Archive for the ‘Gender and sexuality’ Category

Annals of phallicity: symbol and simulacrum

August 22, 2019

(Warning: consider the subject; penises will be under discussion, so some will want to skip this posting.)

I’ll start with the logo of Herb’s Plumbing & Heating, 2562 Noble Rd., Cleveland OH:


(#1) Brawny man, a plumber, with a big wrench — the symbol of his trade, also (like wrenches in general) a phallic symbol, intensifying the masculinity of the image

This is garden-variety phallicity. But on Herb’s trucks, we get something more substantial: a phallic simulacrum, a representation of a penis (which is, however, also symbolically a wrench):

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News for penises: ocean edition

August 20, 2019

(Consider the title as a content warning.)

Widely reported: Chace Crawford’s monumental moose-knuckle in the calendar for the new tv series The Boys:


(#1) Dick and the Dolphins

From Yahoo! entertainment, “Chace Crawford’s superhero suit in ‘The Boys’ calendar has eyeballs popping: ‘This cannot be real, can it?'” by Suzy Byrne on 8/16/19:

Chace Crawford’s new role in The Boys has him giving fans an eyeful.

A promotional calendar for the Amazon Prime show was sent out to the press this week and March has sent the internet into a tizzy. Crawford, who plays Kevin/The Deep, is in his very tight superhero suit and it didn’t go unnoticed.

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Il Leopardo di Sparta

August 14, 2019

(About men’s bodies and fetishwear, so not to everyone’s taste.)

Today’s bulletin from the Daily Jocks company, introducing a new brand (Sparta’s) on their site, with the image below — to which I’ve added a caption in free verse:


(#1) Il Leopardo di Sparta

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Melon eaters of 1937

August 13, 2019

In the NYT on the 11th (in print on the 12th), the entire editorial page given over to an opinion piece by Brent Staples, “The Radical Blackness of Ebony Magazine: The publication was revolutionary for its depiction of middle-class African-American life”, in the middle of which comes an astonishing observation:

As a close student of Life [magazine], [Ebony founder John H.] Johnson would no doubt have seen the dehumanizing images of African-Americans that appeared in the infamous 1937 issue of the magazine whose cover caption read “Watermelons to Market.” The cover photograph showed an unnamed black man — shirtless and well muscled — sitting with his back to the camera atop a wagonload of melons [on a dirt road alongside a cotton field]. The inside photos offered what Ms. Greer describes as a hierarchy of watermelon eaters, with white bathing beauties at the top and pigs at the bottom; in between was an image of a black woman holding a slice of melon to her face with one hand and nursing a baby with the other. The equating of blackness with sub-humanity is unmistakable in the photographs. The photo caption drives home the point:

“Nothing makes a Negro’s mouth water like a luscious, fresh-picked melon,” it reads. “Any colored ‘mammy’ can hold a huge slice in one hand while holding her offspring in the other. … What melons the Negroes do not consume will find favor with the pigs.”

You will say that things have changed, and to some extent that’s true: these days you wouldn’t find such flat-out unthinking racism in a publication aimed at a large audience primarily of the middle class. But the attitudes and images lie just below the surface today, to bubble up in barely coded form for mass audiences (as well as in undiluted form on flagrantly white-nationalist sites).

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Annals of social learning

August 8, 2019

Two recent One Big Happy strips about the cartoon’s kids in the process of acquiring — internalizing, rehearsing, and displaying — two sociocultural complexes of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.

Ruthie is learning to fit into modern American commercial culture, where she is urged to judge products not on their intrinsic qualities (such as the taste and nutritional values of breakfast cereals) but on their symbolic associations as pushed in their marketing (cartoon characters as the representatives of breakfast cereals in commercials).

Meanwhile, Joe is learning normative masculinity in modern America, absorbing the lesson that successful manhood requires the stringent rejection of everything feminine — both anything associated with girls and also anything associated with the conventional role of the mother as taming boys, civilizing them.

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Briefly noted: the disavowal drill

August 4, 2019

In today’s NYT Magazine (in print), a Jason Parham comment “This is not a drill”, on a 7/21 (in print) piece by Claudia Rankine, the comment turned into a thumbnail illustration by Giacomo Gambineri:

The Magrittean disavowal Ceci n’est pas une perceuse ‘This is not a drill’ (referring to une perceuse, a device for making — piercing — holes in things), but playing on the English catchphrase This is not a drill, conveying  ‘This is the real thing, this is serious’.

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Two diversions

August 4, 2019

… provided by friends in a time of unspeakable violence, though neither is a totally unmixed pleasure: from Mike McKinley, the 1962 boys’ space adventure yarn Lost City of Uranus, just for the cheap but evergreen double entendre in its title; from Betsy Herrington, a link to the rainbow dreadhead stone lions of Monza, Italy, an admirable exercise in yarn bombing.

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Never go out without a speech balloon

August 2, 2019

That’s today’s advice from Zippy:

(#1)

Zippy is a long-time fan of speech balloons, their history, their uses, their attractions. In fact, speech balloons are a fairly frequent explicit theme in cartoons — cartoons about cartooning.

And then there’s the theme of things you shouldn’t go out without — from   a certain amount of cash or your identity papers, to makeup or condoms, to American Express products or (if you’re hitchhiking in space) a towel.

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Wary

July 27, 2019

(Underwear boys, so not to everyone’s tastes. But not especially raunchy.)

Young men in the, if you know what I mean, pink of life, advertising a Lucas Studios porn sale, with my caption:

Mindful of the
Neighborhood rash of
Bikini brief thefts,
Pongo was fearfully
Protective of
Bongo’s beloved
Magenta Silks

For a change, this is not about men’s bodies, pleasing though these are; nor about pink/purple men’s bikini briefs, though there’s a fabulous array of them on display on the net; but about facial expressions.

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The artist Tove Jansson

July 20, 2019

Appearing in my Facebook feed a couple of days ago, passed on by Joelle Stepien Bailard, this self-portrait of Swedish-speaking Finnish artist Tove Jansson:


(#1) Tove Jansson (1914-2001), Self-portrait in a fur hat (1941)

From my 10/19/14 posting “Tove Jansson tomorrow”:

Another multiple talent who doesn’t usually get pegged as Artist (without qualification), like many others I’ve written about on this blog (Edward Gorey, for instance). Charming but complex [Moomintroll] books for children (a favorite in our household when my daughter was young), among other things.

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