A Feminist Take on Weiner-gate

‎”Personally, I’m glad that we’re entering an era where men are toying with the idea that their bodies might have some aeshetic value that women may appreciate. It opens the door to other ideas that we need to embrace as a society, the first being that because you can look at someone with lust doesn’t mean that you should stop looking at them as a full human being with full human rights.”

The full post, In defense of nekkid pictures, even of dudes, on the blog Pandagon is here.

10 thoughts on “A Feminist Take on Weiner-gate

  1. Comment from the post linked above:
    “Great comment from a discussion thread about the Thor movie (paraphrased): “I’ve heard all about this male gaze thing. But when Chris Helmsworth showed up on screen with his shirt off and low-cut jeans, for the first time, I was like, ‘That’d be the female gaze then.’””

    This is why I loved Casino Royale. They had Daniel Craig come out of the water in a shot that was normally reserved for the bond girls. It was a instance of a “man-as-sexual-object gaze” in an otherwise androcentric movie series.

    It’s hard to engage in this discussion though and not slip into het-normative thinking myself, since the “male gaze” is normally the “male het” gaze.

  2. Let me just mention for discussion what may be the more common interpretation; it isn’t that men are changing, but rather they assume women have the same visual tastes as they do. They really like seeing private parts of women, and so they assume we like seeing theirs. But, the story goes, we don’t.

    This take seems to me to draw on the idea that men are more aroused by visual input than we are. Maybe we could run some experiements…

  3. I agree with jj above that heterosexual women don’t find men’s private parts as interesting as heterosexual men do women’s. Not sure about the bisexual imagination.

    As I reflect on why men in powerful positions get involved in sex scandals, one hunch I’ve often had takes more and more root: that some men with power seem to have a compulsive need for reassurance that they are attractive or likeable (not necessarily physically only, but for being benevolent or oth erwise charming). Having a steady relationship in their personal life doesn’t lessen this compulsive need at the workplace. I wonder though why women who have a steady relationship with or marry such men do not see through this. Is the charm too strong for the hesitations and questionings to prevail?

  4. Db, thanks – seriously – for the reminder of how heteronormative the discourse can becomes, including mine.

    I was in fact not really endorsing the view I mentioned. However, I am going to refrain from trying to sum up and report on feelings about bulging underpants.

  5. This take seems to me to draw on the idea that men are more aroused by visual input than we are. Maybe we could run some experiements…

    I can’t quite tell if you’re just joking here or not, but there have been such experiments. I won’t go into the details of how they were done (they get a bit graphic) but it’s safe to say that there should be very serious worries about whether the quite significant ways that the experimental set-up differed from more “normal” environments might have had an impact on the results.

  6. I don’t buy the premise that the c*ck shot was intended for the benefit of the woman. Do men show their genitalia on ChatRoulette because they think women will enjoy it? Obviously not. Some men get a thrill from showing people their genitalia. It has nothing to do with “men … toying with the idea that their bodies might have some aeshetic value that women may appreciate”.

  7. Thanks jj. Not sure bulge in the underpants would be very productive to discuss about here, but what bothers me is that a lot of men who ostensibly espouse minoritarian discourses of all kinds and pose as feminist-sympathizers get away with these patterns of behaviour. For every male public figure exhibiting such behaviour, there are probably 10 male academics indulging in the same kind of behaviour, immune from the risk of notoreity by the sheer fact that they are not equally visible in public life, and of course that those who are at the receiving end are almost always the ones on whose professional futures they have the greatest power. Sorry if I sound too sceptical about anti-harassment policies, but that’s how I think about them.

    Frannie, you have a point there about ‘exhibitionism’.

  8. Frannie & db: My understanding (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong)–and this seems to be one of pandagon’s central points–is that the photo was solicited, which is fundamentally different from sending unsolicited photos. In the context of sexting/ (erotic) internet flirtation, risqué photographs make perfect sense. The problem with chat roulette is that you get nudity when in fact you’re expecting a face and a brief conversation (you don’t consent to the crotch shots). And if anyone is busy sending/mailing unsolicited nude pics, then that is a serious problem and breach of consent. But that’s different from sending a crotch shot to someone who asks for a sexy picture (which isn’t to say the crotch shot is necessarily sexy–you might, after all, miscalculate and draw the wrong inferences from the other person’s remarks).

  9. // Well, you know what never happens when a naked picture that a woman sent to a paramour gets out? The “ewwww” reaction. No one ever says, “Why would any man want to see that?!” or suggest that the distinction between wanted and unwanted pictures is unimportant because there’s no such thing as a man who would find it arousing to have that kind of picture sent to him. To use some radfem terminology on you, that’s because we think of women as the sex class, and the viewing of their bodies as sexual things as normal and natural, but to do that to men is considered feminizing and therefore “gross”. //

    Never thought of it that way. I am probably speaking for myself here but I find certain pictures of naked men more attractive than others. Take for instance the footballers picture I used while carrying out a survey here: http://efemenaoreoluwa.blogspot.com/2011/04/you-deserve-to-be-sexually-assaulted.html I found it tasteful. I certainly will find a picture of a penis gross but mainly because it is genuinely gross to look at.
    On another note I also find that most forms of male nudity has a hint of hilarity in it, as if it isnt to be taken as seriously as female nudity.I wonder why….

    Thanks for sharing anyway

    p.s follow me on http://efemenaoreoluwa.blogspot.com and I will follow you back asap xxxx

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