I often enjoy, and am often really frustrated by, Mistress Matisse’s column in the Seattle Stranger. This one, however, is bang-on and deals with an issue that people don’t talk about enough. (Well, we do around here, but that’s kind of our thing.)
She’s absolutely right that there’s a reading of male sexual presentation that we often overlook; we tend to think of it as homoerotic because of the assumed male gaze, but it’s also often presented as ridiculous or comical. Ha-ha, a guy thinks he can be sexually attractive! Talk about crazy, amirite?
Let’s look at two very different male stripping scenes for a moment.
First there’s this one from American Pie, a movie I remain fond of, despite its later becoming a dismal franchise. It has a nice implicit female gaze going on in the form of Nadia, but there’s no question that it’s essentially a joke. Indeed, the very existence of Nadia’s female gaze is presented as a that-never-happens joke: It’s so weird that she’d want to see Jason Biggs dancing naked! What a crazy turn of events!
This one from The Full Monty, however, is unequivocally positive. The movie is a comedy, but this scene isn’t the funny part, it’s the life-affirming happy ending. These men, all ages and types, are dead sexy, and everyone thinks so! Let’s all cheer for them!
(Really, all of The Full Monty is an interesting examination of roles of masculinity, as it’s a tale of economically displaced men who become strippers because there’s no jobs going. It reminds me of Sam’s insightful comment from a while back about men who can’t imagine a scenario where they’re actually wanted, and thus focus too much on being needed. The Full Monty is about a group of men who’ve been told by their society that they are not needed, and who instead discover that they’re still wanted. But that’s getting sidetracked.)
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: ladies, tell the men in your life that they’re sexy. Mainstream culture sure as hell isn’t going to do it.