First off, I want to say that I’m about to embark on reading both “Metrosexy” (which has been recommended by Quiet Riot Girl relating, I think, to disposing of the ideas of a male/female gaze in preference for a queer gaze) and “Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture” in order to understand a little bit more about various arguments against this idea of a female, male-objectifying gaze, from two (I’ll assume) very different standpoints. I’ll update later about each book and my response to it.. but before I take that journey I wanted to say a little something as my stance prior to investigating this whole thing from other viewpoints.
One of the things that I’ve found really interesting on announcing this project is the number of straight male photographers who are staunchly against this being an idea with any merit. Most of the opposition so far has been from them. Not all, but most. Sometimes it’s because they think that women aren’t visual, or because they think there’s enough cock on the web to please women, but also sometimes because they think a project focused on investigating, discoursing, and exploring a female gaze is ignoring or discrediting the male gaze on other men (a point that QRG also brought up).
To which I want to say “whoa nelly”.
I am ALL ABOUT men gazing at other men through whatever lens they like. And I think the gay male subculture should equally be taken to task for body image, but I also know, as I’m not a male looking at other men, that I’m not the best person to do it. It’s a worthy project though, and I think it should be done! But frankly, gay men are a lot better at making some sort of space (and visual points of reference) for various male beauties, even if that can often be able-bodied, cissexist, and racist. It’s still a lot better than what’s offered to women.
But I have some issue with the idea that a project about male beauty *must* involve men as the gazers in some way. Why? There’s been some great stuff created for women who enjoy looking erotically at other women (“On Our Backs” comes to mind as a great example, sadly no longer with us, though Cyberdyke, No Fauxxx, The Woman’s POV, and Pink and White are also excellent). I wonder, sometimes, if straight male photographers scolded these women, asking them why they felt the need to start queer porn sites for women, considering there was PLENTY of girl on girl for them to enjoy!
Sounds ridiculous? It does to me too. So why not something focused on women who like looking at men?
That said, if you want a site that’s simply about male beauty for all gazes, check out Heavenly Spire:
HeavenlySpire is a Shine Louise Houston creation for the purpose of masculine appreciation. HeavenlySpire focuses on masculine beauty and sexuality and how it manifests on different bodies.
Following the same vision as Houston’s previous projects HeavelySpire focuses on capturing genuine pleasure with a unique cinematic style.
One of the photographers there emailed me to say they’re a fan of what I’m trying to do, and fingers crossed I’ll be able to give you all a review of what they’re doing at Heavenly Spire.
The fact that there’s a bunch of projects popping up around this idea of a change in how the erotic male nude is displayed and offered out to consumers says to me that not only is there a market for this, there’s a desire for it, a change of market, and a shift in consciousness.
Hopefully I’m right, cause then there’s a straight male photographer out there that owes me a bottle of Hendrick’s.
(I want to note that the image on this post is from a thread all about women commenting on sexy men in music… so… obviously women think about this stuff all on their own)