I’ve always found it fascinating that women–who examine each other from head-to-toe without mercy–are also comfortable saying, “Oh, she’s gorgeous.” They can appreciate their beauty without shame. But it’s rare to hear men say, “Damn, that guy is a stud, what beautiful lips.” Unless of course it’s done with a wink and a nudge and one-liner. It’s not that you’ll never hear men appreciating each other, but it’s not common and you certainly don’t see many straight men at ease with it. We’ll say, “That dude is ripped,” admiringly about an athlete but that’s usually as close as most guys get to overt appreciation of male beauty.
Which is funny because we spend a disproportionate amount of time oogling men’s bodies. There is an undercurrent of homoeroticism at play in our sports lust, which doesn’t necessarily mean that straight men are privately Gay. But let’s face it, athletes are sex symbols, or at least sex objects (which is why “Bull Durham” was so good; it wasn’t just a decent baseball movie, it was a funny sex comedy). And if our attraction to them isn’t literal in a sexual way, we are drawn to their confidence, to the beauty of their physical abilities.
So at the risk of making you dudes uncomfortable, here is some male eye candy for the ladies, and some men, to dig. From Bruce Weber, whose favorite subject was, of course: men.
The day is starting out well! A fine specimen. I have no trouble objectifying men from time to time. Beauty, whether in the form of a landscape, a gorgeous woman, or in this case, a perfectly proportioned male can be so uplifting.
Alex, I admire your honesty and authenticity. It's something to tackle men's attitudes on a primarily sports blog. By the way, women, while being open to appreciating the beauty of their own kind can also be the first to cut them down. We're complicated.
Bruce Weber did a completely marvelous Chet Baker documentary in the early 90's (or so) just before Chet died. Haunting and wonderful. It is called Let's Get Lost.
There are two soundtracks to the movie. The one that you find most commonly isn't very good. But there is another (very hard to find) soundtrack that is one of my favorite albums. It has this bleak version of Every Time We Say Goodbye that just kills me.
And, yeah, I'm man enough to say that that dude is beautiful. No winks or nudges.
I don't see anything wrong with that. If my body were sculpted in that manner, I'd be more prone to show it off, but I've realized over time that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
That said, I think there is a lot of it has to do with peer pressure (dude, don't you think that's a little fruity?), sexual tension/repression (religious and otherwise) and confusion over gender roles in modern culture. (Dammit, Blackberry! How dare you obfuscate my ability to interact with my intelligent cohorts on serious themes on my favorite site, I can't stand you!) I'll return to this subject later if it stirs up more interest...
Remember how giggly America got over Jim Palmer's Jockey underwear ads in the 70s?
Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye is one of those songs with weep potential. Such a beautiful ballad. What was Cole thinking?
and i'm a sucker for minor key.
I'll tell you who is an attractive man; Gorge Will.
 Make that George Will. It's a Seinfeld quote fwiw.
"By the way, women, while being open to appreciating the beauty of their own kind can also be the first to cut them down. We’re complicated."
Oh hell yeah. I always know a woman has been checking me out if I look and and see that she's just looking away. But women are like men when they look at each other. Eye ballin! Hilarious.
"Let's Get Lost" is seriously disturbing but aesthetically beautiful. Never heard that second soundtrack. Sounds great.
3) Yeah, I remember being in a car with Spanish friend of mine in college and dude was seriously handsome, the kind of guy who'd be on a vacation in Mexico poster diving off a cliff. I had the urge to tell him and then thought better of it. He just wasn't the kind of dude who would take it the right way. LOL
I'm glad you brought this up. Interesting stuff.
I also find it an interesting subject.
Alex, I remember a comment you made about how ARod looked in the locker room (I think it was a SI article). I was impressed that you could make that kind of a comment in that forum without the wink and nudge. I've always felt that some of the problems ARod had with the media were due to some reporters' discomfort with his looks.
One thing I've noticed with respect to the arty shot of women vs. men. Shots of men tend to be the whole body, whereas the women might just be an ass or a leg, something curvy. I think in some circles, this is where the objectifying comes into play - cutting up the body, depersonalizing it, if that's even a word.
me myself personally, I dig all the pictures that've been up lately, food, ladies, men, Mo.
The intersection of sports and male sexuality is interesting. Commentators have no problem talking about draft prospects physical attributes ("He's got great thighs", etc etc) that in non-sports conversations would raise eyebrows. Interesting timing now with the news about Roger McDowell..I always liked him, hope those reports are not accurate..sad there is still so much homophobia in sports.
 Any and every shot of Mariano is worth nothing less than complete and total devotion. We bow down before our gods. :)
Paging Dr Freud.
I don't know, I don't find anything about a dude to be even on the same planet as a woman. Women have so much more to offer in that department than men. For example, they can be beautiful, maternal, mysterious, sensual, comforting, curvy, and all around pleasant to look at. I don't get any of those feelings with a guy. Yeah, I can say a guy is "diesel", "ripped" or "not ugly" but it doesn't offer anywhere near the same attributes as a woman.
I'm not religious at all, but I'm glad God spent all his time making women be all those things than the 30 seconds he spent on men. We (men) are primitive creatures, a women is way more evolved and keeps getting better over time.
11) Well, with Alex it's that he's hot and knows it, or is aware of it in the way you might think a female model is. I've seen him in the locker room and he's got that self awareness like, "I know you are staring at me." And it is hard not to. He's very attractive and a huge guy.
But I think the writers also don't like him because he's just a pain in the ass to them too.
11) Interesting. Problem with fuller body shots of women is that it's hard to find good ones that don't expose too much, which is why I've tried to go for the body parts. But will include more faces too, cause what is more beautiful that a face?
I wasn't saying it was the whole problem - just a part of the problem with some writers. Just my theory, obviously.
I think the point is that men are uncomfortable talking objectively about another man's looks - feelings don't have anything to do with it. As Alex stated, women can make comments that another woman is hot, without feeling personally attracted to her. Men generally won't make those sorts of comments, and if they do, they have to couch it with awkward, homophobic disclaimers.
With women, we objectify beauty. With men, we objectify strength. Beauty is simply appealing, but strength has utility. I think that's why men have no problem discussing it, especially within a sports context. Whether it's right or wrong, there's a huge difference between discussing another man's biceps versus his eyes, lips, etc.
19, 16 - I agree with you both. And it's simply fascinating the ways that homoeroticism and homophobia coexist in sports. There are certain types of interactions and expressions of affection between men that are only acceptable on a playing field. In some ways, the boundaries of expressing affection between men are relaxed for teammates. But still, there are lines that can't be crossed.
"The rose goes in the front, big guy."
21) I was totally thinking of that!
20) great point. There is a lot of physical comfort that men in sports have with each other, even affection. I remember one time when Posada was hitting against the Rangers. He got a some dust in his eye. Pudge Rodriguez was catching. He took of his mask, leaned over to Jorge, opened Jorge's eye and blew the dust out. It was almost delicate. But a nice gesture in the heat of manly competition.
 It's not just sports...we see such behavior in all kinds of competition and conflict. Consider the bonds between men who have served in military campaigns. When you hear them speak, you almost can't imagine a more affectionate relationship being possible. Because athletics is kind of our modern extension of the military, it's only natural that some of the same feelings would translate.
There really is a thin line between most emotions, so I don't think there is much contradiction. Rather, it seems as if men are just more concerned about walking the tightrope.
 "But will include more faces too, cause what is more beautiful that a face?"
Yep. And a lovely smile is the cherry on top.
To be honest Alex, given what you said to the Pitchers and Poets guys on their podcast, every time beauty pics come up, I can't help but think of your "turn on site" line. Cracks me up just thinking about it.
25) But it's so true. Funny but true. I think the whole thing is about turning people on. That's the reason d'etre of a blog, at least this one. I find something, here check it out--food, writing, art, music. That's what it's all about.
 I think that the increased physical comfort and affection may in itself also be a cause of the high levels of homophobia in male teams sports. Because there's so much touching, it has to be unthinkable that anyone is gay. In the real world, without such rigidly enforced heterosexuality, men are more careful with their words and actions in order to avoid having someone think they're gay. In an atmosphere where it's "unthinkable" (I know it's not, really, but that's how it's perceived) for an athlete to be gay, they don't have to be quite so careful about touching another man.
Whatever protestations there may be I think there is a physical attraction between men and the men they watch play sports.
That doesn't mean it's sexual in nature but I just think part of admiring someone as they go about a physical task is how they do it, and as such there's an aesthetic value that goes into it.
It's not the same way a heterosexual woman would look at a man, but I would still classify it as an attraction of sorts.
 I guess you've never seen Bartolo Colon pitch before?
 Yes, and its one of the reasons I appreciate the Banter so much. I learn so many things here - we all do. You don't get that in many places.
That "turn on site" ends up being a completely true double entendre only makes it funnier. =)
The Banter - Va Va VOOM!