Justin Trudeau called a #PMILF on Twitter​, but is that a problem?

A gender studies professor in Winnipeg cautions that all the focus on Twitter about Justin Trudeau's good looks puts him at risk of not being taken seriously as a political leader.

Online comments focus on prime minister-designate's looks and not his policies, says expert

Justin Trudeau holds his first news conference as prime minister-designate at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Tuesday. (Susana Mas/CBC)

The world is excited about Canada's new prime minister, but a surprising amount of the attention is on Justin Trudeau's looks.

The use of the Twitter hashtag #PMILF — or "prime minister I would like to f--k" — is not new, and had been used to describe other leaders, including Trudeau, before Monday's federal election.

But since the Liberals' big win, the hashtag's reference to the prime minister-designate has exploded.

Hundreds of people across the globe have started tweeting about Trudeau using #PMILF and, according to the Twitter analytics tool Keyhole.co, almost two-thirds of the people using the hashtag identify as women.

Lowest common denominator

"This culture of tweeting and saying everyone is 'hot' is not new," said Jocelyn Thorpe, an assistant professor in women's and gender studies at the University of Manitoba.

What is new, she said, is Canada hasn't had a prime minister who has fit into this standard of beauty — until now.

Jocelyn Thorpe, an assistant professor in women's and gender studies at the University of Manitoba, cautions that with all the focus on Trudeau's looks, "the danger is [his actions won't] be taken seriously." (Photo supplied by Jocelyn Thorpe)

She said men facing the same objectification as women could be seen as a form of gender equality, but it's "equality at the lowest common denominator."

Thorpe cautions that with all the focus on Trudeau's looks, "the danger is [his actions won't] be taken seriously."

She said it's like the Conservatives' attack ads saying Trudeau is "just not ready," and is a "continuation on the theme of emphasizing his good looks and underemphasizing his political ability."

Attention on and off Twitter

Twitter isn't the only place where Trudeau is getting attention for his looks.

A headline in the British newspaper Mirror asked if Trudeau was the "sexiest politician in the world." The article calls him a "genuine heartthrob" and describes Trudeau as having "luscious brown hair, spellbinding eyes and eyebrows that, we're reliably informed, are 'entirely on point.'"

Even Fox News's Geraldo Rivera and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's James McHale got in on the compliments on Twitter, although they avoided using the #PMILF hashtag.

"If I were [Trudeau] I would be frustrated," Thorpe said, but added that we shouldn't be taking Twitter all that seriously.

"We need to remember Twitter is not where people make their most serious contributions."

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