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  • Fr. Bryan

A Bad Reason to See Magic Mike XXL

Women know lust well. Many have been the victims of lust in at least one of a couple of ways. The obvious way is that beautiful women with stunning physical features are given disproportionate and unwanted attention for their looks. But this is not the only way women are victimized by lust. Women who are less physically beautiful are indirect victims of male lust because they are ignored or avoided in social situations and given fewer professional opportunities in favor of more attractive women.

Most people are deeply mistaken about what lust is and what lust isn’t. First of all, lust is not merely finding another person attractive or even sexually desirable. We are supposed to find other people attractive because human beings are created in the image and likeness of God and God is pure beauty.

The problem with lust is not that we see beauty in a person, but that we see too little beauty in a person. Lust is what happens when our attraction to a person becomes bodily focused and ignorant of the interior life of a person. We only see a collection of material parts forgetting that a person also thinks things and feels things, has a history and a future, and people who love them. To be “pure” is not to shy away from exterior beauty, but to be conscious of a person’s interior life when our eyes catch their exterior beauty.

Despite the fact that women know lust well and have suffered the effects of it, women are being drawn to the Hollywood hit Magic Mike and its soon to be released sequel Magic Mike XXL, which features Channing Tatum as a male stripper. I can’t think of a good reason to see this film, but there is at least one bad reason to see the movie that is surprisingly common among certain groups of women.

This view is expressed in this blog post written several years ago in which a mother explains why she is going to take her twelve year old daughter to see the first Magic Mike movie. While she is admittedly unsure of her decision she plans to take her daughter to see this because she is, “happy to see the playing field leveled a little bit,” and, “Now two genders can play at that game [of objectification], it seems.” For her, a movie featuring male strippers, “feels like payback for all the girl stripper films.”

Seeing Magic Mike XXL as “payback” for countless instances of male lust is not a good reason to see the movie. Becoming just as shallow as certain men regarding the human form is not a good way for woman to stand up for themselves. In fact, it is giving into male lust because it is giving into the same lie at the root of so much of the pain and suffering that women have experienced from men, namely that we are just a collection of parts to be used for somebody else’s enjoyment.

A strong woman’s response is to push back against the entire paradigm and to reject anything that promotes lust as defined above. That right there is a good reason not to see Magic Mike XXL.

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