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Susan Bordo

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Susan Bordo an author who writes about how the American culture has always shown and used women’s bodies throughout our history and to most is considered completely normal. In the print “Beauty Rediscovers the Male Body” Bordo states “naked female body became an object of mainstream consumption”(Bordo 168). She explains that the female body was completely normal for people to look at while on the other hand showing a naked male body was considered a taboo that most people were afraid to break. Over the history of time mainstream perceptions of masculinity have changed dramatically! Everything from ads, movies, fashion, character, and what is socially acceptable in todays world has changed since Bordo’s writings. When men started to show more of there bodies people reacted quite differently toward what was being showed. Men were not suppose to be viewed in a sexual manner unlike females. Although this seemed quite unusual at the time it was the start of something completely new that would change the world and how we view masculinity to this day.

Today mainstream perceptions of masculinity have changed completely. People use to think that guys could only do manly things, wear manly clothes, and act the way real men should. When men started to appear in there underwear, and show of there bodies in ads such as Calvin Kline, society looked the other way and thought this was completely obscure and should never be allowed. Bordo talks about the way that men would stare in ads and the poses they would be in and how they resembled the characteristics that of females. This was the first time in history where men started to look and act differently then society thought they should. Bordo states that she was intrigued by an ad because of the way a man is looking away and not directly at her. “At the same time, however, my gaze is invited by something “femi­nine” about the young man. He doesn’t stare at the viewer challengingly, bel­ ligerently, as do so many models in other ads for male underwear, facing off like a street tough passing a member of the rival gang on the street” (Bordo 170). Bordo explains how men would look away and not directly at the viewer thus inviting people to not feel afraid while looking at males body. Females were not use to viewing men as sexual objects.

The way they were being portrayed in ads by leaning against walls, pushing there hips out, and gazing away from the viewer seemed a taboo of there modern day society. This was not how men should act, and this took the world completely by surprise. Today being masculine or being a man is nothing like what it use to be. Men are not judged by what they wear, how they do there hair, or the things they like to do. Today masculinity is more judged on the basis of how you act not how you look. Being a man today is being confident in yourself and not caring about what others think. Doing the right thing not just because people are watching but because you know its right. Today men are allowed to think and act differently then they use too. Just because a man wears a pink shirt, or wants to look good in a nice suit doesn’t make him feminine.

Men today cook, clean, take care of the kids, buy groceries and aren’t looked at any differently or less masculine. Being masculine today is not about who looks the strongest or has the biggest muscles but who is mentally stronger and has the ability to be strong in the things they wish to peruse or overcome in life. Sometimes the strongest man is the one who can admit he is not the strongest. Not being afraid to admit being wrong or knowing when your wrong. Being smart, confident, brave, and secure is what makes a man and defines masculinity in todays world.

The taboos of mainstream advertising since Susan Bordos writing have completely vanished. Men use to only appear in ads that would show them in action doing things like mowing the lawn, painting a house, or playing sports. While women were to appear in advertisements showing off there beauty and skin for the world to see. Bordo explains that men would act while women would appear in ads. “Women in ads and movies thus require no plot excuse to show off their various body parts in ads, proudly, shyly, or seductively; it’s the “business” of all of us to be beautiful-whether we are actresses, politicians, homemakers, teachers, or rock stars” (Bordo 191). Taboos were put on men showing there bodies sexually or getting naked while the woman body was presumably perceived as a work of art. Today in the world of advertising taboos that use to exist seem completely normal. Both men and women are able to express themselves and show the world almost anything they want.

Almost every advertisement you see now a day is either a man in his underwear or a girl half naked trying to sell you something. The taboo of seeing naked men in advertisements is no longer a problem in the society we live in today. One main cause for such taboos to disappear in todays time is due to the media showing the world the things they see today. The naked human body is becoming somewhat of more normal and acceptable thing to see. Another huge reason why such taboos have disappeared in the advertisement world is because sex sells. According to Helen Mirren “Flesh sells. People don’t want to see pictures of churches. They want to see naked bodies” (Mirren). Seeing a naked person advertising a product gets the attention of the people. For example Carl’s Jr use to just advertise there hamburgers by showing just the burger and how good it looked. Now Karl’s Jr has attractive young girls that are basically naked eating there burgers.

After airing these commercials there sales went up more then twenty percent. Its what the world wants to see. Ads already exploit what there allowed to show and are getting away with more and more every year. Even just recently in 2013, the FCC “Federal Communications Commission” has allowed for more nudity on cable T.V. “Regulators are extending the comment period on a controversial proposal to ease restrictions on cursing and “nonsexual nudity” over public airwaves.” (Goad) Our future is slowing changing and soon I believe there will be no taboos at all in advertising. The United States of America will soon be like Europe and able to advertise and show nudity any place they want. Everything from, billboards, magazines, t.v., books, stores, food, and clothes will all have no restrictions on what they will be allowed to show when advertising.

In conclusion the mainstream perceptions of masculinity have changed. Bordo writes that men and masculinity were once defined as being someone who is strong, doesn’t care what he wears, or how he looks. Men should only act and do things that men do. Masculinity was seen by the way a man looked and the things he did. Since Bordos writing things have changed in the way we define men and masculinity. Men today are not defined by the way they look rather on the way they act. Masculinity in todays society is having confidence, and being mentally and physically strong. Being independent and able to survive on your own. Also giving respect and showing love toward the people you care for. Men today dress nice, smell good, take care of there bodies, do there hair, and even wear accessories like watches and chains. This doesn’t make them any less masculine. Men have changed throughout time and so have the rolls they take as well. Real men can take care of there kids, wash the dishes, make dinner, and still be considered the manliest person around. Being a man is not about how people look at you and judge you. Being a man is looking at yourself and knowing who you truly are and what you can do.

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