Shiftless Bodies

Posted: May 18, 2011 in Masculinities, metrosexuality
Tags: , , ,–noble-censors-cover-featuring-androgynous-male-model

This image of the male model Andrej Pejic was censored by the bookstore chain Barnes and Noble, because it could be mistaken for a picture of a topless woman

As the Jezebel article states, other magazines featuring covers of shirtless men have been stocked by Barnes and Noble, but the men in question have been muscle-bound metrosexuals.

What does this tell us about gender anxiety and attitudes to ‘obscenity’ and nudity in the 21st century?

I think it is interesting, in the light of that recent photoshoot for Abercrombie and Fitch in Paris, where over one hundred male models got their tits out for the whole of Paris to enjoy. Because in some ways, muscled up pecs look more like women’s breasts than a skinny androgyne’s ones.

I also think this serves as a reminder that the feminist campaigns in the UK by organisations such as OBJECT, to cover up lads mags and to put them back on the ‘top shelf’, may lead to similar incidents of censorship here.

Jezebel decides that the thorny issue of how feminists simultaneously bemoan ‘double standards’ of how men and women’s bodies are perceived in our culture, and also campaign for the censorship of images which ‘objectify’ women but not men, should be left for ‘another day’:

‘Why it is exactly that women’s toplessness is considered inappropriate for magazine covers in this country is a question for another day, but this debacle does call into question the general ridiculousness of these standards’

Very wise, Jezebel, very wise. But on this or any other day, I could point out how contradictory and full of its own double standards, feminist dogma about gendered bodies is. I’m not going anywhere…

  1. Schala says:

    Fun. This is how my body looked before I started hormones, at 24, 5 years ago. I’m probably shorter than him, since he’s described as tall (I’m somewhat short for someone ‘male’).

    Now the main difference between then and now, is I got small breasts that amount to something bigger than what he has…but then again, A-cup breasts aren’t that big, are they?

    But hey, this kind of androgyny (in adulthood no less) must be so normal, because my doctors never said a thing about my development being weird in any way.

    I was sarcastic, but let’s say there’s a difference between the men’s health “ideal” with huge pecs, and average men in society, and androgyny that could pass for female in a blink, when adult (no man in a dress deal, it’s a WTF moment for people who would think they’d have a laugh).

  2. I support women’s right to be topfree…..

    He looks like he has never touched a weight in his life or done any physical labor….

    I guess that makes him metrosexual….

    Anyways, here’s where the feminist’s got it wrong-male bodies are objectified too–in a far different way. A male body is objectified for strength and utility…. That is is he powerful enough for a rugged sport, can he be sent to war to die.

    A female can be “enough” by being beautiful and from my point of view that seems like “privilege.”

  3. okay, so the first model was censored for not fitting societies view of masculinity-he could be confused for female where an equally almost naked guy is perfectly acceptable….

    That doesn’t cancel what I’m saying at all but seems to show an enforcement of traditional masculinity. Wouldn’t feminist want a “new masculinity” ?

    I know this has been discussed before by Mark Simpson-but those “fitness” mags are horrible… Most fit men don’t look that way… The guy pictured above is part good genetics and part calorie restriction…. Also, they have ads for supplements more than workout advice…. It is soooo tough to find good information on working out.

  4. Matt Volatile says:

    Jezebel’s awkwardness here belies something quite profound. What is the dogmatic radfem response to this issue? What are the “real feminists” making of this?

    • I don’t know. I don’t think many feminist bloggers have picked up on this story-for obvious reasons! The fact Jezebel have even mentioned the ‘ridiculousness’ of double standards around objectification of men and women is quite funny to me, because they don’t know where to go now they have.

      • Matt Volatile says:

        So, do we ban shirtless men, or allow shirtless women?


        • the thing is, they will get away with this contortion. Feminism of sex/body etc is often about putting forward two contradictory ideas at the same time.

          So on the one hand they are saying-look, isn’t it terrible that women’s bodies are perceived as more ‘obscene’ than men’s, isn’t that sexist, showing the hatred for the ‘feminine’ in our culture? (which comes from feminist psychoanalysis)

          And on the other they are saying- look, isn’t it terrible that women are so objectified in our culture that we have to spend our time trying to stop men from harassing and violating women with their eyes? (which comes from radical feminist anti-rape/anti-porn dogma)

          The two contradict each other but they can use both.

  5. Gs says:

    I’m not well versed in feminism. I’ve always considered it a peer issue, born of woman’s suffrage.

    It may have been just that at one time but, it has, currently, a sense of wanting a bigger ‘market share’. No longer a protest supporting certain rights, but a protest designed to advance feminists economic and social goals as a group. Feminism has become, instead of a topic, a population segment; A segment with competitive designs within a competitive economic system. Not a bad way to do things, competitively speaking, but they still dress, self-servingly, in the gown of ‘women’s rights’, rather than admitting their own growing economic self-interest.

  6. Easy. SOmebody at Barnes & Nobles was aroused,got embarrassed, and decided to ban it.

  7. john smith says:

    Isn’t it because male bodies are largely invisible as sexualised objects in our society, unlike women’s bodies, and therefore their display is considered safe for women, children and animals. As soon as you move away from a body that is unambiguous male, that’s when the anxiety begins, can it be safely displayed or does it need to be covered up or hidden from view.

  8. arctic_jay says:

    There’s something very suspicious about all this. I used to go to Barnes & Noble all the time and I’ve seen plenty of photography and art reference books with completely nude women the the covers displayed prominently on the their shelves. Also, they sold Germaine Greer’s “Beautiful Boy” with a very androgynous child actor on the cover that I thought was a girl, too, the first time I saw it. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is a contrived controversy/publicity stunt and that Dossier is more than a little happy about.

    And hearing feminists complain about the toplessness double standard is totally nauseous. They don’t want women to go around topless. They complain about the double standard in order to add another item to the list of ways women are victimized, but at the same time rail against sexual objectification in order to preempt female toplessness from becoming desexualized.

  9. for the record if there is ever a question, I will be on the side of Party Naked–don’t care how the feminanzi’s and xxxtians feel about that.

  10. […] Whatever Pejic does or doesn’t symbolise about the world of high fashion it seems to me that he and the scandale surrounding him definitely, dramatically personifies something that is going on in the wider culture that feminists, along with everyone else, are often far less keen to notice (though not the anti-feminist blogger Quiet Riot Girl). […]

  11. […] What­ever Pejic does or doesn’t sym­bol­ise about the world of high fash­ion it seems to me that he and the scan­dale sur­round­ing him def­i­nitely, dra­mat­i­cally per­son­i­fies some­thing that is going on in the wider cul­ture that fem­i­nists, along with every­one else, are often far less keen to notice (though not the anti-feminist blog­ger Quiet Riot Girl). […]

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