Man, He’s Got a Nice Body

It’s time to realize, Beckley Mason writes, that men just like looking at other men doing incredible things with their bodies.

This piece is part of a special series on the End of Gender. This series includes bloggers from Role/RebootGood Men ProjectThe Huffington PostSalonHyperVocalMs. MagazineYourTangoPsychology TodayPrincess Free ZoneThe Next Great Generation, and Man-Making.

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ESPN The Magazine’s “Body Issue” is out. I don’t mind telling you I got a jolt of excitement when I read a tweet announcing as much.

While the American sports entertainment stream of consciousness purls off into eddies focused variously on cultural mores, race, competition, and mindless entertainment, rarely do we acknowledge what I find to be a deep and abiding fascination with the beauty of he human form in it’s ultimate functional perfection.

The dunk moment can be a ferocious declaration of savage domination like few others in any sport. But it’s gorgeous because of the degree of coordination, grace and raw power that is perhaps better embodied by Michael Jordan’s poetic layups rather than Blake Griffin’s decapitating dunks.

ESPN bills this issue as “bodies we want,” an unmistakable double meaning reflecting the reader’s supposed desire to be and be with the nude paragons of athletic success. Perhaps that’s the motivation, but I imagine that these images are so alluring for the same reason Michelangelo’s David still draws millions each year. We are programmed to appreciate each other not only as sex objects but also as objects of geometric beauty.

That we humans amaze ourselves in a manner that does not deny sexuality but rises above desire is nothing new, but is one that is discordant with our fan culture.

That’s why I got a little disappointed when Vera Zvonareva appeared posing more as a Bond girl than formidable two time major champion. There’s a fine line walked by most individual women’s sports, one that the WNBA has seemingly dropped entirely: that the female athletes can or should be sexy, which is different than just being cool. The spread in this year’s feature embodies this conflict.

For a male-dominated culture of sports appreciation that uses “pause” and “no homo” to qualify anything remotely suggesting a homoerotic thought, it’s probably time to come to grips with that fact that men like looking at really fit men doing really incredible things with their bodies. It’s not all about the battle, the fight, or the war. The enjoyment that comes from physical beauty is integral.

That we humans amaze ourselves in a manner that does not deny sexuality but rises above desire is nothing new, but is one that is discordant with our fan culture.

Now take a look at Blake Griffin’s quads.

This post originally appeared at HoopSpeak. Follow Beckley on Twitter @BeckleyMason.

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About Beckley Mason

Beckley Mason is the founder and editor of HoopSpeak. You can follow him on Twitter @BeckleyMason.

Comments

  1. They guy in the picture above seriously needs to put on some clothes. I would much rather watch him covered head to toe with a helmet on catching a pass over the middle for a 85 yard touchdown. He’s pretty disgusting looking naked.

    It’s the beauty, grace, and power of what’s done in sports, not the male body. I am more impressed with Nate Robinson’s or Spud Webb’s dunks than someone a foot taller and more imposing looking.

    • The beauty, grace and power all come from the body, Eric. Anyway, I think the photo is amazing for a number of reasons-what he has done with his body, the lighting, and I’m very impressed with the reactions it’s getting. Not surprised with the reactions though.

      • Yes but athletes are never naked when participating in their sport.

      • Yes but athletes are never naked when participating in their sport. I love watching and playing sports but don’t want to see those same guys naked.

    • Ummm…that man is hot and I’d prefer it if everything he did were in the nude. Yes, I am objectifying. No, I don’t care.

    • El Jefe do Todos Los Chingones says:

      Sounds like Eric M has some issues. Pretty disgusting looking? You’re crazy.

      • LOL
        I love your name Jefe! I almost choked on my breakfast there! That’s great!

      • If naked men is your thing, more power to you. But, I’m heterosexual and make no apologies for not wanting to see naked men.

        • I wonder how society would shift if men would stop clinging so closely to their heterosexuality…

          • For me, it’s not a matter of “clinging.”

            “I was born this way.”

            • Good one Eric! :)

            • I am hetero for the most part and also enjoy lovely photos of women. I don’t think it’s some biological truth that women are more “flexible” in their sexuality. I think it’s cultural and shows up in comments like Eric’s. The human body can be beautiful, male or female, but rarely ever see women saying “ew” about nude females as I do men about male nudes. I think it’s something created by a generally homophobic and misogynist society. I think it’s fine to say you don’t get turned on by a male nude but can you appreciate, objectively, the beauty of a man’s achievement in athleticism.

              Or I guess you’ve answered that. Only with clothes on, right? Cause otherwise it’s gay?

  2. I like to see skilled athletes DOING something, yes. And I include dancers like Gene Kelly in that description.

    When it comes to women, I don’t care if they’re lying on a couch completely motionless. A body that’s sexually attractive is different from one that’s fascinating to watch in motion.

  3. I think I’m the only one on Earth who thinks these pics are creepy. I tried to look at some of them and just couldn’t finish. There’s something about NOT seeing everything that turns me on. And the ladies just looked silly. Apolo Ohno is a beautiful man but I would have enjoyed his pic much more with shorts on. I think all of them could have been shot with at least something on and still look athletic, artistic and intriguing. Art is subjective for sure. And sex sells magazines.

  4. His buttocks and thighs look like the buttocks and thighs of a dude I boinked. Very nice.

    • Exactly. There’s something to be said for what buttocks and thighs like those can do when it comes to boinking. ;)

  5. It’s weird that the reactions are either “he’s hot” or “that’s gross.” I think, objectively and aestethically, he looks good. I don’t feel any particular lust, just deep, seething, envious resentment that I will never have that muscle definition. Bastard probably eats whatever the hell he wants, too, the son of a bitch.

    I’m not sure why love and revulsion are the only two choices. I’m not attracted to him, he doesn’t do it for me, but I don’t find him disgusting, either. Yeah, there’s a naked guy with not much body fat. And? I’d be a little grossed out if he were sitting bare-assed on my couch, but that’s coprophobia not homophobia.

    • “I’m not sure why love and revulsion are the only two choices.”

      It’s odd, isn’t it? It’s as if some people are incapable of looking at a nude form in a nonsexual way.

  6. The Bad Man says:

    “What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!”

    -William Shakespeare

  7. Christopher says:

    I’m not a psychologist, but I do know about “reaction formation” and Eric M doth protest too much, methinks. I’m just sayin’ . . . And Blake Griffin is a basketball player. You’re not going to see him making any touchdowns, clothed or unclothed. I, for one, think he looks great naked.

    • It’s called being a heterosexual man. I don’t necessarily expect you to understand.

      • Nope. I know lots of hetero dudes who would see the photo and say-awesome physique, or….great lighting…or wow I wish I had that discipline….or I hope my gf doesn’t see this :) or other things besides “ew.”

        The photo doesn’t turn me on sexually, but it does impress and inspire me. Why can’t it do the same for you Eric? Aesthetically? Artistically? Or is it just plain, “Naked dude=gross.”

        That seems limited to me.

  8. Peter Combs says:

    When I saw this picture and realized he was naked, the first thing that came to mind was how disciplined he must be, and that I will most likely never achieve that level of fitness. I didn’t personally find anything offensive with this picture. At the gym, I see guys naked all the time. And while I tend to be more private than most of them, I don’t find myself particularly uncomfortable in those situations. Albeit, there was this one instance in the locker room when I encountered a guy using a blow dryer on his genitals for quite a long time. With that, I was uncomfortable. This picture? Not so much.

    • Completely agree. When I first saw the pic I was straight out impressed. As someone who does a lot of sport I know how much work and commitment it takes to get there.
      Second reaction was, why don’t women get to see hot men naked like this more often? Men get to see women naked all the time. It really is one of life’s unfairer things.
      I definitely think Eric M had an extreme reaction. I can admire a beautiful woman without being gay. Beauty is beauty and even if you don’t find the above image beautiful it is undeniably impressive. Perhaps Eric is worried if we women see too many hot, fit men we’ll actually start expecting more of our men just as men expect women to stay in shape and feel free to comment and even write off women when she starts to age or her boobs start sagging…

  9. CajunMick says:

    Not porn. Excellent lighting, good composition. Figure study.
    Striking photograph. Anything else? Next!

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