The Penis: An Observation Of Seeing (NSFW)

Look What's Making Its Paris Debut!

Look What’s Making Its Paris Debut!

For reasons that should be obvious, male models wearing clothes that expose their penises is big news.  I am writing about this not because I consider myself a fashion critic.  Nor am I really all that interested in the public display of private parts.  I find this fascinating because for years, it has been quite all right for women to wear fashions that are either sheer enough to expose their breasts . . .

Kendall Jenner Modeling More Than Clothes

Kendall Jenner Modeling More Than Clothes

. . . or to do away with covering them altogether in the name of fashion.

Jennifer Nicholson Deciding The Dress Just Wasn't Good Enough For Her Torso

Jennifer Nicholson Deciding The Dress Just Wasn’t Good Enough For Her Torso

Rarely if ever, however, do fashion designers create clothing that is as exposing for men.  Until now.  And, of course, social media and the internet is all abuzz.  While I’m not sure some line has been crossed – this is one designer with an odd clothing line – I do think it is important that we come face to face with the brazen sexism of fashion, of fashion design, and the titillating nature of far too much of what passes for high culture.

In ancient times, male nudity wasn’t frowned upon nearly as much as it is now.  Indeed, even in many contemporary societies, male confraternity often includes sharing time together, either in steam baths or hot tubs, sans clothing.  It seems we Americans, however, have some kind of hang-up about the exposure of the male member, as if not seeing it, we can pretend it doesn’t exist.  At the same time, fashion designers go to great pains to make sure women’s breasts – and sometimes more – see the light of day, and the male gaze.  In principle there is nothing wrong with creating clothing that is revealing, even extremely revealing.  My concern for the moment, however, is the disparity.  Creating fashions that allow the penis exposure is long overdue.  Yet, because we live in a society where gender and sexuality norms are created by and for men, seeing a penis is taboo.  As if somehow men seeing one will show them something they never knew before?  More likely, its an expression of homophobia, along with an attraction/repulsion thing.  After all, pornography shows not only the penis, but far more, and men have been watching pornography since humans figured out how to create images.

Yet, we live in a society that is so hung up on our sexuality, yet perversely hypocritical about it (consider how much bandwidth on the internet is dedicated to pornography as opposed, say, to politics, religion, or philosophy), that a contemporary fashion designer offering the penis for a larger social audience confuses, angers, frustrates, and embarrasses us.  Of all the things it exposes, I believe it shows us that, at the end of all the discussions about design trends and fabrics, it’s all about creating clothing that makes women sexually desirable for men.  Creating clothing that exposes the penis violates so many rules, most assuredly that last most of all, the welter of emotions it creates comes out as anger, a rage that someone would defy every rule not just of fashion but of what is and is not socially acceptable.  For that reason, I applaud the exposure of the penis to the larger social gaze.  It’s long past time we, especially we Americans, took a look not only at the public display of the penis, but our own ridiculous hang-ups about allowing it to be exposed.  This is a victory of sorts not just for women, who after all have had their bodies exposed by fashion designers for decades; it is also a victory for men, who no longer need feel self-conscious about whether or not they are properly covered and attired.

We men need to become comfortable with our bodies, not in a sexual way (although we need that, too), but just as they are our bodies.  Hiding them in the name of propriety is just another way of saying, “Please don’t look at me because I might not measure up to others’ expectations of maleness”.  Even if this doesn’t become a trend, we should take this moment and glance at the exposed penises and remember it’s just a part of the body.  It neither defines us nor ranks us as inferior or superior.  Only our attitudes toward it do that.  It’s just a penis.  Get over it, and take a look.

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About gksafford

I'm a middle-aged theologically educated clergy spouse, living in the Midwest. My children are the most important thing in my life. Right behind them and my wife is music. I'm most interested in teaching people to listen to contemporary music with ears of faith. Everything else you read on here is straw.
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