beauty (re)discovers the male body
excerpts from Susan Bordo, The Male Body
p. 168: men on display
Putting classical art to the side for the moment, the naked and the nearly naked female body became an object of mainstream consumption first in Playboy and its imitators, then in movies, and only then in fashion photographs. With the male body, the trajectory has been different. Fashion has taken the lead, the movies have followed. Hollywood may have been a chest-fest in the fifties, but it was male clothing designers who went south and violated the really powerful taboos --not just against the explicit depiction of penises and male bottoms but against the admission of all sorts of forbidden "feminine" qualities in to mainstream conceptions of manliness.
It was the spring of 1995, and I was sipping my first cup of morning coffee, not yet fully awake, flipping through The New York Times Magazine,when I had my first real taste of what it's like to inhabit this visual culture as a man. It was both thrilling and disconcerting. It was the first time in my experience that I had encountered a commercial representation of a male body that seemed to deliberately invited me to linger over it. Let me make that stronger --that seemed to reach out to me, interrupting my mundane but peaceful Sunday morning, and provoke me into erotic consciousness, whether or not I wanted it. Women --both straight and gay-- have always gazed covertly, of course, squeezing out illicit little titillations out of representations designed for --or pretending to-- other purposes than to turn us on. This /p. 169: ad made no such pretense. It caused me to knock over my coffee cup, ruining the more cerebral pleasures of the Book Review. Later, when I had regained by equilibrium, I made a screen-saver out of him, so I could gaze at my leisure.
I'm sure that many gay men were as taken as I was, and perhaps /p. 170 some gay women too....
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