Filament magazine flies the flag for the female gaze

// 4 September 2009

I’m delighted to announce that the makers of Filament magazine successfully sold sufficient numbers of their first issue to change printers and become the first UK women’s magazine to feature an image of a naked man in all his erect glory! Editor Suraya Sidhu Singh contacted me to extend a big thank you to all The F Word readers who supported their campaign, and had this to say about the sexist double-standards of the publishing industry:

The UK publishing industry double-standard that Filament has now made one tiny inroad into, is a big part of what has kept genuinely erotic female-orientated imagery of men off the market. It has never had a legal basis – it has purely and simply been about people deciding what we want on our behalf, and therefore what gets to market. If a tiny magazine like Filament can challenge sexist rules from the dark ages, anyone can. It is a trap to believe that what is available on the market merely represents what sells – most of the decisions about what’s supplied to us are still based on poor, if any, evidence, and often largely on gender stereotypes. What gets out there branded ‘for women’ is part of what defines femininity in our times, so it’s all the more important that women create, support and demand what we actually want.

Filament have yet to secure a distribution deal, and a number of supposedly women-oriented sex shops have bizarrely declined to stock the magazine, for reasons as yet unknown, but the latest issue is available online for £5.89, and features all this lovely stuff.

If you’re interested in the the campaign to get publishers to print more images of men for the straight female gaze, you might like to check out Erotica Cover Watch (some images NSFW), a blog run by two female erotica writers who are sick of sexualised images of women being used to illustrate their work.

Comments From You

Jessica Burton // Posted 4 September 2009 at 2:22 pm

Excellent news!

Jennifer Drew // Posted 4 September 2009 at 5:58 pm

The next very important step is to show images of totally naked men with their sexual organs in their ‘natural state’ – ergo flaccid because men do not commonly walk around with erect penises. Still, challenging the embedded protection of male bodies is one step in the right direction. I wonder why some supposedly women-orientated sex shops are refusing to stock Filament. Surely it is not because Filament shows images of naked men in non-dominant sexualised poses? But then the issue of protecting men’s ‘private parts’ is one which has a very long history. Not so regarding images of totally naked women. The recent images of a totally naked man standing on the plinth in Trafalgar square is an apt example of male fear of exposure (pun intended).

wings // Posted 4 September 2009 at 10:03 pm

Hey, I’m from Romania and I’m so buying this magazine. It was time for such a magazine. I am sick and tired about how everybody says that they don’t want to see men naked, just women. Even women.

It seems like sexual arousal for women comes from buying shampoos and shoes, not from seeing and/feeling the man’s body.

It’s a pity that it will take some time before this will get really big and steady, but I hope those who started the magazine will have the power to see it grow. I would like to have it in my country, even if for that it will take probably 20 years.

Louise // Posted 5 September 2009 at 4:52 pm

Filament is a great magazine. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next issue. If you haven’t tried it yet go for it, the men are beautiful and the articles are well written. Totally worth the money. It’s great to be able to read a mag without a hundred pages of adds for overpriced clothes, too !

cycleboy // Posted 6 September 2009 at 3:34 pm

I recall a TV programme hosted by Joan Bakewell in which they showed a naked man with his erect penis pixellated out. I think Ms Bakewell said that it was showing the penis erect that was illegal. Or perhaps it was just against BBC rules.

I guess the argument is that women’s arousal can only be implied, whereas men’s is glaringly obvious. Hence, naked male and female bodies are oK, only erections are banned.

Good luck Filament. I, for one, hope you make a fortune.

Suraya // Posted 6 September 2009 at 3:44 pm

Jennifer – we already do show some images of men flaccid. There is one such image in Issue 2. However, the flaccid penis was one of the main reasons why readers of 80s women’s erotica magazine For Women felt that it didn’t cut the mustard (if you want to read more about this, try Clarissa Smith’s book One for the Girls) and we also had a very strong steer from our research community that if you’re going to show a penis in the context of erotica, it should be erect. Some people even pointed to the consent issue, which makes it difficult to be turned on by someone who clearly isn’t. However, if you’re just doing male “nude” photography (as opposed to erotic male photography, which is a hugely different thing), then of course there’s no issue with flaccid penises. And there is a smaller group of women who prefer that, so they shall have it too in Filament. Here and there. And some pants-on stuff for the gals who like that too. Yep – eggs in every basket is us!

wings – I haven’t sent one to Romania yet and would love to do so! Email us if you have any trouble with the check-out with paypal, we can usually find a way to get someone a copy if for some reason it’s difficult to get one via PayPal from their country.

Lara // Posted 7 September 2009 at 2:18 pm

Erect cocks are so much nicer to look at than their small and wrinkled counterparts. I saw a Jo Brand stand up the other night where she joked about the male equivalent to page 3, a gorgeous bloke with one ball popped out the side of his pants (or two at Xmas!). Cracked me up. Would love it if a paper actually had the guts to do it as a stunt!

Kay // Posted 7 September 2009 at 6:58 pm

Yay.

‘Cause it’s not objectification if women are doing it?

Let’s do away with double standards and all embrace pornography. Oh, sorry. When women are perpetuating an exploitative industry, it becomes ‘erotica’, right? So much more acceptable.

Laura // Posted 7 September 2009 at 7:06 pm

Kay,

The models consent to their images being used in this way, their pictures are published in a respectful context and they are recognised as subjects rather than objects: where’s the exploitation? The sex, porn and erotica industry is vast, some of it is exploitative, some of it isn’t; I really don’t see what’s to be gained from holding such a black and white view.

Daniela Vincenti // Posted 7 September 2009 at 10:51 pm

Dear Laura,

I wish the editors of Filament the best of luck in their endeavours but just remember that not all feminists are comfortable with such a magazine. We have campaigned for many years against the male-oriented porn industry. Many feminists are opposed to the commodification of the human body and to paying for sexual gratification, whether in the form of prostitution or purchasing explicit imagery/erotica/pornography.

Our thoughts were that we would be very hurt if it was our daughters and sisters being used in this way and similarly I would be shocked to see my brother or son naked, in a clearly sexualized contest, in this magazine. I can therefore sympathise with the thoughts of Kay above.

On a final note, from a mental and emotional health point of view, I would not recommend using highly idealized and largely unrealistic imagery of naked men to get aroused. After all the real men in our lives (well, for most of us at least!) have bulging waistlines, receding hairlines and all the other imperfections that make us love them all the more. Porn addiction is a real danger to both men and women and has ruined many relationship.

Charlie // Posted 8 September 2009 at 5:25 am

Sweet! Really happy about this.

For those of you ordering from over seas sites. I’m in Australia and my copy of the first edition got to me in mint condition and very disceetly packaged.

Way to go ladies!

Laura // Posted 8 September 2009 at 9:31 am

Daniela,

I don’t see the men in Filament being ‘used’. They choose to be there, they know the context in which the images are being published and while the concept of choice in relation to women appearing in porn or young girls wanting to be glamour models may be complicated given the pressure put on women to display themselves sexually for men, I don’t think the same pressure exists for men. (That’s not to say that women can’t or don’t freely choose to appear in porn etc, but I think the issue is more complex.) Readers aren’t encouraged to view them as objects to be used – there’s no ‘filthy slut’ / ‘dirty whore’ type language surrounding them as in much porn for men – and I think grown women and men are perfectly capable of choosing to turn each other on and be turned on without any lack of respect for the other person.

You may feel shocked if you were to see a man in your life naked in Filament, but I’d just be happy for them; I understand and agree that seeing women portrayed in a misogynistic sexual manner is problematic for feminists, but for me it’s the misogyny that’s the problem, not the nudity. There’s a difference between sexualising someone against their will or with the intent to insult and degrade them and publishing images of someone who wants to be viewed in a sexual manner.

Finally, the men in Filament are real men, of a variety of shapes and sizes, not ‘highly idealized and largely unrealistic’. Part of Filament’s aim is to show the variety of men that women find beautiful, and that could include receding hairlines and bellies (yum!). Like Kay, you’re conflating Filament’s mix of respectful images of men who choose to be sexualised for female viewers and intelligent articles and writing with the extreme negatives of misogynistic porn, and I don’t think that’s fair or helpful.

Catherine Redfern // Posted 8 September 2009 at 10:21 am

Hm.. well it’s the age old question isn’t it.

Is [activity X] wrong because it’s currently overwhelmingly sexist and mostly men do it to women, and things need to be made more equal – or is it wrong because it’s just wrong, and we need to stop doing [activity X] altogether.

This debate can be applied to pretty much everything, and it’s a reasonable debate to be had and I think both sides are reasonable feminist positions to take, and everyone will just have to choose for themselves what they think and act according to their own ethics.

suraya // Posted 8 September 2009 at 11:38 am

Daniela – I’d really suggest you have a look at Filament and then decide whether any of your comments are relevant to what we do.

If explicit material can be a force for ill in our lives – if it has that much power – then it follows that, if it conveys positive social values instead of negative ones (ie, celebrating difference, highlighting individuality, showing vulnerable as well as strong expressions of masculinity etc) then it can be a force for good, too.

polly // Posted 8 September 2009 at 5:35 pm

It’s a long lived myth that showing erect penises is illegal (though I can understand not wanting to see one unexpectedly on BBC1 personally, since I’ve got no wish to see them at all). But surely plenty of pics of naked men already exist, (ie gay male porn) so I can’t really see a market for a magazine that costs a small fortune showing arty looking pictures of dudes with or without erect penises.

And I’m with Daniela in that I can’t see anything feminist about such an endeavour. To suggest that a small circulation magazine is going to reverse the objectification of women misses the point about power imbalance in society. And if something’s bad when men do it to women, it doesn’t become good if women do it to men.

wings // Posted 8 September 2009 at 5:35 pm

Suraya,

that is exactly why you haven’t sent the magazine to Romania yet – I’m trying to figure out the whole Paypal system, since until now I haven’t been forced to buy smth outside my country. But I will either place my order in a few days or I will try to contact you to see what can be done.

Sorry for the very off topic comment.

Suraya // Posted 8 September 2009 at 7:18 pm

Polly makes a good point that there’s a lot of explicit gay porn available, but it is a leap of logic to think that because women don’t buy gay porn, then they don’t want explicit (or erotic) portrayals of men. It’s a bit like arguing that because men don’t buy genuine “lesbian porn made for and by lesbians” (such as Slit Magazine), then they don’t like erotic portrayals of the female body. If they do consume “lesbian porn”, it’s made for and by men with its own aesthetic, and that’s the rub: even Playgirl simply largely bought their images off the gay market. No wonder that didn’t turn us on: we’re not gay men in skirts. Mostly :)

I don’t claim that Filament alone is going to change the slew of objectionable material out there, and again I’d highly suggest you check out Filament before you decide that it’s in any way a women’s equivalent to a standard lads or porn mag. We’ve tried to make a new way with erotic content that doesn’t contain the concerns that people usually call “objectifications”… I mean, do you think every time you discreetly check out a hot guy in the park, you’re objectifying him? And if you are, should you flagellate yourself over it, or is it actually harmless fun?

We are a small publication, you’re right, but we also know that the mere existence of Filament is making waves at some major publishers. I hope this means they’re realising that scraping the bucket isn’t necessarily the best way to make erotic image/porn, and that not all women want to be constantly bombarded with erotic images of other women, but we’ll have to see what happens. I desperately hope this leads to more publications/websites like Filament, for women and for men, and less degrading rubbish. I’m personally looking forward to a future where the top shelf has even just a handful of titles for women – at least that way it offers women another way of engaging with their visual sexual needs rather than consuming highly-processed images of other women all the time.

By all means try to stop people consuming as much degrading porn – that’s an awesome mission. For me, asking people to stop enjoying erotic image ‘full stop’ is unrealistic (for a start, because half the National Gallery is filled with it), and I don’t believe that erotic image per se is degrading, although some (even, a lot) of the material out there these days is. So my choice was to suggest an alternative to what is currently offered.

@ wings – please do contact me if you’re having any more probs!

Suraya // Posted 8 September 2009 at 7:32 pm

Polly – Also not terribly sure how £4.99 + P&P qualifies as “a small fortune”. I personally don’t know of any independent magazine that offers 72 full colour ad-free pages that aren’t grant or government for less.

Daniela Vincenti // Posted 9 September 2009 at 1:10 am

Laura, Catherine, Suraya and Polly, many thanks for your posts.

As Catherine succintly said this boils down to an issue of personal morality and I fully realize that different women will often have different ideas. I will elaborate further on my thoughts in this post not to be stubborn but to try to show where I’m coming from and why I take a particular stance.

I agree to a certain extent that women are under more pressure than men to display themselves sexually as this is still largely the societal norm. However, I still think there is a tinge of hypocrisy and double standards if we understandibly seek to discourage women from becoming glamour girls/topless models/etc whilst simultaneously celebrating men who choose to expose themselves fully.

Whilst I accept that both male and female models can make a “free choice” to appear naked I think this is often a mistake that can damage their emotional health. If someone has an exhibisionist streak in their sexuality that they would like to explore there are many safer or less drastic things I can think of (… leaving the bathroom door open whilst showering for your partner to sneak in …). Also keep in mind that once someone has posed naked the deed is done and if say years later she/he changes mind the photos/magazine/webpage will always remain there and cannot be removed.

I agree totally that Filament is very different from certain misogynist male oriented porn. Insulting language and degrading images are much more offensive than respectful nudity but I consider the latter to be a lesser evil rather than something morally positive.

Regarding Suraya’s post about positive social values in explicit material my view is that individuals are the building block of any society. As an individual the consumption of explicit material can tarnish my sexual interaction with my partner and hurt his feelings and self-esteem. Bottom line is I would be a bit upset if he got off on pictures of other women and started neglecting me so I try not to do that to him. I think a better goal for individuals and society is not a more egalitarian and diverse porn industry but no porn at all.

I have not bought the magazine Suraya but I think I have got a good idea of its type of content from the blog and posts. I would certainly like to read the articles and would probably be comfortable with photos of men in underwear, where the male physique can be admired without the unnecessary intrusion of intimacy. I would not be happy going further than that though.

Hugs and kisses to everyone.

Suraya // Posted 9 September 2009 at 9:55 am

I wrote about discouraging young women from becoming glamour models in my editorial this issue. It was one of my reasons for starting Filament. My basic point was if you’re a straight woman, and society doesn’t allow you any erotic image of men asides from gay ones (note, you live in a society that’s absolutely papered with erotic images of women), you are actively having your choices in how you express your sexuality limited, which seems to, logically speaking, make the likelihood of you becoming a glamour model greater.

It’s worth considering that viewing the likes of Filament might actually improve your partner’s self-esteem, not harm it. The range of male appearances, physiques, ages and ethnicities in Filament is broader than you tend to see on TV, in film etc. I also refer you to a comment made by a man who emailed who subscribes on behalf of his girlfriend, “If [name] looks at other men, I can know her choice is a real one.”

In erotica, context is everything, which is why Filament is a magazine, not a website. So once again, I don’t think you can judge Filament without seeing it, as a lot of the criticisms you’ve raised seem not to apply. I hate saying this because it sounds like I’m trying to make a sale – so even if you just looked at someone else’s copy I really think you’d find it useful in making your argument.

Kay // Posted 9 September 2009 at 2:26 pm

Dear Laura,

Your remarks are almost exactly the same as those used by ‘respectable’ men’s magazines such as playboy. Women are, like, empowered by taking control of their bodies. I’m sorry, but after reading Filament I really don’t see how it’s any different.

Oh, I only bought it for the articles ;)

Laura // Posted 9 September 2009 at 2:46 pm

Kay, obviously we don’t see eye to eye on this so I won’t add anything further, but I would like to point out that I never once used the word ’empowered’. I don’t think posing naked for a magazine has anything to do with empowerment, be it men or women doing the posing.

Lara // Posted 9 September 2009 at 3:23 pm

“I think a better goal for individuals and society is not a more egalitarian and diverse porn industry but no porn at all.”

I totally disagree and think a more egalitarian and diverse porn industry is a better goal. I know many men and women who enjoy pornography and I would not want ‘no porn at all’. This is also a totally unrealistic goal. It would be like saying you want ‘no alcohol at all’ just because you choose to abstein and want your partner to abstein for personal reasons. You must appreciate that some people choose to consume pornography as part of a healthy sex life.

However much of the available images are produced for the male gaze and as such we must ensure that representation is fair for both the sexes. Can anyone here recommend some female friendly websites?

suraya // Posted 9 September 2009 at 3:56 pm

Lara, very much agree with you there.

For female-friendly porn websites, I’ve had some great conversations with the makers of ‘For the girls’ (more mainstream) and ‘Shot with desire’ (more alternative), and really appreciate what they’re trying to achieve. The former features mainly men, the latter contains models of both sexes, together and separately.

I’ve also had the female porn directors Anna Span, Belladonna and Erika Lust (all pretty explicit) recommended to me by women. Opinions vary as always, though!

Daniela Vincenti // Posted 10 September 2009 at 1:18 am

Lara, just to clarify that statement you quoted from me, I’m not advocating banning porn or making it illegal. Personal freedom is important for me, I would not want to enforce my values on others. And it is not really a case of me wanting my partner to abstain. We decided together that we would try to avoid it. Now guess what… we are both human and occasionally we have succumbed to temptation and watched it. Afterwards I generally feel some guilt due to the incongruity with my personal moral views, which I described in some detail in my previous posts.

I agree that a healthy sex life and consuming porn are not mutually exclusive, but it does tend to sap your desire, especially if you masturbate to it. Of course some couples view porn just to get in the mood and fine if it works for them. Personally I would find myself wandering whether he was really thinking of me or the women he was watching five minutes ago. Besides, you don’t have to take my word for it. Try to agree with your partner to avoid porn and masturbation for a couple of weeks and see how it goes. You haven’t got much to lose and the result might surprise you.

Of course it is unrealistic to believe that society can be free from porn, but would it not be worthwile to at least pursue that ideal? I’m in my early forties and remember that twenty years ago in an assembly of feminists you would have struggled to find two or three that were pro-porn. We valued an individual’s sense of dignity. Fast forward 2009 and you find feminists brazenly exchanging pornsite tips on a blog. Pornography has become so pervasive in our lives through the Internet that our movement seems to have given up all efforts to challenge it. I feel like we have thrown away our principles, got all realpolitik and pragmatic, and proclaimed our own femporn so as not to lose ground to the patriarchy.

Or maybe society has moved on, social mores have changed and I am becoming a right wing git….

Good night to all

saranga // Posted 10 September 2009 at 11:39 am

@ Daniela, just to say I don’t think you’re a right wing git!

from my point of view, I dislike most porn because an overwhelmingly majority of it is degrading and misogynist. However I do like some that i’ve seen but i think the non degrading stuff is in the minority and difficult to find.

your idea for abstaining for a couple of weeks is an interesting one and may eb worth pursuing (for me and my partner)

Lara // Posted 10 September 2009 at 12:54 pm

I think something that has changed considerably in the last twenty years is that women feel more confident about saying ‘I have a sex drive’, ‘I like sex’ and ‘I masturbate’. Part of masturbation for me, on occasion, is using pornography. I don’t think I’m arguing here about partners becoming so hooked that there sexual relationship with their partner suffers, as I’m single. As someone who occasionly views it, but finds much of what she finds depressing, I would like advice on websites / films geared towards women / female gaze. Less of the ageing, fat man screwing a nympho with plastic spheres on her chest and calling her a ‘filthy whore’, but depictions of cunnilingus (man on woman – so hard to find!) male-female, female-female sex scenes where women are in control and for the love of god a genuine orgasm.

wings // Posted 15 September 2009 at 5:41 pm

So, I just ordered the magazine today and I can’t wait for it to arrive.

Until then, I have to say a couple of things about what was said around here.

I don’t think the magazine is expensive. I’ve ordered both numbers and they reach the amount of 3 usual magazines for women. The conversion rate Pounds to Romanian Lei(1 GBP is 5 RON, and I paid around 58 RON with airmail) is huge and not in my benefit, but still I think it’s ok.

I’ve read a lot of pornographic magazines and I highly doubt that the content of Filament is the same. Men perceive us as objects, while women look at men as human beings, so I don’t think the depiction of a naked male in a magazine for women will ever be the same as the depiction of naked women in man’s magazines. To begin with, the male pornography depicts body parts and not people and the humiliation and degradation used in those simple pictures is phenomenal. Not to mention what it is said in the little stories backing up those pictures.

I do think that this is feminist since it celebrates my freedom to choose what I want to see and want I want to consider sexy or sensual. It is feminist because it gives me a freedom which the patriarchal society has denied to me. The fact that men from their most youngest ages know how female’s genitalia look like and what they can be used for makes me feel powerless to a certain point. Until a certain age, men of my own age know more(at least skin deep, so to say) about my sex than I do. As a woman, not only I am deprived of the same thing – in revers, but i am also not allowed to know more about my own body.

Especially since a lot of sex ed nowadays is made through porn, we need this kind of magazines. Not saying anything about our own sexual desires makes men think we approve of their image of sex and sexuality. Silence is approval in many cases.

For example, in my country there is no sex ed, so people take everything from watching TV. I, in particular, was interested in the subject, so I read and watched everything I could put my hands(and eyes) on, from medical books to sleazy porn. Now I can say I know a thing or two, but most people learn everything from male porn. Do we really want that to be our only alternative?

About using gay porn….I’m a WOMAN. Why would I want to look at something created for the benefit of the opposite gender? This kind of assumption says, partially, that gay men and women are the same thing and they have the same sexual desires. I mean, if you wouldn’t start from this assumption, why else would anyone gear me towards male porn? In my point of view, gay porn is still male porn and has nothing to do with me and my desires as a woman. Not to mention that men presented there are as stereotyped as their female counterparts.

Last, but not least…I WANT to see cocks. Why? To get accustomed, to like them, to embrace the sexuality in its entirety. Most women I’ve talked to seriously dislike the men’s penis and there are a lot of young women who have recently begun their sex and still don’t know how a men’s penis looks like. Seriously! My question is how can you have a good, healthy sexual relationship if you hate or find ugly the sex of your partner?

I’ve said above about the male privilege of looking at a woman’s genitalia from a very young age. It is a privilege. How can you expect women to enjoy sex if they aren’t allowed to know how it works and how it really looks like. The only naked men you see here are from male porn and that is not a good view. Not even when they look half decent.

I want to see more types of men, not only those from mainstream media, including porn. I have certain preferences which the media has never complied with and it makes me feel..well, unsatisfied. Plus, it would not be so bad for men to see what women really want and maybe to try and get into shape. We think that we talk about unrealistic images for/about men because we have been trained by the media to accept as male standard only the extremely chiseled, dark haired guy with extremely male features. But that doesn’t represent the vast majority of our desires as the blond, big breasted, dumb woman is not for many men(but the media is slowly pushing for that).

Monty // Posted 15 September 2009 at 8:57 pm

“Men perceive us as objects, while women look at men as human beings, so I don’t think the depiction of a naked male in a magazine for women will ever be the same as the depiction of naked women in man’s magazines.”

Good luck in dealing with absolutes, they won’t serve you well.

Exactly what is the difference between playboy and playgirl?

wings // Posted 15 September 2009 at 11:47 pm

@Monty

First, playgirl never made it to my country. But playboy along with many official porn mags and unofficial and scary porn mags did. I do wonder why.

Second, if it’s related to playboy(as a holding i mean, although i don’t know), it’s run by men, so the woman’s opinion has no matter into what it’s printed out. Usually men already know what we like. I think in one of the comment s above someone said how disappointing playgirl as an erotic/porn mag for women it as.

Thirdly, from what i know and see, playboy is “cute and sweet” towards women(at least the Romanian version, can’t vouch for other editions) to the point I don’t quite think it’s porn, at least not considering what you can see today everywhere. When i said sleazy porn i didn’t mean that porn is sleazy, i was talking about the sleazy kind of porn.

I don’t really see the hardcore in playboy mag, but if you mean the exact same type of portrayal, the question is more: what is the level of women’s desires represented by those pictures? Since we refer to filament as the first mag with naked men for women(maybe I’m wrong) which actually does tap into women’s desire, how valid is the point you’re trying to make?

If you read both posts on filament and go to site, you’ll see that it also tries to show what the human behind the man is about, putting him into a context. Not like men’s mags who only concentrate on body parts and making sure everything she says is according to male fantasies.

I’ll say more after i receive the 2 numbers of filament.

Until then, i can’t make a parallel between men’s mag and women’s mag (I’m obviously referring to the erotic/porn type) and their depiction of the opposite gender.

RadFemHedonist // Posted 20 September 2009 at 12:30 am

I don’t want men to get into shape for me, sexy men are ones who recognise women as their equals, who aren’t racist, homophobic or ableist and who don’t violate anyone’s right to ownership of their own body, I don’t care if they’re fat and bald or whatever, I do not want beauty standards for men, I want beauty standards to disappear altogether.

suraya // Posted 20 September 2009 at 3:23 pm

RadFemHedonist makes a great point, but the mere act of representing or enjoying men visually is not necessarily the same as applying beauty standards to them.

There is evidence that men are abusing steroids etc to try and achieve the body shapes that are promoted in the likes of Men’s Health, mistakenly believing the uber-muscled dude is every woman’s fantasy. This research covers the issue well:

http://bit.ly/Fex0U

We will not solve this problem by not representing men erotically, because that will not make “Men’s Health” and their misrepresentation of what women find attractive disappear. The fact that women are basically silent in our society about what we do find sexy in men, which is very broad, merely gives the body building supplements and gyms more power to construct ideals of masculinity that will increase their sales.

Right now the most popular page in Filament is our reader-submitted photos of their boyfriends, husbands and male friends. I love showing it to guys, because they almost always say, “I’m as good-looking as him, I could be in this…” Which gives me stuff to publish and makes men realise they’re sexy when the rest of the world is trying to tell them they’re not so that they’ll buy useless stuff they don’t need. Win/win.

polly styrene // Posted 20 September 2009 at 8:31 pm

“Exactly what is the difference between playboy and playgirl?”

Well I don’t ever recall seeing the playgirl bunny logo everywhere, the playgirl clothing range, playgirl stationery in WH smith, playgirl duvet sets, playgirl glasses (the spectacle type), etc, etc, need I go on?

According to Wikipedia Playgirl magazine is no longer published.

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