as a gay man, I have to watch it when it comes to praising women for their beauty — though I have been known to approach a woman in a bar, let her know that I’m gay, but that I just had to let her know how strikingly beautiful she was. Was that wrong of me?  The women (though I’ve only had the nerve to say this to a handful) all beamed when receiving the compliment — I suspect because they understood that having removed the sexual element (I am gay, after all), the praise was truly a compliment.

Though when it comes to Officer Kohrs, I can’t claim the same objectivity of my objectification.

I sometimes wonder if my claiming that I can’t be sexist because I’m gay isn’t like an African-American who claims he can’t be racist because he’s black.  No sexual orientation or race has a get-out-of-jail free card when it comes to bias. We’re all susceptible to it. But is that what’s really going on here — subtle bias couched in sinful admiration?

Is it so wrong of me to think, let alone say, that this guy can drill my wall any time he wants?


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

Share This Post

  • MJ

    Personally, I’ve found LAPD to be the meanest.

  • MJ

    I don’t know if that’s a little bear or a Baby Chessie but….it is cute !!

  • MJ

    I’ll never accept anyone telling me I can’t objectify. Or any other emotion, reaction, or pleasurable reflecting which makes up the total that is me.

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  • Bookbinder

    I can’t see what’s so hot about him just based on the face shots. Eyes a bit too close, otherwise he looks just like everyone in my family.

  • bbock

    I think a lot of the comments made about him are rude, crude and yes, objectifying. And yes, attractive men are objectified. We use phrases like “pretty boy” to imply that his attractiveness is his only redeeming quality. In gay culture we have words like “twink” which also sets aside any other qualities but being young, skinny and attractive. This too is objectification. Other phrase: boy toy.

    You can’t compare it to Miss American and Miss Universe. Those women choose to enter a contest where their physical appearance is the most important aspect. When you enter a beauty contest, you are part of the objectification. That isn’t a problem.

    And just because he’s been a good sport about it, so what? If he were to say that he found it offensive to have people saying what they’d like him to do to them sexually or do to him, he’d be slammed for being too sensitive, or for being homophobic, or whatever. The woman at the office might be a good sport when someone tells her she has a body that won’t quit. But it doesn’t make it appropriate.

    I don’t think it’s wrong to appreciate his attractiveness. But it’s kinda icky to carry it so far as to suggest sexual acts. Where I think people went overboard is creating a Facebook page to extoll his physical appearance. That’s just gross of them.

  • future_man

    As long as he’s not virgin mary the police whore I’m fine with it.

  • Mike

    I am thrilled at your good fortune.

  • emjayay

    The relationships between sexes and between gay and straight have changed over the years. Itt’s not just the Male Gaze but the Female Gaze that is acknowleged not to mention the Gay Gaze. There are cop and fireman calenders, for god’s sake.

  • emjayay

    Yes, a number of times and NYPD as well. A couple bad experiences – and good – with SFPD several decades ago, and very positive ones with them more recently and with NYPD.

  • Mike

    emjayay – Have you ever had any personal physical contact with a member of the SFPD? I have. I stand by my statement.

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  • http://hunteratrandom.blogspot.com/ rmthunter

    10 points.

  • Ninong
  • Ninong

    He said he’s okay with it. In fact, he said he was happy with it.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Not at all. Cops are the enemy.

  • emjayay

    TV interview. He says he’s straight. And it’s apparently him in the nailing to the wall photo.

    Um, tall white button tufted headboard? Reeeeaaaaaly?

  • emjayay

    That’s ridiculous.

  • emjayay

    A bit of an over-generalization, isn’t that? And given the job they necessarily do for society, a lot of them aren’t necessarily the enemy. San Francisco cops are hardly generally the worst.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    I do too. (And have known contestants who were runners-up!) But they volunteer to be in that. If they don’t like it, they should stop participating. Note that they’ve moved the show to cable because most of America isn’t interested enough for NBC to bother with it.

  • http://hunteratrandom.blogspot.com/ rmthunter

    That’s a key point — the willing participation of the “object” makes all the difference, and it does turn it into a game, as you noted in your post.

  • http://hunteratrandom.blogspot.com/ rmthunter

    This sort of ties in with something I was just reading about symbols (in regard to Warren Ellis’ comics, no less): when someone becomes a symbol — Elvis, Superman, JFK, whoever — they’re being objectified. (Advertising relies on this heavily, and think about our reactions to celebrities in general.) To some people, the very idea of objectification is horrific (along with a lot of other perfectly normal human behaviors), but it’s something we do almost automatically: we deal in generalities because that’s the only way we can deal with populations. It can be destructive when the generalities take the place of the specifics — turning any individual into an object is not a good thing. We stereotype new acquaintances — this is Psych 101: we try to fit new things into a framework of what we already know. New people only become individuals as we learn more about them, as the specifics of who they are replace the generalities of our picture of the group they belong to.

    It’s when we don’t make that transition from generalities to specifics that we run into trouble. The “objectification of women” is a case in point, because it denies their individuality. Sadly, in a society that historically has embodied an extreme form of patriarchy, this is all too common.

    In this case, it looks as though Officer Kohrs is maintaining his individuality in a big way, and I’m not really sure that “objectifying” is the right way to characterize the phenomenon — he’s only partly a symbol.

    (Sidebar: he is cute, in a Chris Hemsworth sort of way, but I’m really into cheekbones.)

  • TheOriginalLiz

    I think I actually purred when I looked at that picture….

  • TheOriginalLiz

    When I was in the Navy I suspected it was because the straight guys were afraid they would be treated the way they treat women.

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  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    That’s too bad. I have said guys were hot many times, and no one bitch slapped me. Look at the thread about the kittens with baby bottles. John wanted to climb a guy (not that I blamed him). i guess you were just unlucky.

    Is it really important if he’s gay or straight? I have seen people discussing whether Hugh Jackman was gay or straight. I couldn’t care less. I like looking at him and fantasizing about him, but I’m certain that he doesn’t have me in his contacts.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    I really can’t see what is wrong with being objectified. Those memories are wonderful in your autumn and winter years.

  • http://wicca.com/celtic/wicca/wicca.htm Colin

    Oh My ! Hello.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Cops are the enemy.

  • keirmeister

    This cop is running with his newfound fame, so “objectifying” him is in this case makes it a game – a game he is encouraging. In this context, his skills as a cop are incidental.

    But I’ll just add, you want to see hot cops? Visit Provincetown during the busy season.

  • nicho

    Here’s another story about it. He’s perfectly fine with it and says he’s flattered by the attention.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2687745/Move-Hot-felon-Jeremy-Meeks-San-Francisco-cop-movie-star-looks-global-sensation-photos-viral-Facebook.html

  • Thom Allen

    Agree. It could make an interesting article. He seems to be flattered by being put on a (sexual) pedestal. But I haven’t read anything where anyone has actually interviewed him re: how he likes being lionized, do his supervisors bitch at him because he spends work time letting people take pics of him, does the adulation get old, does it interfere with him doing his job, does he think that it’s sexist, etc.

  • nicho

    Years ago, I had a straight friend who told me he’d like to go to a gay bar to see what it was like, but he was afraid people would start hitting on him. I looked at him and said “Yeah, that’s not going to happen.”

  • woodroad34

    From what I could read (from another article about him) is that he thinks it’s a bit of a hoot. He seems very easy about gays having the hots for him. As for objectification, I think it’s up to the individual being objectified; the only problem about being objectified is when real-life runs into the objectification and the world becomes disillusioned (he’s not as tall, he’s not really all that “packing”, he has a mean streak, etc.) It’s how crushes and new love affairs go.

  • caphillprof

    Look at me, look at me; don’t look at me, don’t look at me; I’m being objectified, I’m not being objectified; I’m a sexual being; I don’t want to be a sexual being; but you are Blanche, but you are.

  • caphillprof

    Maybe, but I think many are afraid that they won’t make the cut.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Day-um! He’s a hawtie.

  • Indigo

    and the white orchids and the not-all-that-butch step ladder :)

  • nicho

    I would treat him to cocktails and dinner — at my place.

  • nicho

    Look at the nightstand. Look at the headboard. He’s hanging a drapery over it.

  • JayRandal

    Whenever I have committed on here about some guy being handsome I got bitch slapped. Since he is a cop hence I am personally not attracted to him. A tad too beefy for me. Is the guy Straight or Gay? Only question in my opinion worth an answer.

  • BloggerDave

    That is an excellent idea…

  • BloggerDave

    It all depends on how you would treat him or her in person….

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Agree. Damn he’s a good sport.

  • cminca

    John–honestly–send him your piece and do an interview.
    It could be fascinating.

  • nicho

    When you pose for the cover of People Magazine, you’ve gone beyond being “just a public servant.”

  • Elijah Shalis

    Jon Hamm is a public actor. This cop is just a public servant at this point.

  • atalex

    I have often thought that the single biggest reason for entrenched homophobia among straight men is that they all assume that gays look at them the way they look at women and their offended at the thought of being treated that way.

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    The definitions of “isms/ists” (racism, sexism) implies that the person being objectified is not in a position of power, so no. White males are still in power in this country, so it’s not sexism. However, if it bothers him and he asks people to stop then it’s just rude. Doesn’t look like he’s bothered by it.

  • nicho

    I don’t mind people talking about my incredibly big penis. I just don’t want them making jokes about it.

  • nicho

    Not everyone has the time or inclination to be offended by every, real, imagined, or invented slight. However, we’re lucky that there are people willing to take up the slack and who start their day trying to figure out how they can be offended.

  • nicho

    I read a quote many years back, where an older woman was giving advice to a younger woman. She said, “My dear, women have been throwing their underwear at dangerous men for centuries.” We can probably amend that to read “women and gay men.”

  • Indigo

    I’ll wait for the swimsuit competition before commenting.

  • Strepsi

    @ nicho: it’s like Jon Hamm, who has been whining about all the jokes being made about how you can see how hung he is. His complaints get ZERO sympathy lol.

  • dcinsider

    “offended by proxy” I love that!

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    Does he mind? If so, we should stop. If not, it’s not an issue. The only person whose opinion matters is this individual. Some people get off on the attention. (And honestly, no one spends that much time in the gym unless they want people to notice they spent that much time in the gym.) I’m sick of people being offended by proxy. I can see how a little of this might be fun but a lot might be embarrassing. It’s for him to decide how much is too much, not everyone else on his behalf.

  • Hue-Man

    We’re not all as incredibly good-looking as you, John, so we wouldn’t feel comfortable approaching beautiful people to compliment them! We also wouldn’t be in this policeman’s situation of having people tell us we’re hot. Maybe you should undertake some field-work to find out his reaction to this attention.

    In this instance, I think the better comparison is with firefighters who pose for calendars – for charity, they say. I don’t believe men are any less vain than women. I’m sure the firefighters are fully aware that gay men are enjoying the pictorial passing of the months.

    On a slightly more serious note, there are cultural differences of what constitutes physical beauty. When I worked on the East Coast, my preference for Nordic types did not meet my co-workers definition of beauty – they definitely preferred the Mediterranean type.

  • nicho

    I thought of that, but we don’t really know if that’s really, really him. However, I do volunteer to go and find out what he looks like half naked from the back.

  • nicho

    I just looked at the Facebook page. In all those photos, he’s posing for the camera. He knows this site is there and he seems more than willing to be “objectified,” whatever the hell that means. He’s enjoying his 15 minutes of fame — and more power to him. It’s not like people are taking candid shots of him going about his business.

  • caphillprof

    Unless the boudoir photo was leaked by the NSA, CIA or FBI, I’d say it answers all of your questions.

  • nicho

    I’m with you. I just absolutely hate it when people say I’m good looking and smoking hot.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    But as I just added in my story, the women of Miss America aren’t offended by their objectification. I still find the entire event rather unseemly.

  • joshyelon

    Interesting research:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/04/08/pretty_politics_female_politicians_can_lose_elections_when_the_media_focuses.html

    The research shows that when news articles write about a female politician’s looks, it hurts their electoral chances. This research is interesting because elections are probably the canary in the coal mine when it comes to bias – elections are probably more susceptible to bias than any other kind of hiring.

    Does this apply to cops? Does writing articles about a cop being hot hurt his chances of getting good jobs in the future? I don’t know.

  • nicho

    Tempest, meet Teapot. Have fun.

  • HereinDC

    It’s better than that convict’s mug shot that just about everybody went ga ga a few weeks ago.

  • dcinsider

    Agreed. It’s not offensive if he’s not offended, but as a general rule, it tends to border on creepy and is best avoided.

  • Elijah Shalis

    I do not think it is right unless he is okay with it. He is not a model or actor or politician or ceo.

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