Filament Review - The Nudey Pics! and My Defense of Objectification

Okay, here is the second installment of my Filament review, and this time it ain't about the articles...it's about the nudey pics (in case you didn't quite get what I was gettin at). I'd like to talk a little about the general state of male nudes in our culture and how torn I am about craving bodily perfection in them while advocating a wider definition of beauty in female nudes, but we'll get to that later. Let me first tell you about what we got in this magazine here.

The one article I didn't discuss in the first blog is an interview with Vivienne Maricevic, who is one of very few women artists that work in male nudes. She began in 1975, and the interview was a good discussion of her method and her motives. The article was also surrounded by several of her images, and I thought some were among the best in the magazine. I think part of this is that I found the men - their faces, bodies, hair - attractive. Check some here and  here. These happen to be two I liked, but of course, you are only seeing from the waist up on these pics.... A couple of her pics seemed a little cheesy to me like the dude with a huge bush (the penis kind of bush) standing kind of in a giant bush (the leafy kind of bush), holding onto some limbs. However, I did happen to find that bushy guy fairly hot regardless.

So as for the actual Filament pictorials, I really liked "The Beautiful and Damned" with model Joe. They were soft, low-contrast, (forgive me for using this description) artsy, B&W picks of a thin youngish looking man with no tattoos and a bit of muscle definition. You can check him out here, although you will not be able to see his nice sized, partially erect and hairless penis without getting the magazine. I also liked the slightly sepia photos of Tristram Woolf (relative to Virginia Woolf). Check one out here, although the one they have on the site is my least favorite because he looks so incredibly skinny in it. His waist looks so tiny. His pics (in the magazine, not on the site) also give us a nice peek at his erect but not shaven man junk (I'm sorry, but I just love calling genitals junk: man junk, lady junk - I don't know, but I can't get enough of it, so please forgive me). I like his face and although a bit skinny, his body has some tone, and his poses are relaxed - kind of like we are watching a slow, sensual masturbation session. The background for these pics was fine, but there was something about them that seemed kinda cheap to me. It was like someone just threw a white sheet on a tan bed and took some pics, which is probably what happened, but it just brought to mind student photography to me. I saw a shitload of student photography while Charlie was in school for none other than Fine Arts Photography, so I'm not just pulling that out of nowhere, but I'm sure plenty of other people wouldn't have the same reaction to it. All in all, though, I think it's a pretty nice sexy package.

The more burlesque-ish pictorial of Alex Longmore just beginning to undress
is also nice. Check it 1,2 - here and here. I kinda have a thing for suits and stubble (not actually on a man I'm kissing - a little too rough for me, but just in pictures), so these were sexy to me. I enjoyed the sexual chemistry that was occurring between him and the off-camera woman, and the tease. There were was no nudity other than a shirt open and in the last picture, he was laying with his head on the lady's lap, shirt and fly open, with her hand reaching down his pants. We didn't see anything but a slightly hairy chest and the top of his pelvic region, but it was enticing. The downside of these pics was the actual quality of the pics. There were places in some of the pics that were really soft for seemingly no reason and in the 2nd one I linked to, there is a kind of double nose thing going on - which maybe was intentional, but I don't really dig it. Maybe these things aren't too noticeable to most people. Honestly, I didn't notice it until Charlie pointed them out, and then I couldn't not notice. However I think these pics would have been even better if they had a cleaner quality.

There were 2 picture sets I didn't love as much. The first was a guy that just wasn't attractive to me and the pics wreaked of mediocre Photoshop-ing. No pics from this photo set made it onto the Filament website, so I'm just gonna have to be descriptive. I'll be the first to say that just because he wasn't attractive to me, doesn't mean he isn't attractive to other people. He had sort of a subculture hot thing going for him - and it just wasn't hot to me. He's kinda a niche market. He was a white guy with straight reddish brown hair hanging a little past his shoulders, one arm tattoo, possibly a little eye liner, a faint little mustache, a tuft of reddish hair on the tip of his chin, and a cross necklace. In the first pic he was wearing a black fedora, a black suit, and a black shirt. He moves to just the suit coat and pants, then there is a two-page spread of 4 not so perfectly Photoshopped cut-outs of him on his knees in just his pants, fly open, with his erect penis sticking out. His posing seemed a little awkward, but I like the idea of man junk (oh yea - I'm gonna keep using it) sticking out of an open fly - and the ol' junk looked good. I just am not into his look at all. He was thin, but he didn't have any muscle definition, so his body wasn't doing it for me. His kinda light gothy style I have never been into, and, I have to say, I was not into the facial hair. I'm just guessing, but I bet that a lot of the pictures submitted to Filament have a kinda niche subculture style to them - some goth, some BDSM, some heavy punk, some druidish fantasy kinda stuff. I don't know, I just have a feeling the men and women within these subcultures are a little more open to this woman shooting man concept. I could be wrong, but I bet Filament has seen a disproportionately high number of pictures with men wearing heavy eyeliner, leather, or fangs.

The other picture set I wasn't into was actually kind of cool, but I didn't find it erotic. Check one out here. For starters, the picture quality was solid, and they had a nice old look to them that I liked. They began with a man in a tux and a flapper, seemingly on a date, being sexy toward each other, then kissing, and then the clothes start to come off. It goes well with the 20's theme of this issue, but it's got a twist. We notice that the woman seems a little flat and big in the shoulders and uh-oh, the dude seems to have breasts. You got it. Genders were switched for this shoot. The male is hairless, thin, maybe has a little muscle definition but wasn't photographed to show it and has heavy make-up and wig on on. The female has a tattoo, a nice fit body (at least the upper part we see) with perky boobs, cute plain face, and a fade. Shirts get unbuttoned, garters pulled off, more kissing, and touching. Now that I'm taking a closer look, I realize that there is some flaccid penis in the last pic of this shoot, but it's in the shadows. It's a fun idea. The poses, kisses, touches in these pics are sensual, but I guess I just was hoping to see a male body and face that has a certain classic male sexiness to me, and that just doesn't happen in this shoot. I found the female more sexy than the male in this, but that wasn't why I wanted to look at pics in this magazine. I could find picks of a sexy tough lady, shot through the female gaze, anytime. It's the male body that I am looking to this magazine for.

This brings me to the larger issue of imagery in this magazine. There were some that I found lovely and erotic, but generally, the pictorials were a mixed bag for me. I know that the quality and variety of their male nudes are something they think about and work to improve with every issue. They discuss it in their magazine and on their site often. They say if you don't like what you see it's because you're not photographing the things you like and submitting them. Basically, they need more women photographers to submit work. There's just not a lot of interesting male nudes out there. Female nudes, and interesting ones even, are kind of a dime a dozen. However, males eroticized through the female gaze is hard to find. There are pictures of men catering to gay men out there, but as Filament say in their FAQ:

So you're saying that women and gay men don't like the same photography?
No, we're saying that getting photography from the gay market and repackaging it for women is a strange way to try and cater to women. So we don't do that.

So, they are trying to legitimately create a venue for women to explore the male body. They are not compromising on that, and I really appreciate that. I think the photos will just continue to improve in quality and diversity as the magazine grows and more women realize that there is a market for male nudes.

Now this brings up another subject. Like I said in the beginning of this blog, I'm torn. I crave an almost perfect male body while I advocate opening up beauty standards for women. It could be argued that I'm a pig, and I advocate forcing men into the same beauty hell that women exist in. In fact I think this is the mentality of a lot of women, especially progressive, interesting women and women who take photos of nude men...and I worry a bit about that. I worry that women are being too nice, that we are treating as we would like to be treated, instead of coming from a place of pure selfish desire. I feel a little like an asshole saying that women acting out the Golden Rule is a bad thing, but I have to wonder how this nice-ness plays out in the culture at large.

I mean, male bodies getting away with more imperfection than women's bodies is not exactly progressive. It's the same old, same old. Compared to female nudes created by men (and probably female nudes created by women) there simply are not a lot of male nudes, created by women, out there. The realm of objectifying men, of judging their appearance and displaying them vulnerably, has simply not seemed available to us. That there is a magazine like Filament that is seriously and thoughtfully giving that realm a forum - that is progressive. However, I think that we ladies continue to feel as though we don't have the right to really objectify men - not the way women are objectified. Among the few female gaze photos of men out there, you will find they take some pain to include more "average men" and a variety of ages.

Now, I know that objectify is like the worst worst word ever, and people get absolutely livid at the thought of objectifying women, but I don't find the simple act of objectifying someone objectionable. I think being both the subjective party (desiring, looking, being pleasured) and being the objectified party (being desired, being looked at, pleasuring another) are two parts of a healthy sexuality. I think the distasteful feelings surrounding the objectification of women is that there is so much of it and so little of women being the subjective party or men being the objectified party. It gets a little fucking old and annoying.

I think the answer, though,  is not that we need to stop objectifying women. The answer, I believe, is that we need to have a balanced expression of objectification and subjectification for both males and females. To do that, I think we need to objectify men more. Yeah - I said it. We need to start from our unfiltered desire and expectations of pleasure and just objectify. The result may be that we create a culture of excessive objectification for both sexes and gain little in regards to beauty standard inclusion and empathy. But, it might also be that we even the playing field and give men and women a chance to see the world from each others perspectives.  If an acceptable option for doing the objectifying opens up for females in our culture, I couldn't imagine how the objectification of women and girls would increase much more than it already is. Maybe some men may really enjoy being the object of desire the way some women really enjoy it. Maybe, with more available and acceptable options open for expressing one's sexuality, a person has a better chance of expressing her sexuality in a way that is unforced and satisfying. Maybe, when both males and females feel the pressure of objectification, we will both have a vested interest in opening the standards of beauty.

So, what I'm saying is, I want the standards of beauty to open up and I want to curb the severe and unbalanced objectification of women and girls in our culture, but I'm not sure we're going to get there by photographing doughy, ill shaped, imperfect men. I think Filament is on the right track, I just worry that women who are taking pictures of men feel too mean or selfish if they are non-inclusive about their models. I say make em as hot as you can get em - cause I think it's gonna be good in the long run, I like lookin' at it and I don't care who knows.


  1. Not sure if I grasp where you're going, but wouldn't it be better to open up beauty standards for both genders?

    1. As always, I'm late reading this. I re-read this post, and it's pretty clunky, so I'd like to write something better - more clear. It's on my blog idea list, and I'll link here when it's done. Thanks for commenting. This is actually a subject I think is pretty interesting, and I'd like to hear what other people think.
      All the best to you,