When someone says “hey, there’s almost no erotic imagery of men *by* women, and even less *for* women” it gets a pretty strong reaction, from men and women alike-
“I think the reason you don’t see people looking for male models here is because the photographers are flooded with offers already. It’s the female models, who are fewer in numbers, who are harder to find.”
“Part of the reason there isn’t much demand for that is because I don’t know many women who are turned on by pictures of men…I get the impression that more women than not agree with me and the het male community is simply never going to sign on for increasing their viewage of other guys. I think this is a battle you are mostly going to fight by yourself.”
“The 800 pound gorilla in this room that no one likes to talk about or admit is that MOST (not all, but MOST) people, both men and women, prefer looking at nude females to nude males. This even crosses gender preference lines to a point, it’s part of our programming in evolutionary biology (see some of the “ideal face” studies that show even babies look for certain sets of features) which dictates that the female form is more aesthetically pleasing.”
“It’s hard to find truly professional male models as a female photographer instead of guys who are just hoping to get laid.”
“Maybe it’s my genetic programming, but I just find the soft curves of a woman much more erotic than the hard planes of men. And yes, I’ve found it hard to find an erotic pose that didn’t just emphasise that “giant wang”!”
“The other point that I hear quite often is that men are more “visual” than women, men get turned on by the look of a woman and the outfit she is wearing, women are more into touch, feel and scent than looks. Of course this is a generalisation, but IMHO it contains a grain of truth.”
And of course that old gem,
“Obviously you’re not trying very hard…Have you tried the internet?”
None of the above commentary surprises me. It’s a typical reaction- first, that these images are out there, and that there’s tons of them if you know where to look, and secondly, that these images aren’t necessary because women aren’t visual/men’s bodies are inherently less aesthetically attractive.
I also want to address one comment that came out of left field- the suggestion that this was just a project I was starting because (summarizing here) my boy has body image issues, and that it didn’t have relevance to a wider audience. That this project should really just be between him, and I, and that outside of that it was “all sound and fury, signifying nothing”.
Another one is this crazy idea that women aren’t physically attracted to male bodies. I can’t help but wonder, if women didn’t find men’s bodies attractive, why would they be heterosexual..? It seems like it would be a biological imperative to find the male body attractive, at least for some of the population! And anyway, studies suggest that not only are women visually stimulated, they’re multisensory in their arousal… and often, what they think turns them on and what physically turns them on (and to what extent) aren’t in accord. Which makes me wonder- are women unlikely to be seen as consumers because they’re told that they’re not? Is this a chicken/egg thing?
Not only that, but considering this article suggests that women are starting to become active consumers of porn in their own right, I wonder if it’s helped by the fact that there’s been more porn put out there to appeal to couples (which usually means “hardcore enough for the guy while having enough story to catch a woman’s interest” though it can also mean “has sexy men and closeups of their bodies” too) and even some stuff specifically for women like Filament or For the Girls. Women are directing porn more often, and films showing real life couples and ethically produced films with a focus on genuine desire have become a lot easier to find. Tumblr has made it possible for photo collections including sexy men curated by women to be a lot easier to find. A few years ago this stuff didn’t exist, or at least I didn’t see any of it. I wonder to a certain extent if the push towards appealing to straight women has been helped along in part by the growing popularity of queer porn for a female market…
But this is all pretty new. So there hasn’t been enough material out there to really begin to say “yes, this works” or “no, it doesn’t work”. What I’ve found, however, is that women are becoming more and more comfortable with the public appreciation and consumption of the male erotic form- boylesque is a good example of this, for example. And we’re still fighting for that recognition- I went to a boylesque final heat in London, and despite the audience being 80% women, the panel was 4 gay men to 1 woman. We really have to fight to be heard.
So why? That’s part of why. I’ll give other entries with further reasons- look forward to me asking the sex positive community why we don’t objectify men equally (I mean, part of sex positive is about equal opportunity erotic objectification, right?) and why erotic images of men are so narrow in terms of ethnicity, age, body size, height, ability, etc. Stay tuned!
Additionally, I’m happy to take submissions of images to illustrate these posts while I work on creating a proper gallery- all I ask is that you send it to my email, with credit/source information, and that you look to Filament’s guidelines to get an idea of what will end up on this blog. Again, I’m looking for images of male-identified beauty for or from a female gaze.