Over on FetLife, posting sexy pictures is a big deal. Perving all those pictures is the main draw of the site for many users. Posting them and having them appreciated can be a source of validation and exhibitionistic enjoyment for the creators. There’s even kind of popularity contest in the form of the “Kinky&Popular” page that showcases the most liked content. And almost all of the pics winning that popularity contest focus on women’s bodies. (They also lean heavily toward cis, white, young and thin, because of course they do.)
At the beginning of February, a fellow who goes by The_Danger_Mouse had the idea to organize support and encouragement for men to do more posting pictures of themselves for the enjoyment of the Internet masses. He calls it #FellasOfFetlife, and I’ve been watching the results with delight. My favorite part has been the writings from men who are realizing for the first time that being men does not exclude them from being sexy and desired.
Yes! It’s true! It’s always been true that roughly half the people on the planet find men sexy. The curious thing to think about is how so many men have been convinced to the contrary.
Guys: we are trained, from the cradle up, to make ourselves undesirable, and to punish people who show their desire for us.
The current vision of traditional masculinity is full of prohibitions against grooming, hygiene, style, grace, or even smiling too much. Sometimes those prohibitions are presented as women’s preferences: “Don’t be too pretty or no girls will like you.” You can plainly see mobs of women drooling over David Bowie, but the defenders of gender roles dismiss that as inauthentic or somehow cheating. Even undeniably masculine forms of prettying yourself up—sharp suits and styled beards—are often treated as trying too hard. A man isn’t supposed to try to be desirable.
If a man expresses desire for another man without being very careful who he’s dealing with, he’s apt to be met with violence. We say we’d love it if women pursued us the way we pursue them, but check the stories of sexually assertive women. I’ve heard over and over how they’ve had to learn to carefully soften their approach to avoid having men push them away and/or slut shame them.
Being desired requires that you accept being the object of someone else’s hunger. It requires vulnerability. Even being desired as a big bad D-type. That hungry s-type has an *agenda*, my friend. They have their own fantasies independent of yours, and they’re slotting you into them while they lick their lips.
Men are taught to refuse to be the object, to be invulnerable. We aren’t supposed to be attractive for others to put their desires onto. We’re supposed to be powerful and to put our desires on others. Cock shots are the perfect example. Flip through a bunch of them and see how many are aggressively unattractive pictures. It’s not that the cocks are unattractive; it’s the pictures. The lighting is horrible, the exposure is way off and the composition is brutal. The unsolicited way they are often used is often brutal as well. As a phenomenon, they don’t look like they’re intended to attract desire. They seem to be saying “You have to look at my dick because I want you to. Now say you like it or I might rage!”
Want to be desired? You can! You just have to step into vulnerability and offer yourself up for others to desire. Yes: that involves other people holding the power to decide whether they desire you or not. And yes that’s scary. It can be rewarding too, though. Do you have a persistent feeling of being unwanted and unwantable? Feel like you’re only valuable for your money, status and what you can do for people? Being willing to let people want you is a real way to change that.