Saturday, January 12, 2013

Men-Ups: Pin-ups With Men

I don't know how I missed this, because this is awesome. The entire series of photos is available on Flickr.

As many of you know, I am both the author of this website -- which is, or at least was, predicated on the objectification of women -- and am also a rabid feminist. I live in a state of constant cognitive dissonance. So something that is both pin-up oriented, while also illustrating the ridiculous portrayal and objectification that takes place, fits neatly in between both viewpoints.

It reminds me of the fan-freaking-tastic fan art of The Avengers, all posed like they are constantly posing Black Widow: the booty shot.

Image by Kevin Bolk.

The only way this would have been better is if they had taken the photographs and had a digital painter do the full Elvgren treatment, thus allowing for the hilariously exaggerated facial expressions common to pin-ups.

An important point of discussion is how this posing is assumed to be silly by those making the images, but the posing of the women is not. Obviously, that's the point that they are making, but it is still worth emphasizing that we have had our perceptions of women so wildly sexualized, that utterly stupid portrayals of them are not only normalized, but visually appealing.

This again comes back to something that I have dealt with for years: the non-sexualization of men. The idea of a strongly sexualized male in imagery is almost exclusively associated with homosexuality. And while I would never claim that this particular arrangement has been harder on men than women, it has done damage to us. I have spent my entire life convinced, on some level, that I am unattractive. One of the causes of this is because me, a male, is never portrayed as visually arresting, or sexy. I could never be an object of desire. (I have since overcome the majority of these issues and generally feel alright about myself.)

Oh sure, some men are portrayed as attractive, but it has more to do with their wrapping than their physical form. Their jacket is cut just so. Their car is expensive. Look at GQ or Esquire magazines' covers. The body is not attractive, it is the clothing, the watch, the style that is important. The body is ugly.

Perhaps, then, it is not surprising that the photographer who created these images is himself a homosexual. He must be keenly aware of the dichotomy of male and female portrayals in the media, and that straight men are always portrayed in a particular way.

Obviously, things are changing. Since the 1980's, we've seen an increasing number of media portrayals of the male body as specifically attractive, even though they are not specifically sexualized. Today, we live in an odd mish-mash of media portrayals. We have advertisements that, at least initially, seem to sexualize men but are actually sexualizing women -- advertisements like BOD. In them, the men are still doing something, usually sports, and are not simply out on display, and the message of the ads is identical to those of AXE or any other male-aimed advertisements from the past: get laid by hot women.

We also have Dolce & Gabbana advertisements and their ilk that literally drip with homoeroticism.

I look forward to the day when males are sexualized to the same degree as females. Objectification is fine, because for all of our wondrous humanity, we are also objects to one another. Unfortunately for women in our society, that objectification is concomitant with ignoring of their humanity -- they are reduced to nothing but an object.

There was a time when the male form was seen as a glorious object: Classical Greece. This was replaced with the adoration of the female form in Hellenistic Greece, which has unfortunately remained ever since. I want a return to the recognition of the male form as an object it its own right.

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