Monday, April 11, 2011

Working on being a man pt.10

This is one of many parts in the ongoing series of working on being a man. They aren't in any special order I just number them to keep up with them.

This week I want to talk about male body image. Its something that doesn't come up a lot. For the most part society doesn't think that men can be desired sexually (which if you take heteronomativity into account this goes hand in hand with the idea that women cannot have sexual desire). There's a few examples of it here and here but despite those sources inspiring this post that's not where I'm going with this today.

You see I get the feeling there are a lot of men out there that actually acknowledge that men can be sexually desired and that women do have sexual desire. In fact we see it everyday on a regular basis so we know it happens. We just don't think it happens to us.

If you recall a while back I talked about why I hated having my picture taken (thats a work in progress). Well a part of why that's the case is that I just don't think I'm that attractive. Its not a matter of thinking that since I'm a guy I can't be desired. In fact my body image issues on attraction actually depend on the notion that men can be sexually desired but unlike other men who are attractive and are desired I myself an not attractive and not desirable. (This is isn't to say that what figleaf and Clarisse say doesn't hold true, I'm just saying that when it comes to men who feel they are not attractive there is more going on, which they may very well acknowledge and just don't go into.)

Perhaps the notion that men cannot be desired has become a mask for men to hide behind so that everyone can forget the fact that we do indeed have body image issues (mind you I don't think said mask was created for this purpose). That way we can keep our hurt feelings hidden away (and remember the script of being a man says that having hurt feelings is not allowed) behind the belief that people aren't really caring about our looks anyway. While it can save pain in the short run it can cause a lot (if not more) pain in the long run when we do start to speak up about our feelings about our bodies (talk about one hell of a double whammy, fessing up to hurt feelings and having body image issues).

This mask must be broken and its going to take more than realizing that men can be sexually desirable to do it. Like I've said I (and guys like me) know that there are men that are considered attractive and desirable. The trick is that each one of us is going around thinking something like, "I'm not attractive those other guys. I'm not desirable like those other guys. Something is wrong with me." Its going to take each one of us realizing that while we may not look like the idea image of a man (which is another story for another day) we are attractive in our own way and there more than likely someone somewhere would find us desirable.

2 comments:

Sheena said...

Where did you get this idea that men can't be desired? I scanned your links but I didn't find much.

Feeling attractive has nothing to do with anyone but the person doing the feeling. I think you're a good looking guy, Danny. Does that change how you feel, though? I can say from experience that judging your body with someone else's standards is setting yourself up for disaster and disappointment.

For me, after years of people telling me I am beautiful I finally know it and believe it. It was only after liking myself on the inside that changed the way I saw my outside. I don't know what your process of working on your self image is, but I hope it's coming along. Seeing a beautiful person in the mirror everyday is a great feeling. (And yes men can be beautiful.)

Danny said...

How goes it Sheena?

Where did you get this idea that men can't be desired? I scanned your links but I didn't find much.
Its not so much a matter of not being desired but being desired in a purely sexual/physical manner. Leading to men thinking they we must do other things to be considered sexy or wanted (like having money, status, and power). A vicious force that goes hand in hand with women being expected to be physically/sexually desired to the point where they must forsake other things (like money, status, and power).

Check out that link to figleaf's blog (realadultsex) for a list of things that contribute to those forces (I can't guarantee that the list if fully accurate but a lot of it is).


Feeling attractive has nothing to do with anyone but the person doing the feeling.
In theory you should be right. However when this...:
I think you're a good looking guy, Danny.
is one of the few (if not only) times you can think of someone telling you you look good (thank you) then to an extent...:
Does that change how you feel, though?
Yes it actually does a bit.

Its a matter of validation. Ultimately you are right that it should be up to me and me alone but its hard to believe that after years of being either ignored or being told you aren't attractive (I have serious body image issues, so serious that I've only recently begun to admit to myself that I do and start working on them).

For me, after years of people telling me I am beautiful I finally know it and believe it.
For me its a matter of after years of people telling me I'm not attractive and believing it its a bit of an uphill climb. I know you can't change history but I get the feeling that if I had gotten a mix rather than all negative I would not be having such a hard time working on it now.

I don't know what your process of working on your self image is, but I hope it's coming along.
Its actually pretty simple. What I do it once a week (sometimes more than once but at least once) after coming home from work I'll simply take pictures of myself. You see I've never liked having my picture taken (I go into it a bit more here, http://dannyscorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/2011/01/man-his-fat-and-his-hatred-of-photos.html) and by facing that I think I will do a lot of good for myself.

Seeing a beautiful person in the mirror everyday is a great feeling. (And yes men can be beautiful.)
Yes it is and I'm getting there. Kinda like that old Stuart Smally bit from Saturday Night Live.

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