Monday, November 22, 2010

Are Men Too Sexy for Themselves?

It is certainly not the case for women. Every time a woman exerts more hip thrusts, self touches, and showing off more skin; the thought she is over sexualized crosses our minds even if it is not something we agree with. What about men and their sexual expressions or marketing of lust, desire, and intimacy? Can their expressions be so over the top the public perceives it as over sexed? In this class we have extensively discussed images of women being exploited or empowered with their bodies, but not so much men. In looking at Right Said Fred’s music video “I’m Too Sexy”, men’s advertising of sex and sexual expression seems to be defined my muscle, skin, hair, and eyes. They may be poking fun at the women models in the video but through that they are exuding their own ideas about male sexiness. No shirts, leather, and abs. It’s as if they are trying to maculate sexuality if there is such a thing. The video still has women dressed in a little bits of clothes awing over their performance. No hip thrust or touching themselves but they are still sexy.

Even in marketing we get these different ideas what is too much sex for men. Check out a few images above. Are these men considered oversexed based on your initial judgment? When I looked at them I did not once think that they are exploiting their bodies and dignity for fame and fortune, I thought they are just being men showing off their bodies because they are empowered by their looks. I didn’t think about at first because I have been socialized to not think of men as excessive in sex, they are sexy but so sexy it degrades them.

However looking closer at the images the fellow licking the chocolate in comparison to the other images is a softer, almost less masculine image because it lacks the physical attributes that the dominant male gender identifies with. One might suggest femininity in the image with the chocolate, which makes it stand out a more sexualized image. It is not a negative thing but intriguing how men and women are given degrees of sexuality based on their sex and gender role identity not the poses or actions. If women were doing these same poses with the same amounts of clothing they would be too sexy and suggestive. It is also interesting how a dominant male can set boundaries on the women and femme gender for being too sexy and needing to be more conservative, but not for himself. So ideally, a masculine male can not be over sexed in images or media. I disagree, if a woman faces the same set of boundaries men should too. Not to say that all men and all women are cookie cutter and fit this web of sex and imagery. So to answer my initial question, can be too sexy for themselves; yes they can. What do you think?



    I may or may not have read People Magazine’s “100 Sexiest Men Alive” issue the other day, for educational purposes of course, so I found this post particularly amusing. The pictures were all overtly sexual and completely obvious, yet I never perceived them as objectifying. It is interesting, and frustrating, that different standards of sexuality exist for men and women. I should probably qualify this by saying straight men. To my knowledge, none of the men showcased in the article identified as queer. Most of the men seemed to be getting really into it- the sexy pose, little clothing, suggestive look, yet in the interviews, they played it off as just having fun. While a woman posing suggestively or dancing naked in a music video implies objectification, men can do so as a joke, just for fun.

    Particularly applicable to the title of your post is Blake Shelton’s (I don’t know who he is either) video entitled “Too Sexy for New York” where he makes fun of the fact that he was listed in the top 100 sexiest people yet no one in New York seems to think so. In the video, he goes into a shop and buys the issue of People leaving it open to his photo, and gets excited when the cashier recognizes him. He then uses the magazine to try and pick up women, who appear to ignore him. While it is a rather dumb, only slightly funny, video, it is interesting to note that a women who has posed seductively in a magazine would never be able to parade around a city bragging and have it perceived the same way. It is an example of how overt sexuality works in different ways on males and females- males appear to be in control of how it is perceived while it is said that women are objectified by it.

  2. Well, the post and preceding comment discusses the issue on two levels so let me crystallize these different levels:

    1) Is the extent of male sexuality finite, or rather, does Social Constructs and Cultural Conditioning allow for a man who can be deemed as "oversexualized"?

    2) Is the socially constructed gender role for sexualized and indeed hypersexualized males one who's well-toned, with perfect hip-to-waist ratios, chiseled features, posing magestically and most importantly _heterosexual_ ? (Kudos to Alex for raising this point)

    To address the first issue: it does seem that there is no upper limit for male provocativeness and no threshold for downright narcissism and perversion. To illustrate this point, a male streaker is regarded as "admirable" and even "awesome", one who has the courage to run on par with humour. Girls bearing their boobs at a football game (sadly none this round since we lost to Stanford), are easily slapped with the "S word." What real difference is there? So yes, I do agree with Nayna - the thresholds for male and female sexuality (and perversion) should not be a double standard.

    Alex illustrates a good point on the fact that a sexually confident male is stereotypically heterosexual. The noose for sexualized homosexuality as the only acceptable sexuality has been tightened around boys' necks as early as when they can start perceiving and imitating social slights. Men on TV only check out women (and only attractive ones too), and never check out men (unless they've been labelled earlier as queer). We are confined into this tight little box for most of our lives - and the same goes for most of those controlling mass and social media - is it any wonder that the archetype of an alpha male being necessarily heterosexual continues to be perpetuated down the generations?

  3. I believe that women have a harder time when they are trying to “empower themselves and show off their sexuality.” If a tastefully nude male makes the front cover of a magazine it’s thought of as extremely sexy, but if a woman were to display herself to the world, it’s mostly thought of as distasteful and the advertisement is thought of as degrading to the woman. Looking at the pictures above, they seemed like normal male advertisements. The one featuring the man licking the chocolate off his hands might be going too far though. It makes the man more of a commodity and sex symbol like many women in the same position. For the most part I don’t think its fair that men can pose nude and have it be natural and masculine, while a woman doing the same thing becomes inappropriate.