Monday, February 27, 2006

Nudity returns

Timothy Sandefur responds to my previous post on male nudity. He seems to admit that at least some male nudes are beautiful, which I appreciate. But he we may have reached an impasse when he says that my contention that men are sublime means that the male nude is "admirable."

Language is tricky, and when I said female nudes are beautiful and male nudes sublime, I intended to use those terms as they are used in art criticism and to capture the distinction between this more restrictive concept of the beautiful and its more colloquial meaning of "things I enjoy looking at." As a society, we apparently don't enjoy looking at male nudes as much as we do female nudes, but is this because male images are challenging or because they are less pleasureable to look at, setting aside cultural baggage? Is something like the Shelley Memorial beautiful because it is feminine? Is this beautiful? If not, why not?

Certainly this is both beautiful and dynamic, but so is this. Defining terms such that only effeminate men can be called beautiful is a neat way to win the argument, but it's no proof that the female body is aesthetically superior to the male body in an objective way.

(Incidentally, I never fail to be puzzled by men who continually deride their own bodies. Women may hate their bodies in the specific, but seldom do you hear them claiming that female bodies in general are lumpen, gross, or weak. Men, on the other hand (because they can't seem to assert their heterosexuality fast enough?) claim that the form they possess is innately inferior, hideous, and grotesque. This is acutely noticeable when American men discuss circumcision; not only are the majority of American males in favor, they are always quick to point out that the natural state of their genitalia is disgusting and requires immediate surgical correction.)

Apparently our cultural enjoys looking at female nudes much more than it enjoys looking at male nudes, and Sarah gets to the heart of the matter by noting that this stems largely from attitudes about sexuality, not because the male form is less attractive.

Relatedly, even artistic nudity is blocked by some filtering software. There is, of course, a protest movement.
blog comments powered by Disqus