The Male Gaze

A number of years ago, the mas band of Ian McKensie featured a small section of women who wore pasties and thongs in the band. This caused a huge uproar about ‘naked mas.’ Also at that time, one of the local newspapers ran an image of a woman standing a few feet from a policeman wearing pasties and hot pants. The article accompanying the picture discussed the fact that the woman was not breaking any laws dressed as she was. There has been a running joke that prostitutes are having a hard time plying their trade when so many women look that way these days.

Carnival manages to play with the fine line of the sexual and the explicit, yet it is always done with a sense of fun. If lines are indeed crossed, these lines are not made to harm, at least not in the context of playing mas. Sexual harassment, unwanted attention, these things may occur outside the confines of the fantasy of ‘being’ in costume in the band. It can be argued.

In Art on the other hand, the line between nudity and the sensual has not been explored to any level of debate about the subject in Trinidad and Tobago. Somehow everyone who attempts to make sexual imagery has been somehow crippled by it. Apart from those who paint the parlor nude and that is still predominantly a female form.

The male Beauty Fiji islands postcard 1890, Head Tribe

I have always wondered about that double standard, and I polled a few men about the subject. There was much debate about the female gaze looking at the male as nude. The conversation was quite enlightening, as it went beyond the obvious statement that you hear all the time, the fact that men do not want to look at other men.

Here is what I discovered, men looking upon men make a man aware of himself and his shortcomings or difference. There is an inability to look away. A desire to move past all of that nakedness that stares you down. There is a feeling of anxiety to look upon another man, particularly if that man is beautiful in the classical Greek sense.

The thought of homosexuality draws too close.
However there is also the opportunity to desire to look the way the male figure is portrayed. It can be something to attain in oneself. Looking upon complete nakedness is another matter. If the penis is neutral, the form is not a challenge, but an aroused man brings up a different set of thoughts. A sizing up occurs. One that is either dismissed or ridiculed, after all, it is a vulnerable moment and the man feels exposed by the image.

This was all very interesting. Men have been exposing women for centuries and women have allowed it. Yet male nudity is still so rare, unless you are a homosexual man, and even so, a lot of that nudity is something that you have to surf for. This begs another question, what is it about straight women and gay porn?
I conclude that the male form is extremely sexy, and so unusual that women go for gay porn because it is a lot of man to look at. I suppose that is also why men love lesbian porn. Somehow nakedness and sex never gets old. It attracts us because it is still private despite all of the opportunities that one can take to see it.

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