Male nudity: Do women like to watch?
It’s common knowledge that men like to perve on women. But what about the reverse? Do chicks want man-p*rn to stick up in their workshops and ogle over with their mates during homoerotic poker games?
Do women like to watch?
The editor of a new mag offering photos of nude men and their dangly bits answers with a resounding “you bet”.
Suraya Singh – a publisher who’s been dubbed the female Hugh Hefner – started Filament magazine because she was irritated by what she calls the weird mythology about women and sex.
Weird mythology such as women not being turned on by visuals, women solely being interested in the romance side of sexuality, women only liking mega-muscular alpha males, and so on.
“None of this matches with what academic research says about women and attraction,” Singh says. “Filament is inspired by the rocket science that women have brains and eyes. It’s the thinking woman’s crumpet.”
Filament’s offices are based in London but 15 per cent of its readers (as well as several of its most prolific female photographers) live in Australia where the mag can be purchased in respectable book shops such as Borders.
The Australian Classification Board has just given it a rating of Category 1 Restricted, which means it must be sold in an opaque modesty bag – and only to certified adults.
Singh thinks this is a bit rough given that most of her covers are tamer than what you’d find on Cosmo.
“But at least the magazine is available,” she says. “We can’t get on newsstands in the UK because distributors are still running the line that it’s illegal to publish erections.”
Issue 7 of Filament– which will be available here early next month – is hardly stiffy city. I could only spot two and a half of the offending organs in anything other than recliner mode.
But its 75 pages are certainly chock-full of beefy (as well as pale, androgynous) goodness.
Ranga lovers are catered to with a comprehensive cover spread called Ginger Gents. There’s a Mexican day of the dead-themed couples shoot, as well as a cute, eye-lined philosophy student from Portland wearing sparkly scarlet nipple paint.
Not all the pin-up dudes would normally pop my cork, but there really is something delightful about seeing male bodies presented as objects of erotic beauty.
It’s a fine example of the way scopophilia – a Freudian concept referring to the pleasures of looking – can operate as a force for respectful good rather than oppressive evil.
Equally excellent are the sexy shots of effeminate men who don’t conform to the current macho requirements of blimp-sized biceps and geometric jaw lines. This he-T&A is far more Michelangelo’s David than California’s Arnie.
Many women will also appreciate Filament’s presentation of female sexuality as assertive and in-control.
The magazine’s existence alone confounds the cliché of women as passive and libido-less. But, in case you missed the subtext, current and back issues also cover topics such as female sexual dominance (aka femdom), male burlesque (aka boylesque) and beginners’ guides to pegging.
I won’t go into too many details about the latter, but I can reveal you’ll need to spend several hundred dollars on a comfy and sturdy harness.
If you’re the type who only buys saucy magazines for the interesting articles, Issue 7 also contains a piece called ‘In Search of the Sexiest Communist’ which awards Soviet diplomat Alexandra Kollontai five red sickles for overall sexiness compared to Leon Trotsky’s two.
Perhaps future editions will keep the political balance by offering similar ratings for members of America’s ultra conservative Tea Party. Christine O’Donnell could be awarded five fake Obama birth certificates for outstanding achievements in the Non-Masturbating Teen Witch division.
What you won’t find in Filament is the usual glossy mag fare about how many babies Angelina adopted this month, or which tragic microfrock what’s-her-face wore to that red carpet thingy.
Filament’s selling points include its status as a fashion-, diet- and celebrity gossip-free zone, as well as the fact that all its male models are shot by women.
The latter presents quite a challenge given that Singh estimates there are only about 10 female photographers in the world who specialise in capturing men as erotic subjects.
“The rest of us have disowned our eyes,” she says. “We need to claim them back.”
As for Hefner, the former civil servant is all in favour of pajama-focussed fashions. But she’s not big on Mr Playboy’s restrictive focus on a single stereotype of womanhood: the disinhibited good-time girl who doesn’t have a care in the world (except, perhaps, for how to make her hair even blonder and her boosie wah wahs even bigger).
Call her twisted, but Singh is into the bent fancy of depicting sensuality in ways that humanise rather than degrade.
“There’s a growing anti-porn movement at the minute,” she says. “I agree with what they’re saying on many counts: there is a huge amount of demeaning and damaging material out there.”
But she points out that even doyens of the anti-porn movement such as Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon make distinctions between pornography and erotica, arguing that pornography demeans its subject while erotica depicts equality.
“Of course this isn’t a failsafe definition,” Singh continues, “but it’s better than the one that’s largely in the public mind which is that what is objectionable is that which is explicit.
“I can’t count the number of times a journalist who wanted to write about Filament has been told by her editor that she it won’t be published because ‘that would be saying that bad porn is okay’.”
On the subject of bad porn, Singh is doing her best to deal with reader requests for hotter models, more spontaneous-looking scenes and sexier facial expressions.
The subjectivity inherent in such demands makes pleasing everyone an impossibility, but she says reader criticisms often line up with the direction in which she’s hoping to take the magazine.
“Filament was recently reviewed by a woman who said – of the photography – that the men don’t largely look like they want to eat you up, which led to me directing a photo-shoot aiming to capture that.
“It’s difficult, though. What you’re witnessing here – women’s erotic photography of men – is not an art in its infancy, but an embryo of an art. We have over 100 years of men’s erotic photography to catch up with.”
It’s a long, hard road but we’ll know we’re there when a magazine featuring nude men with staples through their stomachs is no longer news.
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