May 6, 2008

Where are all the sexy men?

Posted in gender, mass media, music, objectification, representation, sexual politics, Sexuality Blogs and Resources, sexy at 1:30 pm by LB

OK, so I’ve been writing a bit about sexual representations recently. It’s not on purpose, just what I’ve read about recently. I’ll try to get to a new topic soon :-). Yesterday I stumbled on 2 articles that speak to the post I’ve written recently about the disparities in publicly eroticizing men’s and women’s bodies.

The first one speaks to the idea that concepts of ‘sexy’ by default refers to women’s (not men’s) bodies. has an article titled “Hollywood’s Sexiest Celebrities.” Guess what? They’re all women.

My first thoughts were: Is it because when we’re making top lists of sexy people, sexy “people” implicitly and really means “women”? Or is it because doesn’t think any men are sexier than these 15 women? But no, these were taken from an E-poll, not a single person’s choice–and the top male, Matthew McConaughey weighed in at only 41st. What does this say about what or who we consider ‘sexy’? Is it that women are “really” sexier than men? Or is it that “sexy” has been defined in terms of women? I at least think part of it must be that we are provided with sexualized images of women quite frequently, where actual images of celebrity men all sexy, posed, and scantily clad is significantly rarer. So why would we even think of men when asked about who’s “sexy” when their bodies are less than accessible (in magazines or films) and hardly on the radar?

And this is beside the point of the post, but I find it irritating that Forbes thinks it’s SOOOO progressive because the average age is 36 (thanks to 40 year olds Pamela Anderson, Halle Berry, Selma Hayek, and 42 year-old Elizabeth Hurley); further, it claims:

Young and pin-thin celebs may line the glossies at the checkout counter, but when it comes to Tinsel Town’s sexiest, neither attribute seems necessary, if even desirable […] most of the women on E-Poll’s list have something else in common: curves.

Well, look at the list, and you’ll find that “curves” does not equal “fat.” It equals having shapely breasts, butts, and hips, while still being thin. While none of the choices would necessarily be called “skinny,” they’d pretty much all be called “thin,” or “thinner than average.” Considering the extent to which professional photoshoppers go to make skinny celebs less bony/more curvy-feminine, and to make actually “curvy” women (read: “average” to “fat”) look thinner (while still maintaining some shape), this is hardly revolutionary. And it is nice that they have a handful of over 40 year-olds (not to mention 62 year-old Raquel Welch increasing the age average); but those women are just 40, and the choices are hardly surprising–they are women that have been objectified for years.

The other irritating thing is how what Playboy thinks is mentioned in the article several times.

Anderson’s curves landed her on the pages of Playboy and the beaches of Baywatch...Playboy got it right when it named Alba among its “25 Sexiest Celebrities” last year…Playboy named the Fantastic Voyage star, who still appears on the big screen, the “Most Desired Woman” of the 1970s.

It really really irritates me that Playboy (who’s in it or what they opine) is generally the stamp of validation of who/what’s sexy, and it plays that role in this article.

The second one speaks more to how the public naked male body tends to be either comical or naked though non-sexual (with exceptions of course, but at least in mainstream film, that’s how it tends to be represented).

Idolator made this comment about Gigwise’s

list of 50 album covers they consider the “dirtiest and sexiest” ever. Unsurprisingly, naked women outnumber naked men by a rather large margin. But with rare exception, the appearance of a naked man is used as comedy. What, no shirtless Jim Morrison?

Indeed. Although I would still classify a few of the men-covers as ‘sexy.’ And come on, less than 10 sexy male covers out of 50?? Again, this goes back to the question: if women are produced as being the ‘sexual’ sex, then is the significantly fewer man-covers than woman-covers because the correlation of ‘sexy’ to ‘woman’ blinds those making these lists to images of sexy men? Or does woman as the epitome of ‘sexy’ result in fewer sexualized images of men on covers? My guess is both.

h/t Ms. Naughty (blog NSFW)



  1. Torri said,

    I think this is a contributing reason to why there are so many ‘yaoi fangirls’ and why they are usually looked on disapprovingly by people outside the culture.
    Yaoi and Visual K are one of those areas where you can regularly find the male body sexualised, even then you’re mostly going to be seeing a ‘cut’ physic so people with different tastes are still left disappointed most of the time.
    Lately I’ve been thinking back to the anime and Visual K artists that I have found extremely attractive, the response I get from a ‘normal’ person is that the male is gay or ‘looks like a girl’ it all seems to point to the idea that male=/=sexy only female=sexy that seems so prevalent in todays culture.

  2. […] this is mostly based on how the male body is not constructed as sexual for heterosexual women. See previous posts on the lack of eroticization of the male […]

  3. Tahra said,

    Reading this article really makes me take another outlook to the “sexy” advertisements and magazine covers i see on a day to day basis. I will now pay attention to the grocery line of magazines with nothing but sexy pictures of women in whatever way they are depicted. I’ve seen even the most beautiful things about women turned into something sexual. For example, you see the healthfood magazines, or the physically fit magazines of sexy women that have made their way to physically fit, but you never see the “bigger” women that are working their way to “skinny” and writing stories of their weight loss on the front cover. Or, I’ve seen tons of pregnant magazine covers with pictures of beautiful, sexy, women and even though pregnancy can happen to any women, it’s depicted in magazines by sexy-young-“skinnier” mother’s to be. It is seen that not many magazines have pictures of clothed, not “built and athletic men” but instead they are pictures of the “physically fit and sexy” Brad pitt, or matthew mcconaughey. Is that what women are marrying, is that what all women desire? Is physically fit sexy men like Brad pitt? or is it possibel that the norm of what is sexy and acceptable are different to each and every woman, and to any woman that feels that a curvy or a man that may have “more to love” is acceptable and even sexy to them.

  4. Bernie said,

    How I appreciate you thoughts………….I want to read more regarding this topic.

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