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America: obsessed with nudity (but only the lady version!)

Date: January 7, 2013 | Posted By: Hailey

The end of a year always brings with it some interesting “Top Ten” lists, ranging from best dressed to most money to least likely couple. But The Huffington Post took it to a whole new level with “The Best Nude Scenes of 2012.”

Image of shirtless men in the movie Magic Mike.

Magic Mike made headlines in 2012 for showing more nearly nude dudes than any movie before!

Drawing on movies released throughout the past year, the Post created its list based on both the amount of skin showing and how “sexy” the movie scenes were.

While Hollywood saw more male nudity in 2012 than ever before, the disparity between men and women appearing on-screen without clothes was still enormous — and the Post’s article exemplified this perfectly.

Of the ten films listed, only three of those were due to male nudity: Magic Mike, The Sessions, and The Vow. (Interestingly, both Magic Mike and The Vow feature Channing Tatum as their token naked man. The Sessions featured John Hawkes.)

The other seven included Take This Waltz, Wanderlust, and On the Road, and promoted solely female nudity.

So, what gives? Why is it that women still make up the overwhelming majority of nude people in movies? This emphasizes the idea that female bodies are objects, viewed by others as a source of pleasure and entertainment. Why can’t men’s bodies serve the same purpose?

Here we find ourselves in an interesting quandary. Often, we are annoyed at how frequently women are sexualized in the media; these days, it’s hard to come by a movie that doesn’t make a point to have their female actresses show some skin. But, in the same respect, many of us find ourselves cheering when a movie, like Magic Mike, has some male nudity for a change, and attempts to equalize the status quo.

But by celebrating a movie like Magic Mike, are we only furthering the cycle of objectification? If women find sexualization of the female body offensive, isn’t it safe to say that men would feel the same way?

Still of Kristen Stewart from the film On the Road.

In On the Road, Kristen Stewart appears topless and participates in a threesome with the two male characters. Talk about steamy!

To achieve equality, then, there are really only two options: lessen female nudity, or increase male nudity. Both are viable options – it really all depends on how you look at it.

Personally, I think America’s made some great strides towards becoming a sexually liberated, sexually progressive country. We realize that sex and bodily pleasures can be beautiful and should be celebrated.

In light of this, I would suggest moviemakers increase male nudity. But – and this is a big but (no pun intended) – there’s a respectful way and a disrespectful way to do this.

The characters movies portray nude ought to be presented as just that – characters. Not nameless, faceless figures with only bodies to offer their viewers.

A character’s nude body should be only one facet of their importance in the film; after all, what’s a character without personality, goals, and mysterious secrets? In doing so, moviemakers would not be objectifying actors and actresses, but presenting them as well-rounded human individuals, sex lives and all.

What do you think? What’s the best way to equalize the nude portrayals of men and women in the media?

Hailey Magee is a Women’s and Gender Studies and Politics double major at Brandeis University. Her foremost interests include media literacy and empowerment of young girls. Hailey hopes to one day pursue a career in the political arena and become an advocate for gender equality.




What Do You Think?

5 Responses to America: obsessed with nudity (but only the lady version!)

  1. Hassan on 01-17-2013

    I have read your blog and that really inspired me you have pointed somethings which are suppoesed to be raised in soceity , I just say one thing about this blog its just truly commendable , and gender equilty must be focused in every area even if it comes to the movies , Wome n must not be the subject of nudity in films ,it has to be reduced .
  2. joe on 03-13-2013

    I agree that there should definately by more equality. Each female nude scene should include full close up of the female vaginal area. It seems to be perfectly okey to show male genetalia for extended periods of time in close up while this could not be said of the female version of nudity. Movies containing male nudity has a lower age restriction than movies with female nudity. When male nudity is shown, it is mostly in a comedic and belitteling fashion while with female nudity it is often to celebrate the beauty of female form. So yes, I agree there should be more equality. A move such as Showgirls, which does not show the female genital area, was rated nc17 however, I could make a long list of movies that shows up close shots of male genitals, with only a 16 age restriction. Female nudity is mostly shown in a respectful way whereas male nudity is shown to make fun of the male sex organ. Personally, I believe one can not fix one wrong with another as this always leads to consequenses. I believe exploitation of the male nude will have far reaching negative consequences And nobody realizes this.
  3. Johannes on 04-01-2013

    There is a fundamental difference between casual nudity, comical nudity, demonstrative nudity, and sexual nudity. I know for some people the differences seem to be difficult to grasp, but it is something I would have expected from a website like this one. Take Wanderlust for example, or Take This Waltz. The nudity displayed in them was not sexual at all, and it was always part of a character. Scenes like these don't objectify anyone; on the contrary, they make the characters more human and relatable. Imho, movies need more scenes like these - way more of them, and of both genders of course. Until even Hassan up there realizes there is nothing shameful about the human body.
  4. Same Song and Dance: Seth Macfarlane and the Oscar Feminism Fail | The Body Pacifist on 04-05-2013

    [...] the women in the audience who have had topless scenes. Now, I’m not denying the truth of this. Female nudity in Hollywood gets a lot of screen time. Not nearly as much screen time as male nudity, despite the outliers like “Magic Mike” or [...]
  5. dr faraz on 06-15-2013

    As a devoted Muslim I would suggest nudity of both kinds either male or female must be discouraged, its harmful for the overall society.