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Wednesday 14 April 2010

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The Gay Blade

28th August 2009

Bimbos and Bodies

Posted by: Michael Stevens

A friend gave me some back issues of gay mags the other day. DNA, Attitude, Gay News etc.

magazine.jpgAll were choc-full of images of beautiful men. Men who obviously spend hours every day in the gym and live on wheatgrass juice, tuna and rice  - I know, I know, they’re models, but even so, they’re held up to us as the image of what a gay man is supposed to be. These images are powerful, and their common-place use to depict gay men tells us something about our world, and I’m not sure I like it. And really, let’s face it, these guys are our equivalent of busty blonde bimbos for straight guys. Hasn’t Gay Liberation been a great thing? Baby, we’ve come such a long way…

So many muscles and such sharp definition that the split in their abs starts to look like a vagina, a friend noted. Ridiculously slim waists. And, with one exception, no body hair. So even though they’re supposedly what gay men aspire to be like, if we’re not already there, they actually look more like perpetual teenagers, stuck in early pubescence forever. They don’t look all that masculine to me. I’m not immune to the charms of youth and beauty, but this sort of airbrushed perfection (and let’s face it: these shots will have been enhanced) leaves me cold.

And what is wrong with body hair? On the one hand we have people prattling on about “nature” and “being Green” and then they rip their hair off with wax and look totally unnatural. Did you know you can buy “green” hair removal products? Why? Yes, I am hirsute. So I do have a personal axe to grind on this one. I like my body hair. And I like hairy men, I think they can be very sexy. And yes, so can men with very little body hair and all the gradations in between. I just don’t get this desire to pretend that men don’t have chest hair, hair around our cocks and balls, hair on our stomachs ( I just love following a treasure trail down ) facial hair, even… hair on our shoulders and backs! I just can’t measure a guy’s hotness by his hairiness, or lack of it, which is the image the magazines keep pushing.

As I look at the ads for the next dance-party, or the photos used on most gay websites, it gets harder and harder to find a piece of body hair, or a body that doesn’t make Michaelangelo’s David look flabby. Look back at some older porn or erotica and well over half the guys that were thought sexy in the 50s, 60s and 70s just wouldn’t make it today. Instead we’ve somehow ended up with this hyper-muscular baby-bottom smooth twenty-something as our icon, and I’m not quite sure how it happened.

I’m old enough (here we go again…”The good old days”) to remember when the gay media contained a level of self-critical reflection and political awareness that didn’t simply centre on our right to imitate straights by getting married and having kids. I know, I know, consumption is everywhere and we’ve been swallowed up by it. These gay mags tell us about how to spend money to fit into certain social groups. And they all assume we have a disposable income, live in the city, are under 30 (or idealise youth) and are happy uncritically taking part in a political system that is, actually when you peel back the veils, not exactly on our side. We’ve had to fight hard and long for the rights we’ve gained, they weren’t simply a gift by a benign system, and now we’ve been swallowed up by it. Yeah, I’m on a kind of a doom and gloom kick.

These images might be pretty, they might be hot, they might handsome, but what they also do is exclude a lot of us. Look around a gay bar or club, and the number who fit that images is way smaller than those who do. But the number of people trying to fit it and not making it is often quite high. And it just looks a little sad and a little wrong when some guy in his mid 50s is trying to look like a 29 year-old and not pulling it off (err, the look I mean, you dirty-minded filth).

What those of us who don’t fit into these dominant advertising-driven models of gay bimbos get told is we’re not quite up there, not as good, not worth as much. “Here is an image of what a gay man is supposed to be if he wants to be successful and loved” these ads say. “Ooops, you don’t fit, so you’re not going to succeed”, is the hidden message here.

So remind me now, who else has to put up with relentless Body-Fascisim, pressure to look ”right”  and bimbos in ads showing them up all the time? Oh yeah, straight women. That’s what we fought for, isn’t it, to be just like them.

Tags: General

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Craig Young // Aug 30, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    I wish we weren’t as doctrinaire about body image compared to lesbians…

  • 2 Ben // Aug 31, 2009 at 12:31 am

    Haha wow you are fully right…
    I feel a bit better though knowing some issues you have mentioned aren’t such a huge deal to everyone…
    But then i’m probably just overly self conscious..
    But thank you for saying what you have said anyway!

  • 3 StraightEdge // Aug 31, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Good blog Michael.

    I feel sad for those that are so easily influenced by the images and especially by DNA (reality check please). It would be fun to see what other marketing tool they can come up with to grab our attention if said images are banned. Personally, those images are merely something that will grab my attention for the few seconds….ok maybe… but never once i felt the desire to look the same. Would i mind looking like one? Most definately not… only if i don’t have to go on a diet of tuna and rice.

    When you mentioned the failed attempts of older gents trying hard to hold on to their youth, reminded me of what Arnold said: “I think my biggest problem is being young and beautiful. It’s my biggest problem because I’ve never been young and beautiful.Oh, I’ve been beautiful, I’ve been young, but never the twains have met.

    Keep em coming,
    StraightEdge

  • 4 TONY // Aug 31, 2009 at 11:11 am

    A good read this one ,personally i think the gay scene ,largely is quite destructive and horrible . It is obsessed with youth and looking good ,we should be more inclusive to our older fellow gays ,lets face it ,one thing that is certain in life is we all age.

  • 5 Kevin Booth // Sep 1, 2009 at 1:58 am

    A really good article Michael and right on the money…

    But what has changed? Gay men have always been complete fashion victims, sucked in by the promise of an eternal Peter Pan adolescence. The fashion industry is founded on the concept of continual change: what’s in this year must be out next year so that you’ll throw away last year’s rags and buy some completely new ones. And gay men are major players in control of the fashion industry.

    Hair is the same: hair in, hair out, shake it all about! I don’t know if it’s hit NZ yet, but this summer on Mar Bella (gay) beach in Barcelona, you would have been hard-pressed to find a single clean-shaven face in the entire sun-browned carpet of buff bodies. Every single fag on the sand without exception is now sporting the regulation 5-day growth (having purchased the latest top-brand beard trimmer for the purpose). Bears watch out! They’re after your patch!

    In fact, it reminds me of the 70s and 80s when being gay meant you wore plaid shirts and sported a Tom Selleck moustache…

    I quite like a bit of hair myself, though I tend to go more for clean-shaven guys. So now I have to wait for a year or two until the fashion magnates tell us all to throw away our beard trimmers…

  • 6 Darian Zam // Sep 2, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    I’ve read your stuff before, and I’ve seen you get heaps of flack, but I have to say that no matter what you’re a straight shooter and I like your style!

  • 7 John Christodoulides // Sep 3, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Michael I wholeheartedly agree.

    What is beauty? It is nothing but the perception of the one who beholds it.

    Huge kudos to you.

    As a young “twenty something” (well, I’m actually 24 so well on the way to antiques roadshow, so I’m told!) it is reassuring to know that, as the hands of time move onwards, I might just still be worth something as a person after the age of 25.

    I completely agree that the gay “scene” is self-destructive in the sense that it is so youth-centric and clings rigidly to perceived ideals of beauty. I for one like nothing less than a man-orexic peroxide-blonded twink.

    Kudos Michael…

    John x

  • 8 Kawaii // Sep 5, 2009 at 2:51 am

    Unfortunately this is the environment that has been created; focusing on the superficial aspects of an individual that are limited, if you’re lucky, to maybe a 10 year stretch - then thrown out with the rest of the garbage after the looks start to die with age. It reminds me of the book by Jonathan Sacks regarding the ‘throw away culture’ - we wonder why relationships don’t last and bitterness sets in.

    Liberation never happened; the gay community moved from being repressed by the straight majority to now being the slave to consumerism, shallow, empty, nihilistic existence where looks are all that matters. A movement from one form of oppression to another - who is to blame? those who allow empty headed halfwitts (bimbo’s) to control gay media outlets to the point that the only thing represented is a reflection of the types of people who control it - empty individuals.

  • 9 craig // Sep 5, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Can I get an AMEN?

  • 10 stone // Sep 6, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    i totally agree with your ideas… but its nothing new. People have been writing about the negative effects of the image for the pst 20 years. maybe we need to analyse why the image is still such a bankable product (which it must be or advertisers wouldnt use it)

  • 11 Ivan // Nov 14, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    a few things i have to clear up.
    1. English is a foreign language to me (sorry for any misspelling)
    2. a fact: most guys see me as a young, handsome and, in general, very good looking boy
    3. i said boy because im 22 but look younger
    4. i really dont like to be seen or thought of like that (young little squeeze who, since he looks so good, must be a slut)

    now that we have that cleared up, just a few more lines.
    yes, its sad that the gay population of the world is going down that road. who is to blame? no one else but our selves.
    face it, all the gay web sites portrait young guys as sluts or nothing but pieces of meat with a good dong. yes, i watch it but im getting sick of it. wouldnt it be nice for a change to see a normal, average looking guy of any age having average sex and a average sized penis? maybe not, but it certainly would change the position and the view on “non-perfect-non-bimbo-not-well-hung-not-young” gay population.
    we are the ones distributing those images. so why dont we stop? its nice to see a hot guys on the screen, but look at him too long and you will start to feel: jealous? inferior? sad? depressed?
    its not easy dealing with perfection thrown upon you, especially if you are low on self-respect and things are going not so well in your life.
    anyway, im drifting away.
    we are the ones who are responsible, we are the ones and the only ones who can and have to stop this.
    we always accuse straight population to be full of stereotypes about us. but ask yourself this: Who is giving them the material to think like that and for how long will it continue…?

    love the article and keep at it, its great.

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