Sporno

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Mark Simpson on how sport and porn got into bed — while D&G and Mr Armani took pictures.…

(Out magazine, May 2006; expan­ded for The V&A’s ‘Fashion V Sport’ cata­logue, June 2008. Also col­lec­ted in ‘Metrosexy’)

You might think that it was Italy’s greater ball skills, or stam­ina, or team spirit that won them the 2006 foot­ball World Cup. But you would be wrong.

Clearly, expli­citly, thrill­ingly, what won it for the Italians was not so much their sport­ing spirit as their sporno spirit. In the run-up to the tour­na­ment, some espe­cially fit play­ers from the Italian foot­ball team took time off from their train­ing and did some­thing much more use­ful: they recruited Dolce & Gabbana (or was it the other way around?) to pro­duce a spor­no­graphic fash­ion shoot of them all oiled-up and ready for us. In hind­sight, we can see that the world was already grov­el­ling at their feet from that moment on.

Sporno, the post-metrosexual aes­thetic that sports and advert­ising are using to sell us the male body is, well, irres­ist­ible. Even for a fine French team – who were, let’s face it, a much plainer bunch. First Portugal dev­ast­ate England because Ronaldo is bet­ter look­ing than Becks and far swoon­ier than Rooney, then Italy trounce France because the punters would much rather cel­eb­rate with the sweaty Italian stal­lions in the locker-room. The best men def­in­itely won.

In a spor­no­graphic age it’s no longer enough for the male body to be presen­ted to us by con­sumer­ism as merely attract­ive, or desir­ing to be desired, as it was in the early days of nakedly nar­ciss­istic male met­ro­sexu­al­ity. This mas­cu­line coquettish-ness, pleas­ing as it is, no longer offers an intense enough image. Or pro­vokes enough lust. It’s just not very shock­ing or arous­ing any more. In fact, it’s just too… nor­mal. To get our atten­tion these days the sport­ing male body has to prom­ise us noth­ing less than an immacu­lately groomed, waxed and pumped gang-bang in the showers.

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But of course, because this is sporno and not actual por­no­graphy, it remains just that: a prom­ise. Advertising and fash­ion are less inter­ested in mak­ing a fet­ish of the potent male body than its under­wear: com­mod­ity fet­ish­ism is usu­ally the name of the sporno game.

However, the homo­pro­voc­at­ive nature of sporno is much less easy to over­look than it was in early met­ro­sexu­al­ity, which could pre­tend when it wanted to that it was ‘straight’ and some­thing entirely for the ladies. Where met­ro­sexual imagery stole slyly from soft gay porn, sporno blatantly ref­er­ences hard gay porn.

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Sometimes you might be for­given for think­ing sport is the new gay porn. Sportsmen are now openly acknow­ledging and flirt­ing with their gay fans, à la David Beckham and fel­low foot­baller and Calvin Klein under­wear model Freddie Ljungberg. Both of these offi­cially het­ero­sexual thor­ough­breds have posed for spreads in gay magazines (Ljungberg appeared on the cover of Attitude in April 2006, Beckham in 2002), albeit sport­ing more clothes than they usu­ally wear when appear­ing on the side of buses.

Beefy England Rugby ace and mar­ried father of two Ben Cohen has expli­citly mar­keted a cal­en­dar of sexy (PG) pics of him­self at gay men, and talks of ‘embra­cing his gay fans’. Some, like Becks and smoothly-muscled Welsh Rugby ace Gavin Henson have even argued over them (Becks recently admit­ted that Henson had stolen a lot of his gay fans and he wanted them back because ‘I miss them.’).

Being found desir­able by gay men, once a source of ridicule by oth­ers and even viol­ent anger from the desired, now seems to mean you are worthy not just of love but also of large amounts of cash. A whole new gen­er­a­tion of young bucks, from twinky soc­cer play­ers such as Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who has mod­elled for Pepe, and Chelsea’s Fabulous Frankie ‘Legs’ Lampard, to rougher pro­spects such as Joe Cole and A.C. Milan’s Kakà pos­ing for Samsung and Armani jeans respect­ively, and the naked, pneu­matic rugby ‘pros’ of the legendary Dieux du Stade cal­en­dars, seems to be act­ively pur­su­ing Beckham’s and Ljungberg’s male sex-object, more than slightly tarty, status. The sports­man as erotic symbol.

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Being equal oppor­tun­ity flirts, today’s sporno stars want to turn every­one on. Partly because sports­men, like porn stars, are by defin­i­tion show-offs, but more par­tic­u­larly because it means more money, more power, more endorse­ments, more kudos. Sporno exploits the cor­por­ate show­biz dir­ec­tion that sport is mov­ing in, as well as the undif­fer­en­ti­ated nature of desire in a media-saturated, mirrored-ceiling world – and inflates their career port­fo­lio to gar­gan­tuan proportions.

Why is Euro soc­cer star Beckham a house­hold name in the United States, a coun­try that gen­er­ally has less interest in soc­cer than social­ism? Why did his recent move to the US to play for a team most Americans had never hear of pro­voke so much breath­less cov­er­age in the US media? Again, it wasn’t down to his soc­cer skills, but rather his sporno skills. Pictures of him semi-naked in Vanity Fair, or in W magazine, sport­ing skin-tight trousers that nev­er­the­less seem to be some­how pulling them­selves off, or that naked cam­paign for Motorola, in which the mobile phone dangles tan­tal­iz­ingly between his pert nipples, seem to be more ubi­quit­ous, not to men­tion more stir­ring, than images of him actu­ally play­ing football.

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And what could be more American? Sporno stars are pushy young hust­lers who are happy to be ogled undressed on Times Square bill­boards or in Vanity Fair – advert­ising a will­ing­ness to put out, or at least get it out, to get ahead. In cam­paigns like Ljungberg’s Calvin Klein unfor­get­table under­wear posters of 2006 or Beckham’s glob­ally gawked Armani briefs ads of 2008, their bod­ies and their bulges, blown up to gigantic pro­por­tions, are rammed down our throats by advert­ising. Most of us don’t appear to be gag­ging, however.

The male body has been well and truly, not to men­tion tastily, com­mod­i­fied. After dec­ades of being fet­ish­ized by gay men, jocks are now fet­ish­iz­ing them­selves. It was prob­ably inev­it­able. Men are tra­di­tion­ally the more visual of the sexes – and by far the greatest con­sumers of porn. So why not cut out the middle-women and pornolize your­self? Because of the fant­ast­ical mas­cu­line potency of sporno mil­lions of boys and men around the world are excitedly buy­ing clothes and under­wear worn or endorsed by their hero. And how could a guy, any guy, not have their head turned by a sporno star? Sporno stars have everything a man could want today: youth, vigour, money, fame, looks, equally beau­ti­ful bosom bud­dies, glam­or­ous part­ners – and the num­bers for top pho­to­graph­ers and stylists.

The people who essen­tially inven­ted sport, the Ancient Greeks, cer­tainly thought the male ath­lete the greatest head-turner. For them, sport was an oppor­tun­ity to wor­ship and admire the beauty of the youth­ful male form, which in turn rep­res­en­ted the free­dom of the human spirit. They thought it nat­ural that men would find the youth­ful ath­letic male form inspir­ing and desir­able, and an essen­tial part of the pleas­ure of sport. Most sports com­pet­i­tions, includ­ing the ori­ginal Olympics, were con­duc­ted naked: clothes spoiled the exper­i­ence, for ath­lete and spec­tator. Much of their mus­cu­lar art was a clas­sical ante­cedent of today’s sporno.

Admittedly though, many Greeks would prob­ably have been scan­dal­ized by the keen­ness of today’s golden young ath­letes to pose for images designed to inflame lust – and cash pur­chases. Plato for one would cer­tainly have been aghast at the neo-classical shame­less­ness of Dieux du Stade (‘Gods of the Stadium’). The phe­nom­en­ally suc­cess­ful, lux­uri­ous cal­en­dars fea­ture the Paris-based Stade Français rugby team and vari­ous well-endowed sport­ing guest stars from around the world re-enacting, you may be for­given for think­ing, the plot of every sports-themed gay porn vid. (Fashion pho­to­graph­ers rather than por­no­graph­ers take the pic­tures: Dolce & Gabbana favour­ite Mariano Vivanco was respons­ible for the par­tic­u­larly strik­ing 2007 images.) Shot in musty locker rooms, the naked, pumped and tweezed ‘gods’, often in full body make-up, clutch stra­tegic­ally placed rugby balls like fat leather erec­tions and gaze long­ingly into the cam­era, or into each other’s eyes.

Such brazen beha­viour has only enhanced the careers of these rug­ger bug­gers. Frédérik Michalak and his hyp­not­ic­ally tat­tooed and geode­smic butt’s star­ring role in an early DVD show­ing the mak­ing of the Dieux du Stade cal­en­dar, has helped land him mod­el­ling con­tracts for Christian Lacroix, a French con­dom line endorse­ment deal, as well as becom­ing the expens­ive face of Biotherm Homme and the sport­ing pack­age for a skimpy under­wear line.

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No doubt the Greeks would have been shocked even more by the way that women are openly enjoy­ing these homo­pro­voc­at­ive images too. In fact, the Dieux du Stade cal­en­dars were ori­gin­ally part of a mar­ket­ing plan to update and widen the appeal of French rugby, par­tic­u­larly for women, and have proved massively pop­u­lar: the 2007 cal­en­dar reportedly sold 200,000 cop­ies. But the sporno-graphic eye of Dieux du Stade is quite delib­er­ately, quite flag­rantly un-straight. Partly because some of today’s women are being turned on to the voyeur­istic charms of male-on-male action (in an echo per­haps of their boy­friends’ interest in female-on-female action), partly because it gets atten­tion – ‘whatareth­ose­guys­do­ing!’, and partly because, as we’ve seen, the ador­a­tion of gay men is the key to the suc­cess­ful mar­ket­ing of the male body. But mostly because this all-male exhib­i­tion­ism, whomever it’s dir­ec­ted toward, gay, straight or bi, female or male, is so charm­ingly, sub­missively keen to please. Especially from guys who live through action and the urge to dominate.

Check out the DDS ‘Making Of the 2004 Calendar’ DVD, or the ‘Making of’ DVD from any year really, and see them obed­i­ently adopt­ing the gay porno poses reques­ted of them by the pho­to­grapher, head placed on buddy’s shoulders, or head at buddy’s waist, hands on his per­fectly formed buttocks.

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The unin­hib­ited­ness of the rugby play­ers, in part a func­tion of the phys­ical intim­acy of the game itself, ends up being deli­ciously suited to the visual unin­hib­ited­ness of our times. How things – or rather, thighs – have changed. In the United Kingdom rugby tra­di­tion­ally was the sport of hairy beer mon­sters with nowhere else to go on a Saturday. But with pro­fes­sion­al­iz­a­tion, play­ers, par­tic­u­larly the more stream­lined backs, have become younger, fit­ter, and self-consciously sex­ier and their dance-cards are as full as their biceps. Blond, buffed, green-eyed, square-jawed, England International player Josh Lewsey, has been deployed to interest rugby fans in bul­ging lycra. A giant, god-like blow-up ‘bronze’ statue of him in his shorts was erec­ted out­side Twickenham rugby sta­dium in 2006 by his spon­sor Nike. Rugby fans queuing for their tick­ets had the dis­tract­ing pleas­ure of gaz­ing up between Josh’s tower­ing, flared thighs and at his ‘divine’ abs and pecs burst­ing out of a skin-tight Nike top.

Meanwhile the England rugby strip itself has been given some­thing of a Queer Eye makeover. Banished forever are their baggy, shape­less beer-towel rugby shirts, replaced by a form-hugging strip that might well have been designed by Jean Paul Gaultier. Understandably, England’s new sporno kit dazzled the oppos­i­tion: in 2003, the year the team deb­uted it, England won the Rugby World Cup for the first time ever. The latest ver­sion of it, intro­duced for the 2007 World Cup, saw them achieve second place des­pite being writ­ten off before­hand by pundits.

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No doubt this aston­ish­ing turn­around was down to their new strip being being even tighter than before and includ­ing a saucy red arrow/swoosh from armpit to the edge of the oppos­ite thigh, reportedly designed to con­fuse oppos­ing play­ers. Too right – they won’t know whether to tackle them or kiss them. A con­fu­sion that seemed to be exploited, albeit unwit­tingly, by the ‘C’est so Paris’ humor­ous advert­ising cam­paign pro­mot­ing the 2007 World Cup, which fea­tured snog­ging scrum­ming rugby play­ers and the jokey tagline ‘Paris: City of Love’ (the only far-fetched aspect of the cam­paign was the unat­tract­ive­ness of the ad’s faux rugby play­ers com­pared to the ‘real’ Dieux du Stade thing).

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In the more moneyed world of foot­ball, which has been a much big­ger busi­ness for much longer, the eye-catching potency of a sporno star seems to have dis­or­i­ent­ated even the tough no-nonsense guys who man­age foot­ball clubs – until you look at the bot­tom line. Despite some­what incon­sist­ent per­form­ances on the pitch, David Beckham is the world’s biggest-earning soc­cer player and the best known – because of his off-pitch pout­ing (most recently con­firmed by his 2007 £20 mil­lion Armani under­wear deal). His pur­chase in 2003 by Spain’s Real Madrid made them the most prof­it­able soc­cer club in the world – repla­cing Manchester United: Beckham’s pre­vi­ous club. Beckham is an object of global desire, and his mer­chand­ise moves even faster than his hips – his body is worth more on bill­boards than on the pitch. After mak­ing what was billed as the biggest sports deal in his­tory at £128 mil­lion, American team LA Galaxy is his new sporno stu­dio, and he their Number One box cover star.

There is, how­ever, another way in which British soc­cer play­ers are find­ing them­selves and their ath­letic prowess paraded on the front pages. A slew of kiss-and-tell art­icles have appeared in the tabloids in recent years about the pen­chant our young sports­men have for shar­ing a young female groupie with sev­eral other team mates. Simultaneously. Often video­ing the pro­ceed­ings. Sporting gods in naked, adult video action with other sport­ing gods. No won­der the tabs and the pub­lic got so excited. In recre­at­ing the more than slightly homo­erotic straight ‘gang-bang’ porn that they, like many other young men today are down­load­ing from the Net, foot­ballers are, wit­tingly or not, real­iz­ing the fantasy under­pin­ning sporno itself.

Things reached their logical, if slightly Footballers Wives con­clu­sion – their spor­no­graphic money shot – in 2006 when lurid stor­ies were ‘splashed’ across the tabloids about a ‘secretly shot film’ allegedly show­ing sev­eral glob­ally fam­ous (but unnamed) English soc­cer stars enga­ging in a ‘gay sex orgy’, in which expens­ive lim­ited edi­tion mobile phones were sup­posedly used as ‘sex toys’. Regardless of the fact or fever­ish fantasy of this story, no one seemed to be able to get enough of it. Except per­haps the foot­ballers them­selves – who were not only not mak­ing any money out of this par­tic­u­lar sporno spin-off, but also faced the threat of los­ing earn­ing poten­tial as a res­ult of the scan­dal (British libel laws how­ever quickly came to the res­cue provid­ing at least one player with a large, undis­closed sum). The response of many fans on the ter­race in the form of vicious anti-gay taunts and the con­tin­ued absence of any openly gay pro­fes­sional foot­ballers, sug­gest that cas­ual homo­pho­bia is as rampant in the cul­ture as sporno itself – which is more than slightly ironic.

A gen­er­a­tion of men may be entranced by images of glam­or­ous, sport­ing males who so clearly, achingly, desire to be desired by all and sun­dry, but it seems the expli­citly homo­erotic implic­a­tions of that still give quite a few of them the wil­lies, espe­cially in the highly-strung world of foot­ball.  Though this is per­haps merely a time-lag issue: atti­tudes take longer to change than underwear.

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Sporno stars them­selves, mov­ing in their celebrity circles, prob­ably don’t care two hoots whether a fel­low player likes bed­room part­ners with the same-shaped tackle, and may even be as pan­sexual as their advert­ising and fash­ion tastes por­trays them, but they worry very much about what their fans will think. After all, this is show busi­ness, darling, and you can’t afford to ali­en­ate your audi­ence – or, para­dox­ic­ally, those homo­erotic spor­no­graphic endorse­ment deals. While the state­ments of gay-friendly soc­cer stars such as Beckham and Ljungberg (and Cohen and Henson in rugby) have been sin­cere, thus far, actual homo­sex, or even bisex, rather than the faux vari­ety proffered by advert­ising appears to still be bey­ond  the pale. Sporno stars may pose gay but until now all of them have had to be offi­cially totally het­ero­sexual – as do all pro foot­ballers and, with one or two excep­tions, all rugby players.

Perhaps this is also the reason today’s soc­cer stars, who appear, way ‘gayer’ than their pre­de­cessors – accord­ing to The Sun, Manchester United’s locker rooms have recently had to be mod­i­fied to make room for play­ers’ ‘man­bags’, because ‘they use more cos­met­ics than their wives’ – no longer kiss one another pas­sion­ately after a goal is scored as they did just a few years ago. They have to main­tain the impres­sion, like many gay porn stars, that they’re only gay for pay.

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As for the pay­mas­ters them­selves, the fash­ion brands, while they cer­tainly wish to con­tinue chan­ging main­stream mas­cu­line atti­tudes towards clothes and the male body, it could be argued that a cer­tain amount of homo­pho­bia works to their bene­fit here: mak­ing sporno advert­ising more arrest­ing, more power­ful – and also help­ing to dis­place any homo­erotic feelings/anxiety they pro­voke into com­mod­ity fet­ish­ism: buy­ing the product instead of try­ing the fantasy it’s wrapped in. ‘Of course I don’t want the athlete’s desir­able looks/face/body/packet’, the hetero male viewer/voyeur of sporno per­haps says to them­selves – ‘I want his pants’.

Nevertheless, these are inter­est­ing if some­what con­flic­ted times. We shouldn’t under­es­tim­ate how far we’ve come and how dra­mat­ic­ally tra­di­tional male past-times such as foot­ball and rugby have changed in the last dec­ade as a res­ult of their col­li­sion with the worlds of fash­ion, celebrity and con­sumer­ism. Sporting male her­oes have enthu­si­ast­ic­ally taken up shock­ingly exhib­i­tion­istic sex-object poses in the global media that once were ana­thema for most men because they were seen as ‘girly’, ‘slutty’ or ‘homo’. Or, what was much the same emas­cu­lat­ing taboo in the male mind: pass­ive.

Sports starts have become sporno stars – play­ing enthu­si­astic power bot­toms to the public’s ima­gin­a­tion.  Stripping off, lying back, and think­ing of England… lust­ing over them.

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Unsurprisingly, this flag­rant passiv­ity rep­res­ents a taboo too far for some. As one out­raged middle-aged male (and, it prob­ably needs to be said, some­what plump and plain) BBC sports presenter thundered recently in a pop­u­lar British tabloid about Beck’s Armani lunch-box ad: ‘You’ve got money, status, respect and fame – then someone says: “Armani want you to do a pic­ture wear­ing tight white pants with your legs as wide open as the hole in England’s defence.” Why would you say yes?’

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Actually, in a spor­no­graphic age, the ques­tion should rather be: Why on Earth would you say no?

© Mark Simpson 2010

This essay is included in Simpson’s latest col­lec­tion: Metrosexy: A 21st Century Self-Love Story

Visit the Facebook sporno gal­lery here.

 

43 thoughts on “Sporno

  1. Heterosexual females can be aston­ish­ingly act­ive in their pur­suit of sexual pleas­ure. Even in films with pas­sion­ate inter­ludes, women are pic­tured in a “top” pos­i­tion, ren­der­ing the male fairly trapped under her weight and vigor.No one would claim that she was con­sequently act­ing the mas­cu­line role.

    I sus­pect that cul­tur­ally it is gen­er­ally the case that the male needs to ini­ti­ate and at least have an erec­tion. When I was tak­ing a gradu­ate course in Gender Studies, we stud­ied one cul­ture in which it was com­mon for groups of women to attack and “rape” men. Presumably ‚even if they were dis­ad­vant­aged phys­ic­ally, and held down, they respon­ded because of uncon­scious reactions.

    Nonetheless, I think that there are a cluster of actions which are related cul­tur­ally to belong to women and those to men.

  2. Yes, that was his con­clu­sion — that the most that can be said about ‘mas­cu­line’ and ‘fem­in­ine’ is that they cor­res­pond to ‘activ­ity’ and ‘passiv­ity’. But that even this isn’t neces­sar­ily ter­ribly helpful.

  3. The dis­cus­sion is fun, but I lost interest and did not read all of it…

    All I really know, is I like what I like.

    Selfish? Maybe.… I really don’t care what any­one likes unless it gets me more of what I like.
    As far as I’m con­cerned, the more men are treated as objects in arenas such as mar­ket­ing (as women have been for years), the more I get to see beau­ti­ful men.

    Sex sells, and I choose to believe that with the real­iz­a­tion that ALL humans (includ­ing women) are sexual creatures (bar­ring men­tal ill­ness sec­ond­ary to trauma or some other form of con­di­tion­ing), we finally get sexy mar­ket­ing dis­play­ing “per­fect” human spe­ci­mens of women AND men! Yay!

    Plastic sur­geons are prob­ably just as happy as myself.

  4. Alas, these rug­gby­ettes are one of the last paradigms of real rough and tumble man­hood that soci­ety holds up as unasail­able examples of “pure” man­hood unsal­lied by any of the squishy feman­ine qual­it­ies of abstract think­ing, back stabbing, coniv­ing: (any of the more or less effem­in­ate qual­it­ies adop­ted by todays busi­ness com­munity ) but still worthy of pay. The embod­iement of the blood and guts war­rior. Even women don’t seek an equi­val­ent role! That might be worse than a fag.

    It stricks me as being a really stu­pid remark tro assert that you are unqual­i­fied to sense homo­eroti­cism because you are gay. I don’t know that any­one else could. Appart from sure fire evid­ence that the play­ers were screw­ing one another, with reg­u­lar­ity, no wone would want to see through their pre­ju­di­cial views.

    I sus­pect that women, as much as any­one are afraid that there is real­ity to the assump­tion that in the pro­cess of being lib­er­ated, they are “cas­trat­ing” their men and becom­ing lost in the world as part of the male sex as it is; no longer objects of desire..

    Unlike Ruby play­ers, mem­bers of the AFL are not gen­er­ally thought of as any­thing more than non­sexual prop­erty; besides even in Hollywood our male star­lets don’t ever “come out ’”. This is Gods coun­try . People don’t want to know whether yet with whom play­ers have sex. Many of the play­ers are black and it would just not pre­vail at all., at
    if they were openly GAY. If they have a sex life it is kept under cov­ers.- bad enough that they date white girls. Imagine white boys!

  5. I like the way he keeps return­ing to the showers and the homo­erot­ics of AFL. He’s right of course, at least in the sense that often the more homo­erotic an envir­on­ment the more out gay men can seem to threaten the ‘inno­cence’ of all that.

    I think he’s bring­ing up some­thing that the main­stream media can’t really deal with — and so they say it’s all HIS prob­lem. I remem­ber hav­ing an argu­ment on BBC Radio 4 in which two sports journ­al­ists — both female — refused to accept that there might be ANYTHING homo­erotic about rugby. And asser­ted the only reason I would say such a thing was because I was gay.

  6. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/afl/stay-in-the-closet-jason-akermanis-tells-homosexuals/story-e6frf9ix-1225868871934

    Thought you might be intersted in this.

    Not a single AFL player has come out yet. This column sparked the most unc­tu­ous round of break­fast TV today. All these dumb ass main­stream TV hosts who earn half their salary’s being vaguely con­des­cend­ing towards homos were sud­denly get­ting piously indig­nant about this guy’s comments.

    Thing is, he aint say­ing any­thing that bad. I think it would be really dif­fi­cult for a gay AFL player to come out. He’s hardly Einstein though, and I really don’t under­stand his motiv­a­tion for writ­ing this crap any­way. What does he get out of it? I really don’t understand.

  7. Mark W.: I don’t con­fuse equal treat­ment with equal human rights. Like I said, I’m not a fan of objec­ti­fic­a­tion of any­one. Also, I’m not sure when the dis­cus­sion became about sex dif­fer­ences — if you want to get into it, there are more sim­il­ar­it­ies than dif­fer­ences between the sexes, most dif­fer­ences have small effect sizes, and there are more dif­fer­ences within the sexes than between. I’m not sure why a dis­cus­sion of bio­lo­gical dif­fer­ences res­ult­ing from ath­leti­cism is even rel­ev­ant. The dis­cus­sion is about com­mer­cial sexu­al­ity and objec­ti­fic­a­tion. For women, speak­ing as a woman, sex is all psy­cho­lo­gical — the brain is the largest sex organ. I appre­ci­ate visual stim­uli as much as the next gal, but I don’t think any of us appre­ci­ate blanket com­par­is­ons of the sexes that cast women as an anom­aly. We don’t need to talk to any deit­ies or have any­thing done to our brains to make us more like men.

    Also, just remem­ber that there’s often a lot more going on under­neath the sur­face, and more facets to a per­son than the ones you see. Even if someone is con­fid­ent now, that doesn’t mean that they always are or always were.

  8. straight only… I don’t know what cross sec­tion you are speak­ing of. I have known a num­ber of butch Dykes; Professors, attor­neys, even my own mother who had plenty of self assur­ance. Like with any mar­gin­al­ized group, like tran­sexu­als or drag queens or even gays they are mar­gin­al­ized and respond by either being aggres­ive or shy. Understandable.

  9. First of all,LOLA: it’s just plain silly to assert that objec­ti­fic­a­tion is any­thing new: indeed it is as old as sexu­al­ity. Only after Chritiandom and roman­ti­cism deemed that “love” had to be involved in spir­itu­ally san­it­ized sex, for the sake of (sorry but)satisfying female and Jesus’ sen­s­ativ­ity was objec­ti­fic­a­tion and self seek­ing derided mainly by the church and lat­ter in movies. Any healthy male (at least) knows that
    the more anonym­ous and imper­sonal sex is the more intrique­ing and sat­is­fy­ing it is. Nothing ruins good sex more than hav­ing to chat someone up and spend a lot of time in sub­com­mit­tee before going at it. That might be one shift of paradigms that wiould be helpful..

    In ser­i­ous­ness, i can see your the­or­et­ical point in want­ing to change paradigms in the way of ‘flat­ten­ing the play­ing feild”,for people who con­fuse being the same with hav­ing equal rights. Which even gay people do in America around Mainstreaming. However as Ms. P. points out ‚e.g the Venus of Willendorf, women are just nat­ur­ally made dif­fer­ently than men bio­lo­gic­ally. Even with ath­let­ics, women stop hav­ing peri­ods, car­ring a nor­mal level of body weight (for women to bear chil­dren, or just be healthy.
    Point being: the play­ing field can be flattened re legal rights; how­ever women are not going to nbe bio­lo­gic­ally like men unless you talk to God(Zeuz) or go to the bet­ter sex change doc­tors. Even then I don’t believe that women are likely to respond to visual stim­uli just like men unless some­thing is done to the brain.(Or maybe it’s just adding testoster­one): which boosts male libido.

  10. I can’t let this one pass:

    MWalsh : of butch les­bian, “unso­cial­ized […]these girls just don’t care what soci­ety thinks at all, least of all what their fag haged gay boy­friends think.”

    I must say, I have NEVER met a butch les­bian who wasn’t pro­foundly insec­ure about social accept­ance and objec­ti­fic­a­tion and how other people treat her. I don’t mean to bash, and many of them can be plenty nice and smart, but they are more timid and socially con­form­ist than little chil­dren among strangers. They wish they didn’t care what other people think, but inside their emo­tional rings, they’re so frightened they dare not exer­cise their taste in self presentation.

    Is it because they fear being “reduced” to sexual per­form­ance, in doing an aes­thetic social dance, or is it because they’re appre­hens­ive about fail­ing to live up to the spec­tacle of ath­lete or ped­es­trian, elev­ated to sexual symbol?

    I do find it queer that straight men seem bet­ter and more instinct­ive (once social­ized and edu­cated) at being hyper sexu­al­ized and macho fem­in­ine, than pretty much most women. We just have an instinct for fab­ulous that women don’t.

    If women were oppressed by such objec­ti­fic­a­tion, guys still have the upper hand because it is now our liberation.

  11. I think we need to remem­ber that objec­ti­fic­a­tion is not a new phe­nomenon just because it’s hap­pen­ing to men. Perhaps the powers that be in the media and mar­ket­ing are, in fact, real­iz­ing that there’s a mostly untapped con­sumer base to be found in body-conscious men, and the gazes of gay men and straight women, but please remem­ber — this has been hap­pen­ing to women in sports and in all kinds of advert­ising, even before the days of Mia Hamm, to the exclu­sion of female ath­leti­cism and its reduc­tion to a sexual performance.

    I’m not a fan of objec­ti­fic­a­tion, but I’m grimly pleased to see that males are now sub­ject to the “gaze.” I *am* a fan of “lev­el­ing the play­ing field” and “turn­ing the tables” — I like to see mus­cu­lar men reclin­ing in hyper-sexualized fem­in­ine and homo­erotic poses not only for my own jol­lies, but for the paradigm shifts it’s ush­er­ing in.

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