MichaelOsborneGodsofFootbal[6]

Sporno

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

 

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?’

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.

  12. “I’m fond of Judith Butler and Foucault as much as anyone”

    EEeeewwwwww.

  13. To sum Paglia up as an evolutionary psychologist is failing to see the forest for a tree or two: her worst critics fail only in that they fail to see the whole. Freud is more seminal than anyone, which you may not like either if you just judge him for some of the things he says. I’m fond of Judith Butler and Foucault as much as anyone. Clearly it never pays to be rigid (about eveything at least).

  14. I can’t say enough for Demond Morris’ work on walking cats and dogs. Otherwise, I can’t figure out why he bothers to “study ” anything. Are you serious?

    I’m serious when I say that neither of us fit into Morris’ account of Nature (with a capital N). Morris spouts fairly typical evolutionary psychology, much like Paglia. I dislike both of them.

    Men who desire men are an aberation, according to Desmond Morris. I don’t know what he thinks about women who desire men in the way I do, because he does not acknowledge that we exist. It makes me rather sad – I’d quite like to have an insulting yet inclusionary explanation for my sexual ‘abnormality’!

  15. The construction”pretty boy” is derogatory in origin, meaning not the literal derivation but rather that a man was attractive but worthless or worse much otherwise. Men who are attractive physically have to work hard to prove their value as people. It is more or less equivolent to calling a woman a bimbo. Generally men can be “handsome” which possibly implies sexy too. I think that your use of the “pretty boy”expression is a little aberant–“cute” might be more applicable to a street hoodie. In fact that is possibly more what you are looking for.

    I would be the last person to ever submit that women couldn’t be “power bottoms” , indeed i know they can be very aggressive on top as well. Both my first and last female sex partner was a danger to life and limb in the throws of passion, despite being a small constriucted woman ! I was prepared though:from boyhood it was always a puzzle to me to comprehend how my father could ever tackle mom; who was a rugger bugger by any standard. Indeed, had she discovered it on time, she would have happily fit right into one of those rugby line ups.

    I can’t say enough for Demond Morris’ work on walking cats and dogs. Otherwise, I can’t figure out why he bothers to “study ” anything. Are you serious?

  16. Women clamouring for the pretty boy have always just wanted a male girlfriend- not someone to fuck the daylights out of them-which is the last thing that pretty boys are inclined to do-to anyone in fact..

    I think you are using the phrase ‘pretty boy’ differently to the way I understand it. I just mean a man who is undeniably pretty – I’ve seen teenaged hoodies in the street whom I would call pretty. Either way, I’ve met pretty boys who can fuck very well indeed. And women can be power bottoms too, you know.

    Re; the notion that “eye candy is eye candy” is a a silly generalization for anyone who has had his eyes open long; we have preferances: e.g. a guy who is a top generally gets excited seeing a shapely behind. This aspect would never be as critical to a bottom. There is a great difference beween an aesthetic appreciation for a well conformed body as in marble or on a horse, and the sexual anticipatory leer.

    I could tell you that I am well aquainted with the ‘sexual anticipatory leer’, but I fear you would yet again fail to understand or believe me. May I ask – do you think all female sexuality is inherently passive/submissive? I get the impression that you do, and will not easily be convinced otherwise.

    Also as Ms. P. so aptly pointed out, womens’ (praiseworthy) role in life is to have babies. In a primative state males hunt her down, not vice versa just as with all mammalian species. It’s only since women started putting a word in about reproduction etc. that civilization took a dive.

    I am always nonplussed by gay men who argue for evolutionary psychology. Surely you should be on my side here, Mark W! I mean, neither you nor I make any sense according to Desmond Morris.

  17. Oh, and I must acknowledge: denied an American female astronaut until the 1980s and even until today denied a woman president of the USA, women are still not societally permitted to enjoy visual eroticism the way men are.
    So that might be a factor.

  18. I can’t believe I actually pushed this down into the (non existent) visual world of 1980s Dworkinite butches.

    I wanted to know how the adonis look of today, with big daddy athlete muscles and truant, pretty face is working on the women!

    The greater (much, indeed) use of visual pornography by men than women is hardly a purely visual affair. Just because pornography is favored in visual form by males and alphabetical form by females, doesn’t mean that “pornography” is the common variable in that equation and the differing factor is the visual/linguistic split. Perhaps the “pornography” that the male is using is phenomenally different than the “pornography” that the female is using. Not just different by medium but different in purpose, pleasure, neurosis. The whole sexual approach to pornography may be significantly different and the split between words imagined and images worded may be just the tip of the iceberg. If pornographic use determines visuality in favor of the male, fashion magazines determine visuality in favor of the female. Girls can just “stare” at each page of a fashion magazine forever, no matter how banal the image. Guys only look through them (or used to, when the models were more exciting) to catch the sexiest pics. How men read metro magazines would be a question I can’t address. For myself it’s selectivity of the issues that feed my narcissism. That and ugly english gals with giant knockers. But a boring image in there doesn’t get my attention. Does that mean my eye is more actively critical? Or less active and hence needs greater stimulation?

    The seemingly inferior visuality of women in the smut department may also be a function of female hypocrisy. They like to witness sex but they also like the power that goes with not actively seeking out such voyeuristic experience: respectability.
    (and of course they then blame men twice. once as “perverts” who look. and then secondly as “patriarchs” who don’t allow women to look in turn. All the while these same girls are seeing it all and no one is trying to stop them.)

    If this relates to hunter versus nesting/gathering, then it’s too biologically developed (in stages of many millenia) to be affected by consumer culture and female independence.
    In fact, even if it were based on socialization and social norms, women have been virtually totally equal in economic, professional, political, sexual life for about two generations, so there’s no social memory of any “oppression” for young women today. (Despite bromidic, sub-scholarly lectures of sexism and genderless identity in university humanities courses).

    It could be argued that most mature women, particularly truly equal consumer-producers in any urbanized, affluent society, have ALWAYS merely wanted a male girlfriend. It’s looking more and more that, that’ s all that men want, too. No more mushy macho posing for one another, most of us will now buddy up for a trip to the salon instead. WithOUT irony.
    The most common complaint of and about straight males (from sissy to superviking) who enter into any kind of serious relationship with a woman is that they’ve been “reigned in” and domesticated, turned into lustless, cozy, softies under the thumb of their domineering-by-constant-bitching, henpecking lady/wife.
    This MIGHT make me sound like a flower (I hope, if I’m lucky!), but although fucking a chick’s brains out may give her some satisfaction, the jerky, assertive spontaneity of the kind of guy they think will do that may be a higher price than the ladies feel a “servicing” is worth. As we said back in the day in Prussia, they like sausages but not to see them made.

    This isn’t to say that there aren’t enough enlightened couplings involving sophisticated metros who can fuck their brains out (either a chick’s or their own, toys and all).

  19. Mark S. Don’t speak (at least publicly) for everyone over 40. Especially when some of us have reputations to keep up! Imagine someone describing our your sexual performance as “pulling taffy” before trying. Bad
    Melody, i’ve been pretty observant of societies demands that I please women sexually- and would say unambiguously that performance is more important than anything and is only percieved with age. I don’t think they have any idea as to what to look for as adolescents. Unlike men, whose attraction occures way before experiece-on sight- (althouhgh it does get refined with experience ) . Also as Ms. P. so aptly pointed out, womens’ (praiseworthy) role in life is to have babies. In a primative state males hunt her down, not vice versa just as with all mammalian species. It’s only since women started putting a word in about reproduction etc. that civilization took a dive. The only feature of sexuality which women seem to have in common with males is sadomasochism, which we both seem to enjoy- but that’s more of a visceral activity, than a visual one.
    straight only in bed. Butch lesbians are probably the closest approximation to the authentic unsocialized females response to looks– appearance is relatively unimportant (this can be relied upon because these girls just don’t care what society thinks at all, least of all what their fag haged gay boyfriends think. Women clamouring for the pretty boy have always just wanted a male girlfriend- not someone to fuck the daylights out of them-which is the last thing that pretty boys are inclined to do-to anyone in fact..

    Re; the notion that “eye candy is eye candy” is a a silly generalization for anyone who has had his eyes open long; we have preferances: e.g. a guy who is a top generally gets excited seeing a shapely behind. This aspect would never be as critical to a bottom. There is a great difference beween an aesthetic appreciation for a well conformed body as in marble or on a horse, and the sexual anticipatory leer.

    While sexually mature women generzally pick the same qualities that a gay bottom does, it is unlikely except in the case that a woman works at doing clisters on pretty men with an electric device near hand for her immediate gratification (as we would be looking for paired responses). Didoes are getting to be popular: maybe a two ended arangement with a very adventuresome straight man. That would be the greatest attack on the ‘family system” since birth control.. Indeed if you can get enough straight guys into nonpenile sex you might beat much unwanted pregnancy and straight HIV in a single fell swoop.

  20. It’s certainly true straightonlyinbed that most people are less visual than gay men. Many gay men are less visual than gay men. Especially after we hit 40.

    I wouldn’t claim to know What Women Want – partly because such claims are difficult to dis-enentangle, as Melony has observed, from What Women Should Want. And because I’ve never really tried very hard to please women. Or even men for that matter.

    The generalisation that men are more visual than women – which I’ve made myself – has quite a bit of evidence to suggest it’s true, not least men’s enormous consumption of porn, but this doesn’t mean that this will always be the case. Or that there aren’t a lot of women out there right now who are even more voyeuristic than me and have much kinkier, and probably much more enjoyable ideas about what to do with a prone pair of sporting male buttocks.

  21. M.Walsh seems to be describing a cultural norm which was longed for 10 years ago by “retrosexuals” who couldn’t adapt to the renewed aesthetic of the beautiful boy, because they identified that archetype with femininity. A kind of unmanning, demasculinized male trying to fit in with what materialist women wanted.

    Yep. The whole metrosexual movement is alarming to people who think that primping one’s self to invite a sexual gaze is inherently feminine. Often the people who moan about manscaping are the same ones who find a woman with unshaven legs repulsive and ‘unnatural’ (?!)

    This standard only really make sense if you define masculinity as ‘most acceptable in it’s unaltered and unadorned state’ and femininity as ‘unacceptable and incomplete in it’s unaltered and unadorned state’. Pretty harsh, if you ask me.

    Eye candy is eye candy. The leap to coupling introduces non visual stimuli that change the rules of the game significantly. In my best gay “persona”, I’ll venture: how many of us have seen a boy who was less than the statue at the gallery, at closing time, wearing a scrappy outfit but with shiny hair, and been itching to have a run on him?

    As to the strange case of statuary, I can honestly say that I have on more than one occasion been more aroused by proportional greek (and other) statues of both sexes than almost ever by living humans. Those marbles are BUILT!

    But to say that women are less inherently visual than “men” has always seemed dubious. Everyone is less visual than gay men. I’d hazard a joke that everyone is also more visual than the worst of butch lesbians. But they may just more complicated, not less visual. Emotional issues do tend to cloud the mind. Not to mention the eye.

    Now this is insightful….

    I think you mght be right about women being no less visual, but possibly more complicated. As I said before, I think most women do have spontaneous, visceral responses to visual stimuli – but they also have visceral responses to non-visual stimuli. Whichever gets the upper hand depends on a whole host of factors that are too many to list.

  22. You may be right, Melody, about the spontanaity and male like sexual attraction of females to visual stimuli. This is not a common belief, since women are considered generally and atavistically to base their selectivity on characteristics like power, wealth, an ability , at least, to take care of potential offspring etc.

    Some women do select partners on the basis of wealth and power, but I’ve never thought that has much to do with what actually gets them wet. I think for women, sexual attractiveness and mate selection are often two different things. Women are strongly discouraged from making sexual attraction a priority when choosing a mate. If you do reject a ‘suitable’ man on the grounds that he just doesn’t do it for you, you’re liable to be labelled shallow or picky. It sucks, but the world generally doesn’t place much value on women’s sexual satisfaction. I think this is a carry-over from when women were economically dependant on men – i.e., selecting a man based on wealth was a rational thing to do because you were unlikely to accrue any wealth of your own. Women have not had widespread financial independance for very long, so it makes sense that this standard still lingers.

    Also I find some images problematic, such as with the butt shots, the desire of which comforms to a learned behavior (penetration) which requires male equipment. Also I think that the two lovely Frenchmen, cuddled togeter, would make most females feel left out because they appear to be happy with one another.

    The ass-up position does it for me, and I don’t have the equipment. I think that position has connotations of submission and invitation outside of a penetrative context, and that can be appealing to some women. Aren’t the male buttocks inherently attractive though? Women certainly remark upon them a lot when discussing a man’s attractiveness – surely even you are aware of this? As for the two Frenchmen… loads of women love guy-on-guy, hell, Mark S. even wrote an article about it. Feeling ‘left-out’ is neither here nor there, because the pleasure is principally voyeuristic.

    Yiou would not be alone in your scorn of Ms.P., some others of us though regard her as a genious, and certainly a brave spokesperson for alternative thought.

    Fair enough. But she says nothing to me about my life.

  23. Yes, the pretty hairless bear is all things to all women. And maybe, only one unlucky man.

  24. I wonder at what speed society is “moving”.
    M.Walsh seems to be describing a cultural norm which was longed for 10 years ago by “retrosexuals” who couldn’t adapt to the renewed aesthetic of the beautiful boy, because they identified that archetype with femininity. A kind of unmanning, demasculinized male trying to fit in with what materialist women wanted.
    Retrosexuality came about after 30 years of proto metrosexuality, the feminine, pretty boys of the sixties, 70s and eighties. With the rise of buxom supermodels in the 90s and the simultaneous mainstreaming of gay political correctness and bourgeois, yuppie gays, the whole pretty boy look seemed dormant.

    In the proto-metrosexual age as well as in the current one, enough women seem to clamor for the pretty boy as opposed to the bear.
    It remains to be seen the extent to which they clamor for the hyper athletic fusion of hairless bear and pretty boy. He seems a ubiquitous archetype in advertising and chick flicks, yet culturally weak and strangely invisible. I don’t hang around athletes after the game to count the supposed groupies, so go ahead and tell me what you’ve seen. I’ll be dying of jealousy.

    Eye candy is eye candy. The leap to coupling introduces non visual stimuli that change the rules of the game significantly. In my best gay “persona”, I’ll venture: how many of us have seen a boy who was less than the statue at the gallery, at closing time, wearing a scrappy outfit but with shiny hair, and been itching to have a run on him?

    As to the strange case of statuary, I can honestly say that I have on more than one occasion been more aroused by proportional greek (and other) statues of both sexes than almost ever by living humans. Those marbles are BUILT!

    But to say that women are less inherently visual than “men” has always seemed dubious. Everyone is less visual than gay men. I’d hazard a joke that everyone is also more visual than the worst of butch lesbians. But they may just more complicated, not less visual. Emotional issues do tend to cloud the mind. Not to mention the eye.
    Before you get a tissue for that issue, you may wish to see just how many other straight people are as emotional and inaesthetic as stereotypical butches. (Do you see who’s walking around together out there? )
    That’s why I always got so confused when hearing feminist women in the media announcing that low self esteem and lonliness on the part of women was due to those “impossibly pretty” magazine models. what the hell were they talking about? Walking around any anglo country, you’ll notice that looks seem to have little bearing on women’s ability to attract a mate.

  25. You may be right, Melody, about the spontanaity and male like sexual attraction of females to visual stimuli. This is not a common belief, since women are considered generally and atavistically to base their selectivity on characteristics like power, wealth, an ability , at least, to take care of potential offspring etc.
    Also I find some images problematic, such as with the butt shots, the desire of which comforms to a learned behavior (penetration) which requires male equipment. Also I think that the two lovely Frenchmen, cuddled togeter, would make most females feel left out because they appear to be happy with one another.

    Yiou would not be alone in your scorn of Ms.P., some others of us though regard her as a genious, and certainly a brave spokesperson for alternative thought.

  26. Let’s return to the original point of contention – whether females would/could have any real sexual attraction to these kind of images. I would argue that majority of straight women do find sporno arousing. Furthermore I know many women who think the ‘C’est so Paris’ ad is one of the hottest things they’ve ever seen in mainstream media (Doesn’t do much for me though – as Mark S. said, real rugby players are hotter).

    My opinion of Camille Paglia is that almost everything she writes is wrong and stupid.

  27. Actually, when your get into subjects such as metrosexuality, there is an overlapping of narcisism and
    aesthetic interest. That gives the way that men and women are involved in the phenomenon different.

  28. Not at all oppositional to everything: You’re right in the territory of my discussion: My point is that for men that which is pleasing to the eye is the same as what is sexually alluring. For women they are generally different things. Check out, e.g.,Camille Paglia’s ‘Sexual Personae”.

  29. Ok, I think we are talking about two different things here – visual representations of men, and formative sexual contacts with actual people. Obviously enjoying an image of a man and having sex with a man are two very different things. I was talking about how my childhood experiences have influenced my visual consumption of men, and have probably biased the kinds of images and representations I find appealing. You seem to have decided to take an oppositional stance against anything I say, and I think that’s diverting us from the original discussion, which was specifically about looking at men.

    My formative experiences with men clearly had thieir start with pubescent school contacts in the locker room, something which few girls have the pleasure of enjoying . This is far more visceral than pictures of statuary, or even real (cold) statues)-which would be less fun in bed, at least by my standards..

    As an aside, the boys’ locker room may be off-limits to most girls, but pubescent ‘contacts’ certainly aren’t.

  30. For some men, I’m sure that they follow social cues in picking men, just like they do in cloths. These are.,as far as I’m concerned pretty vacuous, inauthentic men. The theories about experience generated affectional interest are assumed generally to start with more primitive childhood prepubesant experiences with dad and often in women at least that seems to be a more predictable beginning.

    My formative experiences with men clearly had thieir start with pubescent school contacts in the locker room, something which few girls have the pleasure of enjoying . This is far more visceral than pictures of statuary, or even real (cold) statues)-which would be less fun in bed, at least by my standards..

    Certainly not to deter you from the wisdom and fun of this site, I’m getting at is the notion that men are
    far more creatures of the eye; women presumably persue other aspects of somones character.. A primary aspect of that is women, unlke men are rarely satisfied with the anonymous “role in the hay””.

  31. I think the idea that anyone’s sexual gazing is fully ‘authentic’ and not influenced by visual culture is problematic. I merely meant to say that women’s aesthetic preferences are probably influenced by homoerotic imagery and gay culture. I know that as a young pubescent girl I actively sought out queer art and literature because it was somewhere I could easily find accounts of desire that resembled my own. I mean, I hang around this blog primarily for the titillation.

    E.g. given the choice between a fat fuzzy “bear” like Andrew Sullivan, and a muscular youth with a great high rideing ass, which would you take? and why? Who’s cues would you take? Why? if all you have are cues.

    I would pick the muscular youth in a heartbeat. A boy with a great ass gets an instant visceral reaction from me, and it feels just about as natural and instinctive to me as a fear of scorpions or a desire for strawberries. But who can say it’s not partly to do with all the dusty books full of greek statuary that I perused as a twelve-year-old? I’ve read hundreds of gay men rhapsodizing about the beauty of bears, and they leave me cold. Perhaps that’s innate, perhaps that’s because early on I internalised the classical ‘beautiful boy’ as an ideal?

  32. Melony: you may have given yourself away: in saying that ‘when it comes to our ‘leering’ we talke our cues from gays…” you insinuate rather directly that the object of female regard is not authentic but is copied from gay males. The fact is that if female visual interest was nested in individul libido’s, therwe would be no need for any cues (that suggests an addapted “implulse”; the notion of a a ” borrowed libido” is hard to substantiate.
    Nonethless you point up a highly interesting and perplexing question: Given that women do have an occular apprehension of individual men, what part of that inspires sexual inspiration” you suggest that it is borrowed from gay males , but it seems as if that is, by itself a probematic approach to selectivity.
    E.g. given the choice between a fat fuzzy “bear” like Andrew Sullivan, and a muscular youth with a great high rideing ass, which would you take? and why? Who’s cues would you take? Why? if all you have are cues.

  33. There still remains a question as to whether females would have any actual libidinal attraction to naked male flesh, or if they just , as in other areas try to act as much like males-leering in this case- as possible. I have my doubts. These pictures have a real attraction for other males primarily.

    You strike me as the kind of man who has very little interest in or understanding of women, so perhaps you aren’t the best person to pose this question.

    It seems to me that Western culture is rapidly awakening to the fact that women have both libidos and eyeballs. Of course, when it comes to our ‘leering’ we do take our cues from the gays, but only because they’re just so good at making men look sexy.

  34. Go for it! That hits a cord given recent displays of masculine “vigor”; which might not be so strange if it wasn’t for the strange colusion of ego and narcisism.

  35. Mark: I don’t know that Americans have less interest in Soccer than Socialism. Currently they think socialism is the same as fascism, if they know the word at all. Soccer, of the other hand, is something that girls play in grade school. I suspect that most believe Becks to be some sort of drag queen.

  36. Possibly, American athletes would pose for money too; but they are soo ugly.

    Nonetheless the singular charm of these sporno stars is that their bodies are developed by the time tried method of truly skilled and rough athletic encounters. The obvious difference in quality of muscle definition is markedly different that that of fellows who just turn fat to form on a machine is so obvious. Bodies developed for function have an allure totally unlike those of the the gym bunnies , who granted are better than nothing but not like the real thing-at least sometimes; at times between the waxing and skin softeners, they look more like femme fatales on hormones.

    I can’t help but believing that beyond the monitary rewards, there exists a true kind of functionally related; aggressive male narcissism: an appreciation of those solid limbs etc. evolved in the heat of the forge; something with a tad better tensile than the “stairmaster.”

    There still remains a question as to whether females would have any actual libidinal attraction to naked male flesh, or if they just , as in other areas try to act as much like males-leering in this case- as possible. I have my doubts. These pictures have a real attraction for other males primarily.

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