Actor Kit Harington gave an infamous interview in 2016 in which he complained about the phenomenon of “sexism towards men”. Harington, who plays Jon Snow in Game of Thrones, said that there was a little-discussed “double standard” in the TV and film industries - because attractive, famous men sometimes experience objectification too.
“If you said to a girl, ‘Do you like being called a babe?’ and she said, ‘No, not really,’ she’d be absolutely right,” Harington told The Sunday Times.
However, he added that while he liked “to think of myself as more than a head of hair or a set of looks”, he had to stoically endure being typecast and objectified as a result of his appearance.
“There’s definitely a sexism in our industry that happens towards women, and there is towards men as well,” said Harington. “At some points during photoshoots when I’m asked to strip down, I felt that.”
These remarks didn’t go down too well at the time, with many people observing that the light objectification of male actors isn’t quite as serious a problem as the endemic sexual harassment, underpayment, body-shaming and professional exclusion faced by women in TV and film. (One notable analysis of Harington’s comments came from Six Feet Under actress Patricia Clarkson, who said: “A white male actor should never be allowed to complain about anything. Shut up and sit in the corner.”)
Now, Harington has revised his original comments, telling The Guardian that he now regrets his choice of words when discussing “sexism towards men”.
“I was wrong there,” he said. “Sexism against men is not something I should have really said. I think what I meant was, being objectified.
“At the time, I did feel objectified, and now I’ve learned to control that.”
While he still believes men can be objectified (and, of course, he’s not wrong about that), Harington said he now understands that there is a difference between objectification and systematic sexism.
“I do feel I have been objectified in the past, sexually as well, in pieces that have been written about me,” he said. “Has that made me feel uncomfortable in the past? Yes. Do I think my position is the same as a woman’s in society? No.
“They’re very different things, and I should have separated them. I was wrong.”
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Oh, bless you, Jon Snow! How refreshing it is to see a public figure acknowledge that they made a mistake, rather than double down on their original statement or attempt to claim they were misquoted by a malicious journalist.
Admittedly, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, it would be a bad PR move for Harington to publicly cling on to his claim that men in Hollywood experience sexism, too. But regardless, we think his about-face is one to be applauded.
Watch and learn, self-proclaimed male feminist allies. Watch and learn.
Images: Rex Features / HBO