Can we have some penis?

The first time I’d really thought about it or noticed (the lack of) it was while watching a lingerie show on Fashion TV.

There were female models parading in next-to-nothings. Wispy laces, satin and silk and see-through garments that that were more see than through. You could see the nipples, the shading of the areola and even how one female models’ cleft was perhaps slightly longer than the other. I was watching and thinking how washing anything so delicate – and I mean the lingerie here – would be a bitch when this male model walked on to the catwalk.
He was black/of African descent/ coloured/ whatever’s fuckingpolitically correct, lean and chiseled in just the right way and wore really transparent boxer shorts. Only you could not see anything because FTV had thoughtfully pixellated the model’s privates. That’s when I noticed and felt quite cheated. If it was a lingerie show and women’s privates were on show, why was there a pixellated penis? Why wasn’t it shown?

Last night Partner and I were watching another episode of Boardwalk Empire; the latest politico-mafia show that’s aspiring for television greatness. Set in the 1920s when The US declared Prohibition and inspired by the life of Atlantic City’s (New Jersey, USA) corrupt politician Nucky Johnson, I find the story quite intriguing. I like the story more from a historical perspective rather than due to any interest in the central character, Nucky Thompson (based on Johnson portrayed by Steve Buscemi). 

We’ve watched most of the first season – two episodes left – and so far I’ve not really warmed to any of the characters. Despite the power, charisma and cunning that Thompson is supposed to portray, I find Buscemi’s portrayal quite lukewarm and unconvincing. Thompson is nothing like Al Swearengen (Ian McShane in Deadwood) or Toni Soprano (James Gandolfini in The Sopranos). For one, both McShane and Gandolfini seemed to bring their characters to life; they made me believe they were Swearengen and Toni respectively. Buscemi on the other hand seems somewhat uncomfortable in his role. He neither conveys the menace of a man who controlled the entire political machinery nor does he convey the charm he is supposed to have had over women. Wondering what Boardwalk Empire has to do with penises?

One of the recurring characters on the show is of this chick called Lucy Danziger (played by Paz de la Huerta). Right from the first time she makes an appearance on the show to last night’s episode (Season one, episode 10), I am sick of seeing her vulva flashed on screen. if she’s not standing buck naked in front of the mirror in one episode, she’s flashing it while sitting on her chair and in last night’s episode, she’s grinding away to glory complete with a close up. It TOTALLY pissed me off. 

Showing a bit of breast – or a lot of it – has become mundane now. The breasts are only somewhat lower than the eyes. Showing breasts has become so commonplace that sometimes entire tv shows are scripted around how many breasts you can show per episode. Like the Underbelly series which go something like this: Boob, boob, partly hidden boob, oh-my-god someone is killed, boob, boob, five boobs, boring narration while characters are in slow motion, squished boob, the rest of the story, more boob. Basically, showing breasts is boring now. It is expected. The next (apparently) logical step on television therefore is to turn it up the action, show frontal nudity. 

Scene from French movie Grande école
Frontal nudity is when the male or female genitalia are shown on screen. Or simply put when the penis and/or the vulva are shown. In reality though, on-screen frontal nudity usually means a woman’s entire body will be shown while you will either not be shown the penis or it will be dutifully pixellated. It pisses me off because it smacks of hypocrisy. If we are so fucking accepting of nudity – we are cool, we don’t cringe at naked bodies – why is it STILL only the female body that is shown in totality? What about the penis then? I am sick of watching shows that flash a woman’s body and either don’t show anything of a man’s or at the most show a male butt. According to some, the penis is not shown because it’s not pretty. You don’t say! Frankly, no matter how many times it’s referred to as a flower, a fruit or an oyster, the vulva is not pretty. Neither are oysters by the way.  

My problem with frontal nudity:  It’s fucking sexist. Apparently women are now liberated. Apparently it’s “you go girl” where women earn as much as men, where a woman can become the prime minister of Australia (Ms Gillard), where a woman (apparently) is the most powerful person in India (Mrs Sonia Gandhi) and a world where women totally identify with a porn-watching Samantha Jones in Sex and the City. And yet we ONLY show female genitalia on screen. There has been much research and umpteen articles on how hardcore pornography degrades women. What about only female frontal nudity on television? Is it not doing the same? Why should only the female body be sexually objectified or commodified? Pretty or not, are we ever going to see some penis on screen? 

How about starting with Alexander Skarsgård then?

More reading for those interested: 
More male nudity: a short piece on how the penis trend ‘rises’ and falls
You’ve got male: Some reasons and a good compilation of on screen male nudity that had more than butt
Members Only: More on the debate of exactly why we don’t see as many penises 
Guys on film: ...and this chick says it’s because flaccid penises could look like a fur button 
Queer liberal: On how a penis is meant to make you laugh(?)


Shady said...

Super like . Funny and cynical like all your nicely written pieces.

JB said...

Thanks Shady... for reading and for leaving something for me to read. :)

Sree said...

because, agree you must, the male version was gods draft before that force created the female. He then made food, ithink.

Espèra said...

Well. They do show a bit of male nudity on some movies. Like Eurotrip. And Borat too, as you know.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever watched Spartacus??

Awesome show and no qualms full frontal male nudity in that :P

Came across this link today as well - thought it might be relevant to your post:


Cindy Dy said...

I enjoy most of your articles,the articles are so nice for readers.


Đồng Hà Văn said...

Great! thank your post.
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