Rafael Nadal has got into some shallow water over at Armani. I think he has been kidnapped by the Italian fashion house and is being slowly, sensually tortured for our viewing pleasure. First there was the poster campaign:
and now a video advertisement that leaves the Spanish tennis ace swallowing fluid and spluttering for breath. As Mark Simpson (Yes him again), the ‘spawner of sporno’ has observed:
‘As if the tarty Armani poster of Rafael Nadal offering his arse to the world wasn’t slutty enough. Along comes the sporno video.
The tennis ace is being shoved up against the (unplastered) wall and then thrown down and hammered on the builder’s bench. Twice.
By the camera. Which chops up his body into sexy, slippery bits and pieces. Tits and ass and abs. Total, rampant, ruthless objectification. Which Mr Nadal – like many young men today – appears to relish.
And that liquid he’s half-drowning in. Is it bodily fluids? Or is he being water boarded by our gaze?
Could this video in fact be any sluttier, without actual penetration? Then again, wouldn’t your actual, standard-issue penetration diminish the sluttiness by making it both ‘hard’ and banal? Instead of the grainy non-specific sluttiness that drips off everything in our mediated, metrosexyworld’.
Finally don’t we have enough evidence now that men are objectified in our visual culture as much as women are? That men’s bodies are cut up and packaged for our delectation, with very little thought for their status and feelings as human beings?
When women are given this treatment the feminists are up in arms:
And yet I expect this latest metrosexual display of physical ’excess’ will go unremarked by feminists, who cling onto the idea that it is women’s objectification that is dominant in culture, and that is a key aspect of contemporary women’s ’oppression’. I would happily ignore them except that their perspectives are affecting how women see themselves, and men, and how even governments make policy around gender and sex. The recent government research and report on Sexualisation for example, included consultation with feminists including feminist academics. The result was it focussed on the way girls and young women are ‘sexualised’ not boys and young men. And when it talked about that hateful term ‘pornification’ it referred to pornography primarily as that which is viewed by boys/men and that objectifies girls/women, turning them into nothing but pieces of meat.
I keep returning to the work of Mr Simpson because it is the only example I can find of a critique of the ‘pornification’ of culture that takes note of how boys and men figure in this picture, not merely as consumers/voyeurs and potential sexual ‘predators’, but also as objects. For the feminist discourse on this subject is used to emphasise how a ‘sexualised culture’ is a ‘rape culture’. It is a discourse which leads to sentences like this being uttered, (and left unchallenged) by influential feminists:
‘Rape culture is the objectification of women, which is part of a dehumanizing process that renders consent irrelevant.’
Which renders consent irrelevant .
It’s a chilling phrase, isn’t it? We are already raped it says. It is irrelevant whether or not we want to have sex or not. It is almost irrelevant whether or not we do have sex. Women, according to this discourse, are raped by (male) culture.
The Armani ad can be looked at as just another way of selling jeans. Or it can be used as a way of fighting back against the lies told by those who wish to keep women as victims of the ‘patriarchy’.
I sometimes wish Mr Sporno Daddy himself would go even further in taking on the feminist dogma. I sometimes wish he would discuss this issue of how objectification is not just a feminist issue, beyond showing us how bodies like Nadal’s are becoming the bodies – rather than women’s- we see draped all over billboards, oozing with sweat and water and…
But I know he has done his bit.
Maybe I am here to bridge the gap, between analysing metrosexuality and challenging feminism, between looking and looking and looking at male bodies, and talking about why women’s are just not that special anymore. And why feminists want us to think they are.
But sometimes I too feel like I am drowning, in all this shiny pumped up preening (metro) male sexuality. And however much I may enjoy that feeling, I think it is a dangerous distraction.
It is a distraction from the pernicious, misandrist approaches to objectification that lead to ‘macho’ campaigns like this:
Someone called me Mark Simpson’s ‘sock puppet’ the other day. I was actually very flattered. But if I was his sock puppet, I think my writing and pictures would look a little sexier than they do, a little more metro, if you see what I mean? I think I would have finished this post a long way up the page and left you with the image of Nadal’s pert ass and his fine shoulders, and the thought of his chest, rubbing against that wall until his skin chafed and…
But I am nobody’s sock puppet. I have my own ‘agenda’ to pursue. I still want to know how men’s and women’s objectification fits together, and how feminist discourse on ‘pornification’ and ‘rape culture’ is allowed to co-exist with the blatant spornographic homoerotics of campaigns such as Armani’s. I want to know how we can actually do something to stop the tide of misandry the waves of ’women as victims’ culture that keep crashing against our rocks.
Any ideas folks?