London - In an “honest” account of the aims of his men's magazine, Esquire editor Alex Bilmes has said women are included in their pages to be ornamental and objectified.
Speaking on a panel about feminism in the media at the Advertising Week Europe conference, Mr Bilmes said: “We produce a men's magazine and it has a male gaze... This is the controversial bit that people don't like but I always tell the truth about it - the women we feature in the magazine are ornamental, that is how we see them.”
He added: “I could lie and say we are interested in their brains as well but on the whole we're not, they are there to be a beautiful object, they're objectified.”
Defending his comments, Bilmes, 40, said men can be capable of viewing women as “three dimensional human beings” at times.
“The fact is heterosexual men regard women in many ways, as their wife, sister, daughter or mother... but there are certain times we just want to look at them because they're sexy,” he explained to gasps of disapproval from the audience.
He said his men's magazine meets this need by providing “pretty pictures of girls... so they are ornamental in the same way we provide pictures of cool cars.”
As Bilme's views were challenged by those listening to him at the conference, the former sub editor at Vogue defended his position saying women's media does exactly the same thing.
He maintained Esquire are less “rigid” in their portrayal of what the ideal women should look like because they are more “ethnically diverse” and “shape diverse” than high fashion magazines.
His comments drew further consternation from the crowd when he pointed out they also feature “old” women on their covers - such as Cameron Diaz and Rachel Weisz.
“Not really old, but in their forties,” he clarified.
The editors comments were quickly attacked and ridiculed after being publicised. The Guardian asked if Bilme had “escaped from a Benny Hill sketch” with his outdated views while Twitter user @BeautyIsInside named him their “Douche of the Day”.
Others on Twitter expressed their anger calling him “sexist” and “from the wrong century”. - Daily Mail