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The Male Body: A New Look at Men in Public…

The Male Body: A New Look at Men in Public and in Private

by Susan Bordo

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I liked it. It seems that the only thing Americans fear more than a sexually aggressive woman is a naked penis ( especially an erect one ).

I did not know Marlon Brando, the first self-consciously sexual, male sex symbol, wet his jeans and then let them dry while he was wearing them so they would be extra tight. I learned lots of fun facts like that. ( )
  ElectricKoolAid | Jan 2, 2013 |
Male bodies in popular culture, especially visual culture. It's commendable that Bordo keeps her primary relation to the male body (love both familial and sexual) in the foreground, but her awed rhapsodizing on the nature of the embodied penis gets really tiring, a little embarrassing, and frustratingly heteronormative. The writing is distinctly aimed at the bestseller crowd, which makes a usually academic topic (gender and embodiment) frankly readable, though she sacrifices nuance to achieve it. The non linear relation between male bodies and masculine identities floats away into an overarching historical narrative where men have become more sexualized while, paradoxically, resisting that vulnerable flavor of objectification visited upon women.

I'm probably being a bit harsh, but my final feeling after finishing it, my sense of "the takeaway" is that over here exist men who have men's bodies and, thus, masculine identities, and over there exist women who can relate to all that by loving it, fucking it, or fruitlessly coveting or aping it, but women must of course remain estranged and exotic from its source: dicks.

P.S. The spine of the book is a ruler. That pretty much sums up the "saucy" garbage that coats the interesting stuff. ( )
  knownever | Mar 21, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374527326, Paperback)

Shock waves riveted the Mattel, Inc., boardroom in 1961 when female executives suggested that Barbie's boy-toy, Ken--in keeping with Barbie's own physiognomy--ought to be a little more anatomically correct. No one was suggesting 1.25-inch-to-1-inch-scale plastic genitalia, mind you, just a modest groin bulge. But male execs at the toy company were scandalized; the suggested modifications did not make Ken more "authentic" in their eyes--they made him pornographic.

My, how things have changed. In The Male Body, Susan Bordo (who snagged a Pulitzer nomination for 1993's Unbearable Weight) offers a frank, sprightly, and, yes, educational look at the male nude as an index to attitudes about sexuality in the broth of media and pop culture in which, like it or not, we all stew. While the Greeks were unafraid to celebrate masculine beauty, men have been strangely sexless throughout most of Western history--until Hollywood rediscovered the male body when Marlon Brando first shed his T-shirt in A Streetcar Named Desire. It's only been in the '90s, however, that the male image has gone so far as to reclaim its penis. From de facto censorship to near idolatry, has ever an organ made such a journey in one brief decade? But it's not the penis alone that makes a man a man; perhaps, Bordo concludes, it's time for us to rethink our metaphors of manhood. --Patrizia DiLucchio

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:34 -0400)

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