March 2, 1998 · Cavalier Daily

Male Femininity in Mass Advertising

This Viewpoint article discusses the paradoxical tendency of mass media to depict attractive men in a lustful, almost feminine way in order to appeal to a male audience. The writer asserts that such ads evoke a homoerotic response from male viewers, which problematizes heteronormative or homophobic tendencies.


1998-03-02 Cavalier Daily Male Femininity in Mass Advertising.pdf
Shelly Nocon
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
Male Femininity in Mass Advertising
Cavalier Dally Staff Writer
Flipping through an issue of Gentleman’s Quarterly, ads for men's clothing catch the eye. But the picture seemingly wants to sell the body underneath the clothes to its male audience.
In a panel sponsored by the Women’s Center and Hereford College Thursday, professors and other members of the University community discussed this and other homosexual portrayals of male beauty in today’s media.
The "new male image" — one that promotes the dominant sex as lustful, almost feminine objects — is a commercial aim, hoping to make a sale by appealing to the male readers who glance over the pages.
English graduate student Johnnie Wilcox said magazine ads enshroud male models with an element of femininity to appeal to male readers.
"There is a tricky situation with ads. Straight men are forced to have a homoerotic moment when looking at them,” Assoc English Prof Eric Lott said.
Lott said heterosexual males react in different ways to male models in magazine ads.
"They may either act more macho and butch," Lott said “Or they may indulge and acknowledge their homoerotic desires.
"Despite the construct of masculinity in ads, most people still tend to be homophobic,” he said.
Assoc Anthropology Prof George Mentore gave a synopsis of current stereotypes surrounding men.
"What we're beginning to discuss now is a sense of alienation amongst men that women have already been exposed to," Mentore said.
"It's really setting this new agenda for a fit, masculine body as opposed to the masculine body we think of in the past as being dignified, poised, thin, valiant. Now you can't get a popular hero who takes his shirt off and is not pumped up," he said.
Prior to the emergence of the attractive man, women were the only ones seen as objects of male lust, panel speakers said.
"Now that men are the center of the gaze, it is problematic for masculinity, particularly heterosexual masculinity,” Mentore said.
"The gaze not really what you are seeing, but how you can be seen,” Wilcox said. “In a male-dominated culture, this gaze is almost always” from a man’s standpoint.
"Women are still the object of men’s gaze," Lott said "But it is now legitimate to look at men with feminine bodies.”
Some audience members voiced their opinions about male beauty in the media In American culture at the end of the forum.
Fourth-year College student Nicholas Taylor used an animal analogy to show that males can be the center of attraction.
"Male peacocks are more beautiful than the females," Taylor said. “Their elaborate feathers appeal to the female peacocks."
Other audience members said they enjoyed the discussion topic, as well as the program's structure.
"I liked that it was very laidback and not so rigidly academic," fourth-year College student Anne Bauers said.
The discussion was the second presentation entitled "The Politics of Beauty. " The series attempts to examine the correlation between physical appearance and societal perceptions.
“It's based on research that we did last semester by talking to students about what issues were most pressing for them," Women’s Center Program Coordinator Kim Roberts said.
“Over and over again, the same things came up: body image, eating disorders, pressure about style," Robbins said. "That’s why we decided to do the series."
The evening concluded with speakers' expectations for the 21st-century man
"l would like to remove ourselves from the identity of sexual prowess, to remove identity away from sexual fantasy," Mentore said.
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Date Added June 28, 2016
Date Modifed May 9, 2018
Collection Cavalier Daily: articles about LGBTQ issues

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