The Penis Stays in the Picture

Let’s start by apologizing for how long we were down; our webhost has been having multiple problems and kept us out of contact for most of the last week. We’ve missed the connectivity a lot, and hope you haven’t missed the blog too much!


Lori Selke pointed out this article (which she found on Brutal Women) about a print of a male nude being removed from a London gallery window due to protests by “more than 30 men.” According to the article, “some said the picture would upset women, others said it was pornographic.”

Although it’s a bit hard to see that there really is a visible penis in the small picture,

Male Nude No. 15

it’s a bit easier to see in this larger version, and is probably quite clear in the full size print, which is more than three feet high.

So what’s the issue? Yes, some women (as well as some men) are afraid of penises–sometimes with very good reasons. Sometimes that fear extends to images of penises; we certainly know people who won’t open Familiar Men. But in this case, especially with the way the complaints are described, that doesn’t sound like the issue; instead, it wouuld appear that these men may be displacing their own sense of being threatened onto women. Our guess is that part of the issue is what Familiar Men model Jonathan D. Katz gives in the piece he wrote for the book:

“Power is based on the projection of power, and real male bodies unerringly repudiate that projection. … To see a penis is to know that it couldn’t possibly be a phallus. If male power is premised on the cloaking of the male body, then it is to its uncloaking that we must turn for our collective liberation.”

Without a doubt, this isn’t the only issue bothering the men who complained. Penises in public space are highly charged. What other things do you think might be going on?

Meanwhile, it seems that photographs like this one

Karl on couch

won’t be making the London gallery scene any time soon, or at least not the front windows. Leaving aside our own desires to see this work showcased, it’s just sad that any part of the human body (or the bodies of half the human race) should be considered cause for alarm.

<br /> <a href="" rel="tag nofollow">Art</a><br /> <a href="" rel="tag nofollow">Masculinity</a><br /> <a href="" rel="tag nofollow">Male Nudes</a><br /> <a href="" rel="tag nofollow">Penis</a><br /> <a href="" rel="tag nofollow">Censorship</a><br /> <a href="" rel="tag nofollow">Feminism</a><br />

3 thoughts on “The Penis Stays in the Picture

  1. As anyone who seen our book cover for “Familiar Men” knows it is PG.

    You can’t have a penis on a book cover if you want on view in regular bookstores. It was really hard for us to figure out photos that would represent the variety of men in the book and still have bookstore acceptable cover images.

    In the case of the bottom photograph of Jonthan Segel playing the violin, we used the aesthetics of the cover edge to do as little cropping.

    We’re happy with the cover but we would have loved not to have to limit our choices so much.

  2. Well this is outrageous. Everywhere the female body is being exposed. Either be on billboards or in movies. Yet, showing male nudity is an offense, this is a double-standard. Comparing Europe and America, one is more open to nubity than the other. America is so exposed to violence, that it doesn’t really effect us. When you see something on television, like a baby found dead in the car because of heat exhaustion becomes a joke to most americans. Or a shooting in a bank could be taken the same way. Plus, movies have graphic violence of squirting blood or sawing off your own foot and possessed children. Yet, showing nudity is wrong. Thats ridiculous. Male nudity should be shown just as much as women and be put under a category of N for nudity. So those who choose to keep they’re kids under chains and surveilance can do so. I don’t agree with that but this world is freedom of choice as long as you don’t hurt those around you. It shouldn’t matter what the picture is of, as much as what it represents.

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