November 30, 2015

The Naked Male Form

Well. Now that I have your attention.

Romance writers share. We share a *lot*. We share common things. We share…intimate things. We share funny things. We share favorite books and favorite tropes and favorite characters and favorite men. And ladies too. But really, men. A bunch of years ago, when I helped coordinate the #ManCandyMonday hour (every Monday at 9 PM on Twitter) and its coordinating blog (now retired), we shared the menfolk images. Boy. Howdy. (This was back before MCM became “A Thing” and everyone and their BFF decided to run a ManCandy blog/meme. It’s tough being a trendsetter, I’ll tell ya. [Kidding. A little.])

Handsome Is
Yup. It surely is.

One of the best shares I had in recent weeks was to the Tumblr page, Handsome Is, a site that features photos of men–athletes, models, and others–in both candid and posed pictures and even selfies the subject has posted himself.


It’s a visual feast, I promise you. And given, as I’ve mentioned before, that I’m visually oriented…I pigged out.

Recently, I had the need to scroll through nearly a year’s worth of Handsome Is posts to locate the hero inspiration for my Sekrit Project, but I womaned up and took one for the proverbial team. Oh how I suffer for my art.

nekkid ibiza
Cheeky wave. From Dylan Rosser’s Facebook page. Click image to go to site.

Handsome Is is quite NSFW even though it doesn’t reveal the whole hog, as it were, (or at least not as far as I’ve seen), less so the photography of Dylan Rosser, though surreptitiously place stickers keep the goods from public view. This was another romance writer share, this time in my FB feed, that inspired a click-through to Rosser’s Kickstarter campaign (already fully funded and then some) for his upcoming photography book Naked Ibiza. (There’s a seriously NSFW Vimeo trailer on that link, so proceed with caution.)

Faced with all those manly (sometimes hairy), well-defined chests and abs and shoulders and Adonis Belts (Strewth!), I found it mildly unusual to peruse the pictures without feeling like it (the site, not the perusing) skirted the edge of pervy. Like with woman photography, male photography is as capable of skimming that fine line between admiration/celebration and exploitation. But both the Handsome Is Tumblr site and Dylan Rosser’s photography do something that still, to this day, is relatively uncommon (particularly in relation to its female counterpart): celebrate the naked male form.

Photographer Michael Stokes takes that concept and advances it to celebrate the “damaged” male form. Along with his other male photography, Stokes celebrates the naked (or nearly so) soldiers who have lost limbs or have other permanent physical injuries earned during their service. Their physical losses are so far from being a weakness, it doesn’t even bear association, their appearances instead a testament to their inner resilience, feats of strength many whole-bodied men (and women) could never dream to achieve. Stokes’ Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for both books was fully funded in an hour and a half.

Supply meet Demand.

Michael Stokes’ Always Loyal collection of Gulf War veterans (male and female) photographs is now available.

Always Loyal
Holy cats. Click image to buy. Great holiday gift!

I’m a fan of director/photographer TJ Scott‘s work too, particular his In the Tub series (proceeds of which benefit Breast Cancer Research in honor of his mother’s repeated struggle with the same) of male and female celebrities photographed naked in a tub in unique ways. His use of light and shadow particularly create often ethereal images celebrating beauty in intimate spaces.

kris in the tub 2
From TJ Scott’s upcoming In the Tub Vol 2. Volume 1 is now available. Click image to buy.

Not for the first time, I’m struck by how it’s still somewhat unusual to have professional photographers who focus on the naked male form. Our society continues to place more emphasis on naked women than men. Whether this is a (morally) good or bad thing and whatever your sexual politics, it’s yet far more common to see a naked female breast on TV and film that an unveiled penis and even then there’s some Greater Purpose or Reason than the mere titillation for which female nudity is usually employed. (For more on than, read my A Penis on TV post regarding that magical unicorn that keeps on giving, Outlander.) Even the Magic Mike “phenomenon” was treated dramatically different than, say, Striptease or Showgirls.

I know, I know, I’m revisiting a theme here…but it’s a *good* theme.

Romance writers share a lot of goodness both to each other and to others through their stories. We want to celebrate male and female beauty, the resilience and endurance of love and relationships, and the fact that every woman has the right to be the hero of her own story…and find her hero counterpart along the way.

After all, sharing is caring.

Follow Lady Smut. We share all sorts of good things.

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1 comment

  • Post authorMadeline Iva

    There’s arty stuff, and I don’t feel like that’s exploitative porn, and there’s michael stokes —which given his use of people missing limbs contrasted with their strength, beauty, hotness, and form etc, is–I believe–activist work of a kind. And then there’s that other stuff.

    The guy with his legs spread, something covering his junk. The hot man staring in absorbed concentration at his sensual glory — and yeah, I think these kind of photos are serving one purpose and one purpose only–which is to cause our lady parts to tingle.

    I mean, I do feel that kind of thing is exploitative. Which in my mind is different from celebrating. Ya know? Perhaps it’s a thin line.

    I feel okay about it if we’re saying ‘yay men’ of all types, sizes, shapes, colors, and ages. Then it’s cool. But if it’s always the perfect six pack, and white white white and in these set stock poses, then yeah, I think we’re doing something more akin to hustler or playboy, we’re looking at men as consumable sexual objects that come in a standardized physical ideal, and then I don’t feel so good about myself.

    But anything arty? Anything that you could hang up in a student art gallery in college–like the bathtub shot you’ve got? That’s what I call lady porn, and I think it’s about calling up emotions, moods, and feelings, not just going for a straight za-zang feeling to the crotch. So to me it’s different. 🙂

    Reply to Madeline Iva

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