Nice Tits, Love!

Posted: June 8, 2011 in Mark Simpson, Masculinities, metrosexuality
Tags: ,

I don’t have much to say about the ‘sexualisation’ of culture,  of children, of anything really. Sex has always been an intrinsic aspect of our lives, our psyches, and our societies. My response on the day that Reg Bailey’s Review was delivered to David Cameron’s Government on the subject, was, ‘go read Freud and Foucault.’ I can’t think how better to understand the ‘sexualisation’ of children myself.

But there is one comment I will make. And that is: whatabouttehboyz?

In all the talk and all the criticisms of the review I have seen and heard, I have not seen one comprehensive discussion of just how gendered this whole debate is. Everyone is focussing on the effects (or lack of them) of ‘sexual’ images and products on girls and women. I have not seen any blogposts or articles that deal with the very plain-to me- fact that men in our culture are objectified and ‘sexualised’ just as much as if not more than, women. And that if there are knock-on, trickle-down whatever, effects on children, they are just as likely to be on boys as girls. If not more so.

The cover of Men’s Health Magazine posted above shows a nubile body, tits blazing, that could be seen by any child visiting WHSmith on any day of the week. But it is not a woman’s body or women’s tits. It is a man’s.

As you all must know, Mark Simpson has written about how men are portrayed as objects of (consumer) desire in our culture. He doesn’t use the ‘s’ word, probably because like me, he doesn’t think it means very much.

So come on people. Get with the programme. Men are people too! And objects!

Some intelligent discussion of the Bailey Review by Heresy Corner here:

http://heresycorner.blogspot.com/2010/05/when-it-comes-to-sexualising-children.html

http://heresycorner.blogspot.com/2011/06/complaints-procedure.html

And this just in: a ‘queer theory’ post that DOES relate to boys and men, and  ‘men’s fitness’ magazines.

http://queertheory.tumblr.com/post/6351265814/gendering-the-bailey-review

Post Script

I am still waiting to see if anyone can name a writer currently working who presents theories and opinions on gender who is as good and interesting as Mark Simpson. I know that despite my protests, I often end up as a one-man woman. But I want someone to knock Mr Simpson off his pedestal, not to put him down but to show I am capable of a bit of flirtation, a bit of fickleness in my old age. Any suggestions? It can be a blogger it doesn’t have to be a published author.

Comments
  1. Francis Fish says:

    I’ve noticed this too for many a long year. Also, have you noticed how there isn’t a single magazine (well maybe Men’s Health and some sports ones) on sale that doesn’t have a picture of a woman on the cover? It’s like men don’t exist, or are really rare. I don’t understand it, but it bothers the hell out of me.

    Men are sometimes allowed to loom behind their partners on the covers of the gossip mags, but usually look pretty scary.

    • Yes, though there is the ‘gay market’ which is quite large. And I think music magazines often have men on the cover.

      But you are right. There is one theory that men ‘wear women’ as ‘accessories’ on many magazine covers, to show they are heterosexual so you don’t think they are ‘gay mags’ or ‘gay sex objects’.

      • Francis Fish says:

        Advertising is the same as well – it’s like we don’t exist. Dad (usually) is this figure behind a newspaper, or doing something dumb with low energy lightbulbs that mum has already sorted.

        I understand the not looking gay thing, and see that it might work for some of the images. But often (thinking of a peculiar cover I noticed with Mariah Carey and partner when out buying chocolate) the men don’t look like they’re wearing the women, quite the opposite.

        I wonder if the men are airbrushed into ridiculous shapes in the ads too? Certainly that is more concerning than the sexualisation ‘problem’, if there is one.

        • well I think men DO exist as objects in culture that was my point. But maybe in particular genres- eg Men’s Health, Men’s Fashion, men’s er…porn.

          Also all the adverts with sportstars in is objectified- David Beckham, Ronaldo, Nadal all advertise gear/products.

  2. Rubato says:

    Have you read Tiqqun’s “Theory of the Young Girl”? You can download it here: http://zinelibrary.info/tiqqun-theory-young-girl-full

    • No thanks will take a look. Is that a candidate for a new exciting gender theorist/writer?

      • Rubato says:

        Purrhaps! It’s an anonymous French writers collective that published stuff around 1999 but then disbanded. It’s hardcore Leftist radical theory mind you, but very interesting.

        • just started reading. It IS very interesting thanks. But maybe they are describing, in the ‘young girl’ the metrosexual!

          • Rubato says:

            Not sure, what I think they’re aiming at is the dissolution of sexuality into some sort of nothingness and that the ‘young girl’ is its purified reification. The figure is also genderless they write.

            “The Young-Girl occupies the central kernel of the present system of desires” (12).

            It’s also the hipster! I recall you writing sometime about the absence of sexiness in the hipster right?

          • Rubato says:

            Oh and this:

            “What is still called virility is nothing but the childishness
            of men, and femininity that of women. Otherwise, one should
            perhaps speak of virilism and \feminism” when it’s a question
            of acquiring an identity or free will.

            The same cynical obstinacy that characterized the traditional
            woman, under house arrest in the duty of ensuring survival, now
            blossoms in the Young-Girl, but this time it’s emancipated from
            the domestic sphere, and from all gender monopoly. It’s now
            expressed everywhere: in her irreproachable emotional imperme-
            ability to work, in the extreme rationalization she imposes on her
            \sentimental life,” in her gait|so spontaneously militaristic|in
            the way she fucks, holds herself, or taps away on the computer.
            It’s also how she washes her car” (5).

  3. elissa says:

    I do hope it’s obvious to believe in the sexualization of men. We are sexual beings and that’s what sexual beings do – sexualize. And there must be a good reason why some believe otherwise. Putting aside your boyfriend Mark’s metrostuff, for that to me feels more like a shift than the start of a death, the resistance to seeing the obvious seems contrived enough to suspect a strong self interest. The typical counter argument criticizes the false equivalency, degree, or whatever other distinction helps hold up the need to hide behind the obvious.

    The STR8 BRO Brologist on The Good Men Project Too Much blog is quite a charmer. Take a read of his entry below.

    http://guyism.com/lifestyle/on-masculinity-why-men-like-porn.html

    “How often do men have to beat themselves off before we start taking it seriously?”

    — ha ha! I giggled like a virgin when I read that. Why is that?

    But alas your Mark remains safely perched on your pedestal. A little too much STR8 and not enough BRO..

    • hi elissa

      I have just discovered str8bro too and he’s great. But yes, he’s not a patch on Mr Simpson as far as I can tell. He has already told me Simpson’s work is ‘too gay’ for him! But I think he is a bit of a ‘macho fag’ myself.

      Also metrosexuality really does encompass in my view, the whole of ‘culture’. See Geordie Shore below. So anything gets swallowed up by it, and therefore also by Mr Simpson, being as he is, MetroDaddy. He will be hard to beat(off).

  4. @Rubato – yes. But I hate to say it- it was Mark Simpson who said that about hipsters. See what I mean? He swallows everything!

  5. elflojo84 says:

    I think it’s disingenuous to claim no-one has focussed on the effect of ‘sexualisation’ on males. Pretty much every article in the Graun has emphasised how important it is that boys get told not to rape. You see, male sexuality only exists insofar as it impacts on female sexuality.

    Aside from snarky comments, I don’t really have much to add cos you’ve covered it. I would argue, to be fair, that I don’t think images of physical perfection have the same psychological impact on males as females, especially teenagers (actual CHILDREN I think would have no concept of the self-esteem impact of either a rippling six pack or a perfect pair of tits) – because of the differing social pressures. Of coruse that isn’t to support the standard “girls have it worse line” because a) boys face different pressures which are not wailed about to anything like the same degree (watch a car advert through a low-wage male’s eyes and tell me that’s not social pressure to an unobtainable ideal…); and b) this shit doesn’t have an effect on you if you don’t let it have an effect on you. I get the pangs of envy when I see the guy with the rippling abs, or the smug, chisel-jawed, expensive suited Audi driver in the advert just like many women must get them when they see Kelly Brook on the front of Loaded. But I manage to quash them by reminding myself those guys are a tiny minority, normal average-looking wage slaves like me are all going around fraternising with other average-looking wage slaves (well, hopefully punching above their weight occassioanlly…) and it’s actually quite good fun.

  6. Elise says:

    Well, it seemed to me that Mark was extending Camille Paglia’s early 90s work in many ways. That’s why I was excited when I discovered him. Especially since he was talking about Morrissey. Of course, Paglia is now dotty, so doesn’t serve as a candidate for a current theorist. I can talk gender all day long, but I don’t have a gender blog. There are a lot out there and I stumble on them sometimes, but don’t have any I follow (Mark has links to some on his blog). But on your topic, I’ve got two words: Justin Bieber. Exactly like Britney in the day (and many boys and girls before her), he is marketed to appeal to 40ish-year-old men. And maybe women, who knows. Also, I work in the magazine section of a large bookstore, and the covers of our men’s magazines are now predominantly of prettified men and male celebrities. Maxim is a dinosaur. I agree with Mark, men these days (perhaps also responding to feminist “male gaze” criticism) aren’t interested in looking at women, they’re interested in looking in the mirror. The only place I can think of where women are still objectified more than men is pop music (Justin Bieber aside). Although that may have a lot to do with the fact that male pop stars can appeal to a female audience through other means than nudity (such as signifiers of machismo and money). But those rappers take off their shirts and show off their pumped tits a lot – and women take notice. In fact, they don’t shut up about us, bad news for those of us who don’t like moobs and six-packs. I suppose the only difference is that self-sexualizing male stars don’t get stigmatized as “whores.”

    • Maybe Mark will be considered ‘dotty’ when he is Paglia’s age, or whatever the male equivalent is!

    • Yes Bieber is a metro icon all right. Shame his music is so nothingy I can’t recall a single song.

      also he was born in 1994…the year the ‘metrosexual’ was born!

    • elflojo84 says:

      “I agree with Mark, men these days (perhaps also responding to feminist “male gaze” criticism) aren’t interested in looking at women, they’re interested in looking in the mirror.”

      That’s going a bit far. Yes men are more vain than they used to be (or at least, more openly vain) but to claim we aren’t interested in looking at women at all is absurd.

      • I think that’s an extreme, simplified version of Mark Simpson’s theory of the ‘self-loving’ metrosexual elflo.

        Also remember Mark is as gay as a post so he doesn’t really know what looking at women means! And when he looks at men he likes to look at ones that reflect his own narcissism. Bless. His book is still brilliant though!

        • elflojo84 says:

          That’s a good point, one of the problems I’ve always found as a straight man trying to make myself look desirable to straight women is I don’t KNOW what’s desirable to straight women, except in a sort of academic way – that is, I know what people look like who I know are considered attractive men, but I don’t look at a man and see the attractiveness directly in the same way. I’m sure you could never really see that in yourself anyway, btu I can’t help thinking a gay man has an advantage in this area. Maybe that’s why they’re all so perfectly dressed and instinctively good at colour matching and we’re all smelly, farty men in scruffy trainers?

  7. I suppose what I am saying is, the statement ‘I agree with Mark (Simpson)’ around gender within consumer culture is almost unnecessary. As we can’t disagree with him and be right!’ He has cornered the market.

  8. billsnshits says:

    I’m just here b/c a link to this blog post from a blog that disappeared after I found it from this blog here, existed in the google cache version of that disappeared blog. And I thought I’d just post here as if that blog were real and not just cached, for nostalgia’s sake (she was real cool and it’d be nice if she had vanished).

    But since I’m here and the newer posts address this hagiographic perfection of the saint’s image with newfound sullen teenage rebellion, I’ll say,
    I actually haven’t seen many true metrosexuals anywhere. Either the uber muscled version. Or the overly narcissistic fashion plate. Most guys seem trapped in traditional masculine bonding and terror of homoerotics or else are just shitty lookin’ and fumblingly boyish/indie.
    I mean if you really look, most guys still don’t have perfect abs and ‘ceps surrounded by zero body fat. And neither do they wisp their hair “just oh so the other boys will look at me”.
    I never even heard a morrissey song before today (saying that after I see it’s okay to say it on here). He’s scary. It’s not bad poetry it’s just not poetry at all, neither is it a message. It’s a kind of half stated experience that anyone can wrap around their head and believe what they want. But, like, why, exactly?
    Is it just a lot of wimpy boys wanted to be accepted as dark men so they went and accepted morrissey doing just that? It does not work. And it never needed to work b/c it was never impossible.
    No, I know, I know. He “almost feels” something. That’s safe, a safe distance. Never feel too deeply, you’ll embarrass yourself. Just pout, it’s close enough.

  9. billsnshits says:

    I mean it’d be nice if she had NOT vanished.
    Ah ha-ha ha-ha ha-ha ha-ha-ha-HAAAAAAh, I——- sound. like. mo-rri-ssey.

  10. billsnshits says:

    Just forget I said they aren’t everywhere. Even if they aren’t, it’s an ad culture where ads are so evanescently transient that they’re like reality. Who cares what people look like on the street, ads is the only place I can see them.

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