THE Robert the Bruce Netflix film Outlaw King is released this week, but media headlines have not centred on matters of historical accuracy or gore content – instead they’ve been focusing on the fact the King of Scots’ sword has been released from its sheath.

Euphemistically speaking, at least.

Boaby the Bruce star Chris Pine reckons this is all wrong; there are double standards at play. Why is it that when women reveal their fullness in film – including his co-star Florence Pugh – there’s little fuss. But when a male actor appears in his birthday suit the flames of derision are fanned furiously, like 10-year-olds trying to keep alight a damp November bonfire.

Canadian writer Sabrina Maddeaux picked up the theme in the National Post. “Actors are increasingly expected to pose topless, get ripped in the gym to secure much-coveted superhero roles and stand idly by while women ruthlessly compile Tumblr accounts documenting the bulge in their pants,” she writes.

Time Magazine, in fact, has a term for this: manjectification. Maddeaux adds: “All the while, female objectification has become increasingly taboo. Don’t you dare comment on Jennifer Lawrence’s appearance or her wardrobe or even her posture unless you want to face the wrath of social media.”

Double standards indeed. And the media is guilty of journalistic double standards over the importance of the screen king’s manhood. But Maddeaux isn’t offering sympathy for the likes of Pine. Her central premise is that men have long controlled film and television. So deal with it, guys. “The fact that women can even be accused of objectifying men is actually a huge progressive step forward. Until recently, the female sex drive was forcibly kept in the closet.”

Pushing aside the manjectification issue, what of this ‘sex drive’? And does it manifest itself in a desire for women to see all? There’s no doubt women have been drooling over Richard Madden’s chestiness in Bodyguard and remember the heat scythe-sweating Poldark star Aidan Turner’s hairy torso created.

Yet, that’s the top half of the argument. While the female form has long been regarded as an art form, its curves and crevasses suggesting and implying sensuality, male genitalia looks like leftover bits to be found on the floor of a meat packing factory. It’s easy to find female arguments for equality via nude representation, but you’ll have a job discovering a demand to see more John Thomases.

What’s fascinating, however, is this argument sits against the stats which show a huge increase in women watching porn. The search term Porn For Women grew 359 per cent among female internet users last year.

But apparently there is no contradiction, explains psychologist Jill Weber. “Women don’t pick apart your naked self as much as you might imagine,” she writes. “They’re less aroused by a naked male body than they are by depictions of actual sex activity.”

Researchers from Geneva University Hospitals support this theory. “Women looked at the abdomens of the men more extensively than the chest or pectoral region, which was in turn viewed more than the genital area.”

If women want to see mostly pects, does this explain the derision Pine has been getting? Or is it to do with the fact men don’t like to see the male member out there? Jokes about the female body shape are contained these days but you still get the gags about the size of the phallus: “The size of a bookie’s pencil. . .” or “If it were black and gold it could have been mistaken for a AAA battery.”

Is this reflected in the fact many actors aren’t keen to disrobe? During his American Gigolo run Richard Gere said; “I certainly felt vulnerable, but I think it’s different for men than women.” And while Mark Ruffalo may have been The Hulk for a while he was “scared stiff” (perhaps not the best phrase to use) of going nude in front of Meg Ryan in The Cut. “And she was with Russell Crowe at the time,” he pointed out. “All I could think of is ‘What am I going to be like compared to Russell Crowe?’”

Regardless, Pine’s complaint is relevant because it reminds of the sexploitation in the film industry, whereby many actresses were coerced into nudity. Yes, Helen Mirren almost had to be restrained from unclipping her bra strap at one time. And who didn’t grin when Paul Kaye’s Dennis Pennis asked Demi Moore: “If it wasn’t gratuitous and was tastefully done, would you consider keeping your clothes on in a movie?” And some actors certainly don’t mind taking their kit off at all, such as Ewan McGregor. (On seeing his Young Adam who didn’t wish to he had covered up with a bedsheet?).

But what Pine is really saying is it shouldn’t be about prurience or achieving sexual balance quotas.

Marilyn Monroe got it right. During filming of The Misfits in 1961, she dropped a sheet during an intimate scene, which director John Huston cut. But the actress (rightly) argued a woman alone in a room wouldn’t cover herself with a sheet before getting dressed.

If the bits have to be bared, do it for the right reason. And don’t laugh.