Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Junk And Fig Leaves: The Curse of Genital Shaming

    Western society has form when it comes to the image of the nude masculine beauty ideal: far from ars gratia artis, these images form useful symbolism for the promotion of nationalism. From Ancient Greece through J.J.Winckelmann’s 18th Century revivalism to the Nazi acquisition of The Discobolus and onsold to us via 1950’s American muscle culture, we observe a recurrent theme. The attractive representation reinforces a doctrine of male perfectibility through restraint and self-discipline, with “weakness” being kept in check. Penises are also notably kept in check: deliberately infantilized male genitalia represent status and control over moral turpitude in the Classical oeuvre, and the habit permeates modern maleness from the cradle to the grave. We are then left to question exactly what the perfect nude male and his genitalia subliminally represents to the homosexualist as much as to anybody else, and how it will impact on his sexual psyche and subsequent emotional well-being.

The most famous dick of all time is worn by Michelangelo’s shamelessly naked and sexually ambiguous David. It’s also the most ridiculed dick of all time to the point that art and cartoon are now one, and nobody ever mentions his ass. It’s all pretty much on par with a crude mustache painted on a Mona Lisa postcard. The public discourse has nothing to do with relaxed comfort around the male nude, just as it has nothing to do with appreciation of flawlessly executed sculpture. Scholars don’t help by assigning lofty messages of freedom and republicanism to the piece while overlooking the sexuality of both sculptor and subject. To state that how we experience Michelangelo's masterpiece is entirely point-of-view dependent is indeed an understatement.
    Uncircumcised and defiantly pagan in political intent and powerfully homoerotic in personal intent, David and his little dick are culturally diminished to four meters of marble which neither threatens nor arouses. Viewed from straight-on without the sculptor’s intended perspective, we’re a man just looking at a disproportionate and apparently defenseless youth. The real charge is experienced when we look up at the statue as intended: we become a boy contemplating a naked man. His focus on preparation for the battle of brains versus brawn doesn’t initially involve us because we first sense a massive and reassuring male right hand in gentle repose. Devoid of false modesty or fetish, David dignifies innate maleness as well as homosexuality to its core, with his dick being as complementary as any dick could be.

    But dicks and dignity don't usually crop up in the same sentence. The resurgence of pejorative usage of "dick" to put a man down isn't exactly a giant step for mankind, despite its apparent political correctness. One debate we could all benefit from is “Just how damaging is male genital shaming?” The practice is widespread across society. It includes – but is not limited to – everything from outright disgust to ridicule, snickering and dismissal as 'junk'. Junk is defined as useless and valueless, and when underscored with connotations of general filth you can be certain that some male somewhere is experiencing significant devaluation of his humanity and maleness. When similar derogatory terminologies are used towards female’s genitals we appropriately question exactly what's being said about females in general. Obversely, the reactionary men's rights movements could probably serve us all a whole lot better by thinking more about male genital packages, less about the perceived threat of feminism and honest recognition of their similarity to the specific Puritanism of some modern faux-feminists.
   One group certainly has been thinking a lot about male genital packages, and doing so with the homophobic malice that Queer Theory often inverts to. In order for one to embrace the pseudo-scientific beliefs which seek to replace sex with gender one must first accept the idea that actual observed and recorded genitalia does not determine sex, and also cannot be of sexuality. Gender theorists extrapolate wildly to the point of deceitfully insisting that attraction to - and being aroused by - a big hard organic dick is just another fetish...in order to advance 'identity' demands ahead of innate sex and sexuality. In a breathtaking leap of faith, a female-to-male 'gay man' expects homosexuals to accept with approval (and sexual arousal) whatever they have between their legs - be it a surgical mutilation or an intact vagina in various stages of chemical alteration. 
  From antiquity on, diverse societies have attached diverse meanings to a big hard dick. Coy historians are comfortable with a mindset restricted to matters of fertility and/or an embodiment of phallic generative power. Classical Greeks however disapproved of large male genitalia as barbarously uncivilized while Romans approved to the point of generally appreciating it's feel-good properties from invoking good omens to the advertising of sex. Be it according to Post-post-modern gender theorists or broader society, homophobic puritanism claims that attraction to an erect phallus is simply of aberrant homosexuality when it's actually the primary driver of sexual arousal in all males. Heterosexual males are aroused by a big boner at about roughly the same rate rate (as homosexuals). We know this because consumers of straight pornography expect to see a big hard male dick because it powerfully stimulates their sex drive.  

Donatello's David (1440)
   Our hyper-masculine world isn’t quite as it appears: pubescent males aren’t encouraged to sport any bulge at all – let alone an impressive one. And that's highly problematic in terms of a young male's seamless debut into manhood from youth. What was once celebrated as an Age of Man is now but a social problem defined by reckless self-harm, as supported by crime and road-accident statistics. The history of the nude in art is compelling and probably telling: the 19th Century saw the female nude elevated while the male nude fell out of favor and only to be celebrated by the homosexual gaze...the specification and subsequent vilification of  'the homosexual' being coincidentally of the same century.  Michelangelo's David (as with other artists' representations) stress a boy/man duality flaunting his genitals along with his victory over a far more mannish man. We can't put an accurate age on David, but we can certainly put a male quality on him: youthfully exuberant, immodest and confident enough for manhood. The message that dick-shaming has no place in a male's rite-of-passage is obvious. It makes perfect sense then for any contemporary healthy male of any age to be attracted to pornography: it’s currently the only guaranteed safe space where a guy won’t be subjected to genital shaming despite viewing more impressive equipment than his own. Within that apparent paradox lie obvious business opportunities for penile enhancement industries, but admiration, shame and commerce are never what they appear to be, and an ever-ageing population of men in power may very well despise youths who shamelessly demonstrate virility for the sake of virility.

One is then left to wonder about the impact of broad male genital shaming on how men perceive themselves. Psychological study underlying the forwarding of dick pics suggests more avenues for investigation than it explains. The need for validation as a male is just one. The dick pic itself isn't revealing of anything beyond medical sexual identification. It's not even revealing the man as an image of a male nude, and can often be a distraction from evaluating what one's likely to be confronted with in real life. (In a bizarre twist, homosexuals may soon have to demand dick pics from all as proof that they're actually biological males, not 'gay' LARPers attempting the deceit of bait-and-switch.)
Not all biological males present as Michelangelo's David. While David's sumptuous maleness is informed by long-ago ideals around male beauty, he timelessly exudes naked male body confidence like no other. He has no coloring and no voice. He has no scent and no body hair, yet he's the embodiment of truthful maleness replete with a dick, and it's everyman's dick. Treasure trails after all don’t lead to junk. You don’t have to be a size queen or The Bottom That Ate Boston to sense wonder when you pull down a guy’s pants to experience whatever he’s got between his legs. 

That it’s there and that it's innately male is cause enough for celebration.

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