Eventually, we were naming names, and then asking out loud, "Who are the current female sex symbols?"
For the males, it was pretty easy: Matt Damon, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Will Smith, Tom Cruise (apparently still popular overseas), the Hemsworth's, and up-and-comer Channing Tatum.
"Damn, I'm sexay!"
For the females? This is where we got stumped.
(Keep in mind I am no pop culture expert, so I'm not in my element, so to speak. Still, allow me to be Shallow Jes for awhile.)
Now, I'm talking about women that are very well known and popular primarily for their 'beauty', such as Pamela Anderson, Cindy Crawford, Cameron Diaz, Selma Hayek, Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Simpson, Farrah Fawcett, Angelina Jolie, Marilyn Monroe, Jessica Alba, etc...
Given how shallow our society is, it is obvious that the male sex symbols have a lot more staying power (pun not intended). Since women tend to be objectified more, there are always way more women sex symbols, and much of society seems to always be looking for hot, young things. The women have more competition, in that regard, and don't seem to retain their fame and status for nearly as long.
Look at the list of males, and many of them have been around for a long time. These fellows still command a lot of money, swooning, and fantasies.
For the ladies?
Jennifer Aniston - Still pretty good looking, popular, and good for the 40+ crowd. She's not the A-lister she once was, but she is still kickin' it.
Angelina Jolie - She looks like a living skeleton now that she's lost 100 pounds, and hasn't been in anything of note in years.
Jessica Alba - She couldn't act her way out of a paper bag, and has been invisible since her role as the Invisible Woman.
Megan Fox - Got herself kicked off of the Transformers franchise, and then had hideous plastic surgery. Why, Megan, why?
The only three names I could come up with, after some thought, were Scarlett Johansson, Kim Kardashian, and Sofia Vergara. Either I don't follow pop culture enough, or things have changed.
ScarJo isn't really an A-lister, but she is hot, part of the Avengers franchise, and seems to be one of the few current actresses that most people will know easily as a sex symbol. I haven't seen Vergara in much, but her name pops up often enough as a celebrity crush of many men. Kardashian has been a master of capturing media attention, even if many people simply want her to be run over by a septic truck.
Now, society hasn't really changed all that much. Men and women are still as shallow as they always have been, and many celebrities, especially women, are evaluated on their looks more than anything else. Hey, I am the same way with my celebrity crushes. Kristanna Loken, aka T-X, isn't on my Top 5 list these days!
(She's not happy at being kicked off of the list)
I can think of a few reasons for the shortage of these symbols.
1. Franchises / Ensemble Casts - So many movies now are part of franchises, or have so many sequels, that having A-list talent isn't nearly as necessary. With the Avengers, you could have easily cast any women in ScarJo's role, and it wouldn't have affected attendance. With so many ensemble casts, the women don't really stand out or carry a role like they used to.
A good example is Zoe Saldana in Star Trek. She's a good-looking woman, but she's just one little piece of that big pie. Any of the hot female actresses in the Game of Thrones series will have the same problem.
2. Reality TV - Let's face it, there is far too much attention paid to these garbage programs, and you get the likes of Kim Kardashian, Bethenny Frankel, and Paris Hilton focused on much more than the usual actresses. Most reality show fade in and out pretty quickly.
3. Choices - With so many more entertainment choices, the major studios don't control nearly as much of the viewer eye as they used to. When there were fewer channels and movies to watch, the big stars captured a larger percentage of the public's attention.
This whole string of ramblings hasn't been a statement of values (ie. "I want more objects of desire"), so much as an observation of what I see. Any other current female sex symbols I'm missing?