Trigger warning for mentions of rape, and NSFW warning for pictures of shirtless people.
Occasionally, I ask people to explain things. My latest project has been asking people to explain why women can’t take their shirts off in public. Barring circular answers (“it’s obscene!” “it’s just not appropriate”) and irrelevancies (“hubba hubba”), the answers have mostly been in two groups:
1) “Men aren’t attractive the same way women are.”
2) “There are some men who will, you know, take that as an invitation…”
To both of which I say: bullSHIT.
I am pansexual, which basically means I have attraction superpowers. I like everyone! (And/or cooking implements.) As a pansexual, I will be pleased to inform you that she:
Amanda Fucking Palmer, naked, with words written on her.
Zach Galiafwhatever, sporting a somewhat distressing beard and only half a shirt.
Are both people I feel a quite intense physical attraction to upon looking at their shirtless pictures. And here’s the thing: I am not any less attracted to the man than I am to the woman! They are both attractive! I would like to bang both of them! There is no qualitative difference between my attraction to them, unless you count my assiduous avoidance of The Hangover so I will continue to want to bang Mr. Galiafwhatever. Our culture seems to have this bizarre idea that people would want to have sex with Ms. Fucking Palmer because tits, and people would want to have sex with Mr. Galiafwhatever because he’s funny. Nope. I want to bang them both because they’re fucksexy.
What’s more, nearly all straight women experience the same pleasurable groinal feelings as I do when they look at men. Perhaps not Mr. Galiafwhatever, though. Perhaps they prefer:
William Beckett, skinny prettyboy!
Vin Diesel, the world’s most well-muscled D&D player!
Daniel Dae Kim, who was in Lost or something oh who cares HE IS THE SEXIEST.
Or something else! The world of what turns women on is very diverse and very inadequately represented by Google Image Search, insofar as GIS is under the impression that “hot guy” means “hairless muscular white dude,” someone Photoshopped “calling Slimfast and 24-hour-fitness, Help!!!” on David Krumholtz’s perfectly attractive if somewhat chubby body, and neither Masi Oka nor Peter Dinklage nor Bill Nighy have apparently taken their shirts off in public.
Alan Rickman has, but he is quite shy and hiding behind a Grecian statue.
My point being! Straight and bi women like men’s bodies! The only reason that (1) doesn’t apply to men is that we believe that women are incapable of attraction and men are incapable of being attractive, which I hope I have adequately disproved with my collection of shirtless men of assorted body types.
(2) is horrifically sexist, of course, because as shocking as it seems the vast majority of men are capable of being turned on and enjoying it, without responding with “I must rape you you sexy person!” Most rapists are motivated by power and revenge, not sexual arousal, and deliberately select victims who are vulnerable and incapable of fighting back and defending themselves. There are plenty of shirtless people who can defend themselves! But even if you grant this “male sexuality is inherently sexist” notion, which is misandric on the face of it, what about gay dudes? You’d think they’d be running about the place raping every man who takes his shirt off when playing basketball.
Hrm. Maybe that’s why homophobes are scared of gay dudes.
Basically, it’s hot out, and I want to be able to take my shirt off when I’m all sweaty even though I have boobs, and also post lots of pictures of shirtless men. This is clearly the most important frontier of gender activism.