Are we allowed to call Justin Trudeau hot?

If our soon-to-be prime minister were a woman, we’d be outraged if media focused on how attractive she was. The debate is on.

Of all the international attention showered on Justin Trudeau the day after his election, one theme prevailed above the rest: The new prime minister of Canada is a total BABE.

“Canada’s new prime minister is super hot” screamed one headline over at US Weekly. “Canada’s hot new prime minister has the Internet sweating maple syrup” read another at Mashable.com (the story’s 13,700 shares suggest readers agree).

But is there a double standard here? If our future prime minister were a woman, we would be outraged if the media were focused on how attractive she was. So is it unfair, degrading or maybe even sexist to publicly lust after Trudeau?

A Twitter exchange this afternoon between a Globe and Mail columnist Elizabeth Renzetti and American writer Roxane Gay showed how differently feminists respond to that question:

Gay, known for her latest book of essays Bad Feminist, disagreed, arguing that saying Trudeau is attractive is “in no way degrading him.”

Gay argued the difference is context: “Wealthy white men have never been subjugated or objectified the way women have,” she tweeted, and therefore it can’t be experienced as sexism in the same way.

There’s a “cultural context” and history of objectification that needs to be considered here, Gay said. But that’s no reason to subject men, in 2015, to the objectification women have had to deal with for centuries, Renzetti countered.

While the two agreed to disagree on some points, they got on level about one thing — if we’re going to objectify, let’s make it completely equal opportunity.

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