Nasty Sexy

By | April 7, 2008

Please consider Exhibit A on the left. A poster, T-Shirt and for all I know coffee mug and bumper sticker that has been doing the rounds for ages. I first saw the image in Viz the sort of magazine that you buy for a while then grow out of. It is hilariously funny in a base sort of way, but becomes a little repetitive. There are only so many times that a man with unfeasibly large testicles can be laughed at as he gets them stuck in a door, or two girls of nonexistent morals can be screwed over the front of taxi in lieu of payment for the fare home from the pub.

The point is that the image is funny, while at the same time being acutely un-PC and in terribly bad taste. Humour is funny like that isn’t it, if you discount the clever wordplay and carefully crafted irony of quips from such masters as Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde you’re left with jokes that play on the stereotypes and partiality that we all have to a greater or lesser extent about other members of the societies in which we live.

That is a huge subject and one which I’m not going to debate here, unless you want to? But what I will say is that despite the fact that the image above always raises a smile when I see it I also feel very uncomfortable about the way in which it asserts that sexuality is the province of the beautiful people. Whoever they are.

I don’t count myself as good looking. I’m not a hunk, and I have a few bits of my personality that can be abrasive. Suze is way out of my league in the looks department, and I regard it as the greatest piece of luck on my part that we’re together.

Perceptions of beauty have changed over time, the waif-like figure apparently desired by so many women today has replaced the fuller figure of the women of the 1950s and 40s. A century before that the beauty of a curvaceous woman was celebrated in art and literature.

The fact is that beauty is subjective and where the eyebrow-less La Gioconda looks strange to us today it is apparently simply a reflection of the fact that at the time Leonardo painted the picture a large forehead was equated to beauty. Without eyebrows your forehead looks bigger.

The real truth is that we’re all beautiful in our own ways, regardless of outward appearance. Something for which I will be eternally grateful. We only need alcohol to break down a few barriers that our social strictures and inhibitions impose on us, not to make us so insensible that we could screw a dining chair and mistake it for Sophia Lauren.

Perhaps one day we’ll all realise that women on the whole are naturally curvy, that we don’t all have perfect skin, that eventually a man’s hair will fall out and we all get the odd grey strand.