A fresh, unconventional look at the male body and contemporary notions of masculinity.
The male nude is everywhere now, from mainstream movies to magazine covers. What do we see when men take off their clothes, in public and in private? Is the male body truly exposed? In this candid cultural analysis, Susan Bordo speaks to men and women alike, scrutinizing the images and experiences of everyday life.
Drawing on personal anecdotes and insights from movies, novels, advertisements, news stories, and academic work, she inspects the assumptions that influence our perspectives on date rape, harassment, homosexuality, and pornography. She also considers recent changes in perceptions of masculinity, including a look at ad campaigns displaying the male body, the booming male beauty industry, and androgynous body ideals. Playboy, Marlon Brando, Viagra, Calvin Klein, The Full Monty, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Michael Jordan, and Philip Roth are all subjects of discussion. But whether she is examining Clarence Thomas, John Travolta, or Humbert Humbert, the butch phallus or her own grade-school experiences, Bordo rejects rigid characterizations. In exchange, she gives us a frank, tender view of her own father’s body, a refreshing look at the penis in all its incarnations, and, overall, a clear and candid vision of men as flesh-and-blood human beings.
NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF THE MALE BODY, JUNE 1999