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The woman in the header: Part II
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Written by Amanda Gannon   
Tuesday, 04 October 2011 04:55

Last week in The Woman in the Header, we talked about how women's bodies have become cultural shorthand for the concept of "sexy," and how male sexiness is chronically misunderstood, ignored, or deprecated by people who aren't attracted to men.

This week we're going to look at how the media botches the job of presenting male sexiness to us, which keeps that vicious circle going.

It happens in writing, it happens in photography, it happens in movies, both mainstream and porn.  Artists or writers who are not, themselves, interested in men realize they need some male sex appeal and throw a caricature out there, expecting man-liking folks to take the bait.  Given that they don't understand male sexiness to begin with, they frankly haven't got a hope in hell of deliberately highlighting what makes men sexy.  They might hit the ball by accident – swing enough times and you'll eventually connect – but it's not something they understand.  It's not helped by the fact that many of these same folks tend to have a very limited idea of what makes women sexy.  They are demonstrating a woefully limited vision straight across the board, and they are part of the problem, absolutely.

But there are many good photographers (writers, artists) who don't have that problem.  Many, many sexy pictures of men do convey actual sexiness, and yet these are dismissed as, again, "too girly," "gay," etc.  And so, so many of these cases, the problem is firmly in the eye of the beholder.  I'm not saying everyone needs to agree with me on what makes a sexy man, but I am saying that it would do everyone a world of good if folks would just agree that men can be sexy, too, and that depictions of male hotness aren't somehow worth less than depictions of female sexiness, and aren't fundamentally laughable.  And if they would realize that, if you aren't attracted to men, and you haven't spent a long time being acclimated to what is considered attractive in men, you are in a poor position to judge how successful attempts at portraying sexy men really are.

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This Is Not About You
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Written by Paul   
Thursday, 29 September 2011 05:04

I have been trying to pin down in my own mind what it is that separates what we do from the porn that I do not like, or rather Do Not Like, because this is more than just a "isn't getting me hard" kind of dislike, it is a real, bedrock problem with the way porn is usually made and specifically the way women are depicted in it.

I know, hardly a new topic, but one dear to my heart.  There is a lot of talk about how painting women as in any way submissive, powerless, prettied-up, or in any way fanservicey is inherently wrong and bad.  And I always think to myself "then why do so many women seem to fantasize about being held captive by the Sexy Pirate?  Or disciplined by the Harsh Schoolmaster/Mistress, ravished by the Hot Vampire, chased down and taken by the Sex Werewolf?  Why are so many situations of power and dominance, of captivity and authority so rife with sexual undertones if depicting that kind of thing is sexist and wrong on the face of it?" 

When you have a sexy fantasy, you know exactly how you feel about it and what it means.  You know your rape fantasies about Blackbeard/Dracula/Countess Bathory do not reflect how you feel about yourself or about women in general - you know that because you are the one on the inside, feeling and thinking it.  It is a story in your head, but it is a story about your pleasure.

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The woman in the header.
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Written by Amanda Gannon   
Monday, 26 September 2011 23:23
Designing the header for this site was an interesting experience.

I like to think that we cater to a more intelligent, sophisticated, open-minded audience, but a header makes a strong first impression, and no matter what solution I would have preferred, what really mattered in terms of getting the job done was, and is, how it is perceived by others.

Which is why I worried myself sick over whether or not to use a human being in the header.  Our work is meant to appeal to both men and women, ergo, I wanted to include a man and a woman, but there wasn't room.  Left with the choice of only one, I felt driven to choose a woman, and then felt so disgusted by the whole issue I made a header with no people in it at all, so that I could try to figure out what I want to do without delaying the site launch into perpetuity.  And I am still wrestling with it.

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