'Tree Man' highlights a double standard in the battle of the sexes

Danny Jones is an online fitness instructor. He is also very tall, at around two metres (6'7" in the old money), and very muscular. He has posted a few pictures of himself online, with his shirt off, to promote his business.

Good idea, because he is a fine specimen, there's no doubt. I'm sure his online training is going extremely well, with lots of people signing up in the hope they too might too, eventually, look like Danny.

A few days ago someone tweeted a pic of Danny and quite a few individuals and media outlets instantly lost their minds.

Everyday hysteria

Cassandra Stone, writing for a site called, disturbingly,  ran this headline. Tree Man is Breaking The Internet and Everyone Wants to Climb Him.

"If you're looking for one reason not to hate the internet today, Tree Man delivers," she wrote.

The internet is not actually broken, by the way. It's just an inaccurate and hysterical way of saying "this is a very popular story."

All the stories, posts and comments insisted on referring to Danny as Tree Man, rather than use his real name. Because his is, I suppose, as big as a tree.

picked up the story. "His name is Danny Jones but we'll just keep calling him Tree Man because it's better." Why it's better remains unclear but Buzzfeed had more important things to discuss. If Tree Man Doesn't Give You Wood, Then Sweetie, Nothing Will. Brilliant stuff.

 

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Cute or creepy?

The comments you can find if you care to search the story on the (unbroken) internet range from cute to weird to downright horrific.

"Oh my … I would climb that and live on it forever".

"Sweet Jesus, someone fetch me the smelling salts"

Bizarrely, one woman even said she wanted Danny to kill her cat. Seriously, she wrote she wanted him to "murder my pussy." Can't imagine why.

The issue here is, of course, the open, lascivious, sexual objectification of another human being.

The writers knew it, too. "And look, it's not like we're objectifying him because don't act like you've never ogled a beautiful sequoia before," the ScaryMommy story said, before proceeding to dribble all over him.

I am not my body

We live in a world where women are fighting hard for the notion that "I am not my body." Stopping the sexual objectification of women's bodies at the expense of their individuality is at the heart of the feminist agenda.

Imagine, for a moment, I posted a picture of "Couch Girl" – who cares what her name is – and said I wanted to bounce all over her cushions? Then imagine thousands of other blokes shared it and said what they'd like to do to her? I'd be crucified, and rightly so.

And don't for a moment try to argue Danny deserved the attention because he posted pics of himself, sans shirt. That's the same as saying victims of abuse deserved it because of what they were, or were not, wearing.

I'm sure Danny and his business is not suffering too much from the attention. The point is we're trying to teach young men to see other people as individuals, not a "hot body". It's a losing battle.

So for women to reduce another human to an object to perv on and share with their friends is just setting their own very real fight backwards.

Seriously, he's a man, not a tree for your cat to climb.

Is Jones fair game to be objectified? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

With more than 25 years in Australian media, Phil Barker has edited NW and Woman's Day magazines, and published such titles as Vogue, GQ, Delicious, InsideOut and Donna Hay. He is owner of a creative events and activations agency and is a regular commentator on the life and style of Australian men.

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