Equality In Susan Bordo's Beauty (Re) Discovers The Male Body

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Equality is something that the vast majority of us strive for. It’s the lifeblood of U.S. democracy. A revolutionary Enlightenment ideal, it was written into the very DNA of our country with those powerful words, “all men are created equal.” Sadly, however, we as a society have yet to reach that ideal. Women, people of color, and members of other minority groups have yet to taste the sweetness of equality. In her piece, “Beauty (Re)discovers the Male Body,” Susan Bordo provides a compelling, yet flawed, account of the differences in the ways men and women are portrayed in popular culture and advertisements. She illustrates how men are rarely sexualized in the same fashion that women are. Her argument is persuasive and effective. But she errs …show more content…
It’s hypocritical for her to denounce studies that suggest a narrative different from her own but then fail to critique the legitimacy of any study that favors her view. The saddest part of the hypocrisy Bordo shows in her piece is that it is entirely unnecessary. She may very well be correct that cultural differences are predominantly responsible for the differences in frequency of arousal amongst men and women; her argument approaches sophism and turns the reader away from some of her claims. How can a reader fully trust a hypocrite? Her argument would be much more effective if she offered a more open-minded tone—it would make the reader believe that she is leaving no stone unturned when analyzing potential root causes of gender differences. Perhaps for die-hard members of a certain school of gender studies this dismissal of any sort of scientific basis in gender differences is well received, but for a broader audience a more open minded attitude would be preferable. She may very well be correct; cultural differences are likely responsible for the vast majority of gender differences, but her lack of receptiveness to any scientific study that opposes her claim is damaging to the legitimacy of her …show more content…
There are a plethora of studies beyond the aforementioned Kinsey study showing this. One such study, “Gender and sexual orientation differences in sexual response to sexual activities versus gender of actors in sexual films,” exposed both men and women to nude actors engaging in same-sex intercourse, masturbation, or nude exercise. The authors examined both genital and subjective sexual arousal of the participants. They found that the gender of the actors was more important for men than for women, but the level of sexual activity was more important for women than for men (Chivers, Seto, and Blanchard). This suggests that men are inherently more aroused by nudity than women, which is consistent with the Kinsey study. Yes, some of this difference likely stems from deeply ingrained cultural norms, but very real biological differences do exist between the two sexes, beyond just physical appearance. Hormone levels have a very real effect on the way the human mind works. That’s partially why Bordo’s argument that “perhaps too, heterosexual men could learn to be less uncomfortable offering themselves as sexual objects if they realized the pleasure women get from it” (197), is far from ideal.
Is the objectifying men really the optimal way to address the culturally created disparities in arousal? Is having “the male body offered to [women], handed to [them] on a silver platter” (197) truly a panacea? Most

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