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Feelin' Pervy: GQ's "Pantless Saturdays"

As someone who is not only the world's biggest fan of Arrested Development (seriously, try me) but who has also dreamed of going on a date with Jason Schwartzman since his Rushmore and Phantom Planet days, I am struggling with this photo:

The male leads in the upcoming Scott Pilgrim vs. the World—Jason Schwartzman, Michael Cera, and Chris Evans—appear pantless in a fashion spread in this month's GQ. While the concept behind the shoot (that it's hot in the summer and therefore we should go without pants on Saturdays) could be clever, the above photo is clear and present street harassment. Also, why are the women wearing pants if it's Pantless Saturday? I guess that particular choice is reserved only for the "gentlemen" of Gentleman's Quarterly?

To be fair, a few of the other photos in the spread are pretty funny (because, hey, doing everyday stuff that does not involve harassing women without pants on is kinda funny). In the photo to the right, Schwartzman and Cera are shopping at Prada and Ralph Lauren whilst "Porky-Pigging it" (a new verb I just learned that means letting your junk hang out—gross, yes, but oh-so-fitting). That's clever, because those stores are known for being "classy" and going pantless is known for being "not classy." Irreverence. Wackiness. Check and check.

The remaining photos in the spread depict similar quotidian activities made funny by the absence of pants/underwear. (BTW, why is no underwear allowed on Pantless Saturdays? so many questions...) Chris Evans rides the subway, Michael Cera does tricks on a bicycle, and Jason Schwartzman does a little Tai Chi. Not sure these nudie shots are effectively selling clothes, per se, but they are getting the humor of Pantless Saturdays across.

The first pic, however, is not funny for the same reason. Street harassment is a real problem, and street harassment that involves flashing is a real problem as well. Turning it into a joke-y fashion spread (and make no mistake that this is a fashion spread—Schwartzman's jacket in that photo retails for $1,972) just encourages readers to laugh at a serious issue. Would we be expected to crack up similarly if the men in the shot weren't such safe-seeming, "aw shucks" white guys? Probably not, because if the models shown more closely matched our idea of what a "dangerous" guy looks like (older, scruffier, darker, uglier) the skeeviness of the scene would become that much more apparent and that much less hilarious.

So, even though there's a part of me that still wants to go on a date with Jason Schwartzman (the Max Fischer version, not this pantless one) I'd say that this photo belongs in a Hollaback photo spread, not in one for GQ. Your thoughts?

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Comments

35 comments have been made. Post a comment.

perhaps...

"(BTW, why is no underwear allowed on Pantless Saturdays? so many questions...)"

Perhaps it's pants-less by all definitions including British.

And really this goes to show how much street harassment sucks because there is nothing inherently threatening about nudity and then some creep twists it into a power play. Trolls ruin everything.

Damn it

You know, if that first picture just didn't include those two women, the whole spread would be fine. A little strange, yes, (if the point of Pantsless Saturdays is because it's hot, why wear sweaters?) but ultimately fine. Harassing women is funny, though, and that's all there is to it. Even my first impulse (I'm not proud of this) was to snicker. I had to sit back and LOOK at it before I realized how fucked up it actually was.

Not funny, you mean?

Xeginy,

I'm assuming you meant to say that "Harassing women is NOT funny," yes? If so, then I agree. And I also agree that this spread would have been funny if the harassment wasn't there. I hate when stuff like this happens!

Kelsey Wallace, Web Editor

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Um...

No, no, I meant "harassing women is funny." What I meant by that is that harassing women is funny in popular culture; in comedy movies, especially, harassing women is seen as entertainment. That's why this particular spread is laid out the way it is - it's funny. (I don't think it's funny, just to clarify. It's supposed to be funny.) That was the purpose of whoever designed it; they thought it would be funny. It would get a quick laugh out of whoever saw it before they turned to the next page. The harassment, combined with the pantslessness, would be memorable and witty for the reader.

That's what I hate so much about this. The editor (or whoever designed this) was trying to be funny, and according to popular culture's scripts of funniness, they succeeded. Especially since the three actors in the spread are known for their comedic roles. I mean, look at Jason Schwartzman's pose - he's standing up on the bench, exposing himself as much as he possibly can, while the other two men are sitting casually. I think it's disgusting, Bitch thinks it's disgusting, many feminists think it's disgusting - but GQ thinks it's funny, and the majority of their audience probably agrees.

There are many things our culture sees as comedic - slapstick comedy is pretty big, ironic humor, situational humor, observational humor...and within all of those styles is harassing women. Yelling at them on the street and incessantly feeding them lines in bars (while the chosen woman is obviously not interested, that's where the comedy comes from) are going to be situations that are present in COMEDIES, not horrors or thrillers about stalkers. Women - and women's bodies - are just one more "thing" that the culture can get a quick guffaw from.

What's Underneath All Those Pixels?

Are they wearing underwear under those pixels, and if so what kind is it? Different kinds of underwear are seem funnier to different people, but i can't tell if they are wearing any or are naked under there. The method by which people wind up without their pants can be funny too (getting pantsed, forgetting them, etc..) Would GQ have advertised the boxers, jockstraps, briefs (or panties) if the guys were wearing them? In the photo the women look amused, but i don't go for the guy-poses in the first photo myself. The second photo is funnier but seems more normal what with the Jamaica Underwear Run, No Pants Day, the No Pants Subway Ride etc.. i love it when there are no pants underwear photos in the news. i understand that in Britain pants means underpants. Do you think maybe that's where some confusion comes in?

almost missed it

I almost did not see the guys on the bench haha. thats a little disturbing in my opinion.

Do I Have to Squint to See it?

Harassment? Sorry I don't see it. They're checking out these girls, clearly, but I see no grabbing, as far as we can tell they aren't shouting obscenities at them. Is it harassment just to look at someone? Haven't you never taken a double take over someone you found attractive or commented to your friends about it?

I actually agree with you. I

I actually agree with you. I also feel like the comedy lies in how pathetic the guys look doing so. As the article mentioned, if they WERE "Darker, scruffier," etc., maybe it would seem creepier, but they're not. Any guy looking at this photo is not going to be encouraged to harass women, or to think doing so is funny. All they are going to want to do is go see this movie were three potentially pantless losers can't catch a girl's attention.

Disagree

I beg to differ: I do think a photo of three men flashing their genitals and leering at women is a depiction of street harassment. And it should seem creepy to us regardless of what the men look like, because this is a real problem that affects women every day.

Kelsey Wallace, Web Editor

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They're not flashing though.

They're not flashing though. Flashing implies surprise, and hidden until the moment or flash happens.
These guys are sitting on a park bench with no cover whatsoever. There is no surprise, no targeting individuals...these guys are exposing themselves to the world, not just the women "walking by" when it happened. It's not happening "at" anyone...it's just happening.

I agree that street harassment is deplorable, and a harsh reality... but this is nothing like flashing.

Indecent exposure

Perhaps flashing was the wrong word to choose, since you're right that it implies an element of surprise. I think "exposing themselves" works better in this context, so let's go with that.

As far as their intentions go, I read this image (especially the knuckle-biting) as a depiction of men leering at women. Not everyone sees it that way, and that's fine—we can agree to disagree.

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I absolutely agree with you.

I absolutely agree with you. I don't think that the photo shows any disrespect to the woman who are walking by. If they were hiding their junk under trench coast, and yes targeting women to approach and harass, then there would be a clear problem. For all we know, they could have been sitting, no pants, on that bench while many men walked by and laughed as well, not just those women.

I think it's a funny, cheeky, appropriate spread for GQ.
Getting offended by this is just silly, don't be so tightly wound.

Agree to disagree

Hi MMG,

To the people who do not feel this image depicts street harassment, I said we could agree to disagree. Though I feel this photo portrays a male gaze (complete with men exposing their penises and women posed in what Goffman called a body cant to show submissiveness) the reading of images is subjective and we may not all come to the same conclusion.

Telling me that I'm "silly" and "tightly wound" however, is not OK. Further comments along those lines will be deleted.

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I agree, Kelsey

I saw the picture and automatically thought, ugh what a bunch of pigs. They are very obviously leering at the women and to say they aren't flashing is ridiculous. Why are they not flashing? Because it's "official" Pantsless Saturday? Pfft. I sure hope nobody decides to start "Beat Your Wife Tuesday" or "Shoot Your Husband Friday".
I wonder what people would say if it were a group of women leering at men lasciviously? Oh..that's right, they call that "Sex And The City".
Anyway, I agree with you, Kelsey. It's offensive. Period.

huh?

I don't know whether to assume you're joking. I guess I'll assume you're not and then just look stupid myself if you are. So to answer your question, the harassment is exposing themselves at those wimmin.

The odd gal out

I like it. I like it all.

Not only would I be stoked to be one of those girls walking down the street, but if the trend caught on and Joe-Schmoe dudes started walking around with their wieners hanging out, I'd be doubly stoked.

Here's the deal... magazine photos have been prompting women to show more and more since, I don't know... forever. I like the idea of turning the gaze onto male bodies. It's like in Harry Potter, how no one wants to say "Voldemort"
Dicks are totally Voldemorts.
The fact that we don't see them everyday on the street makes them more powerful. I don't like that power via omission or avoidance. Here's another thing - masculinity's sad, overplayed "mine's bigger" mentality wouldn't have the same place in gender performance today if men were exposed from the get go...like women are.

I mean, don't get me wrong...I'm not preaching a "let's all suffer equally" idea, I'm just saying - how did we get to a place where bodies are perps when they're just hanging out?
It's not like any of them are jangling it in the ladies' faces. They're just maxin' and relaxin', doin' what they do (only free-er).

Anyway, I for one refused to be "harassed" by other people's nakedness. Bodies are bodies are bodies-- I ain't offended.

The ball, no pun intended, remains in their court

But the gaze ISN'T turned on the men--they instantly reclaim it in that first photo. There is nothing subversive in the photoset when it opens like that. Sure, their dingalings are hanging out, but THEY are still getting the last leer.

Couldn't we say the the

Couldn't we say the the viewer is getting the last leer? And whether that viewer is male or female, I'd have to say the primary leerees are the men and their dingalings and NOT the women. Sure they're hot but they're clearly to the side and positioned peripherally to the photograph. Isn't it a bit disempowering to persistently position males and males only with the "last leer"?

Furthermore

Before "the gazer is being gazed upon" comes up, let me remind you of the intended audience here--other men. Other men who look at these hip, cool guys, airing out their junk, noshing on some Man Food, enjoying some firm skinny white lady ass sashaying down the street, bro-ing down in quite possibly the homosocial-iest, bro-iest of ways--and they may be chuckling, but they're laughing with these guys. And they're leering with these guys, too. Because the dudes may be funny, but the chicks are still hot*. And we could get all Camille Paglia with SEXY IS POWERFUL, but come on. The audience isn't women. The gaze ain't flipping.

*And what's up with that, anyway? Why is male nudity Funny, and female nudity is Sexy? (unless the female in question is culturally de-sexualized by virtue of age, weight, ability, etc). Deconstruct!

"Why is male nudity Funny, and female nudity is Sexy?"

For me personally, the answer to this question is that penises look kind of ridiculous. You gotta admit it. If I saw some guy just walking down the street with his penis flopping around, I'd laugh. I also just think that, while I am a straight women, that women are on the whole more sexy and asthetically pleasing than men. Their bodies are more beautiful. The only time I think a penis is sexy is when it's a boyfriend, it's hard and I'm about to get laid.

Also, I have a question about Pantless day - is it only for men? If not, is it harrassment for people of either gender to walk around pantsless on that day?

Here here. I agree with

Here here. I agree with ShadyShal. I think it's a shame that it sometimes becomes so easy for us to turn on the feminist volume a little too high and miss empowering moments as such. The dudes are not approaching the women in any assertive way - they are not even opening their mouths (to address the women).

I found it refreshing to see, for once, women clothed and in a position of power, basically rejecting the dudes. The fact that they're not even turning around to stare at the men indicates that this picture is based on a meta-reality that assumes that the penises are invisible.

But they're not. They're there in plain sight in the photograph that is clearly parodying both fashion ads as well as at least referencing hustler centerfolds that expose women. I agree with ShadyShal that this in some ways mitigates the power of the "invisible" penis. I applaud these men for exposing themselves as such (Don't get me wrong; I don't think I'd often say this in any other context.).

I bet many will find my statement that the women are presented in a position of power, but I think it's an often neglected feature of sexual politics to acknowledge that half the reason misogynists are so passionate is because of this aspect of sexual politics. Men feel justified in ferociously attacking women because from their eyes, they are the victims.

And actually, sometimes they are. But for the most part, I have to say, the biggest victims are the ones who choose to be.

Thus my point. Let's not do the same thing and locate every possible chance to talk about the victimization. I acknowledge that the politics in the photograph CAN be problematic if read as such. However, I think it's just as important to use a different framework of analysis and see how it might yield more empowerment and agency as opposed to the other.

our idea of what a

our idea of what a "dangerous" guy looks like (older, scruffier, darker, uglier) Seriously? White handsome guys are inherently less dangerous? What planet are you from...(if anything they're more dangerous because they more easily get away with harassment)

I agree with the gist of the article, the first pic made a faux paux by making light of flashing & other forms of harassment, but way to throw in some "dark men are scary!" for good measure. Fail upon fail.

I'm from Earth, actually.

Thngwhtsqks,

I think you may have misunderstood me here. I was referring to the fact that a stereotype of what a "dangerous" man looks like does exist in this culture and that perhaps the reason why this photo shoot was deemed acceptable by the editors at GQ was because the men pictured here do not fit that stereotype. If they had fit the stereotype, I posited that this spread probably wouldn't have been published because it would have made people uncomfortable—the same way we should feel when seeing this image of young, white, handsome men harassing women.

I hope that clears things up a bit.

Kelsey Wallace, Web Editor

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Wait, what?

I still don't get how this is harassment.

Schwartzman is literally biting his hand
Cera's mouth is completely closed
and the last one is making a pained face of reservation.

None of them appear to be cat-calling or shouting. None of them are making gestures, or behaving lewdly...they're not even approaching the women, they're all just kinda sitting there, looking at the passersby .

Is that all it takes to be harassing, because if so, we've outlawed people watching.
Is it the gaze? I'm familiar with some of the academia about "The Gaze" but I think this photo flips that on it's head. Sure, they're staring at women, but they are exposed more and are thus the gazers and gazed-upon.

I mean, I'm not trying to rock the boat or anything, but I just don't see it unless it's the act of people watching that is harassment
or if male bodies are criminal in and of themselves

neither of which I'd like to believe.

it's not

It's not harassment. The men have obviously displayed themselves for the women walking by and the women are laughing and moving on with their day because they aren't scared or threatened by the exposure.
But this image doesn't exist in a vacuum. Street harassment is a problem; men exposing themselves to humiliate women is a problem and the fact that GQ thinks they can escape that sleazy/dangerous interpretation by using attractive young men with reputations for a particular style of shy-guy comedy is also a problem. A man exposing himself to a females in public has a bad cultural connotation and that's not something two smiling models can erase.

Right on, Scrumby.

I agree. It's supposed to be poking fun at the men. It would have been clearer and more empowering, I think, if the models had any kind of discernible mocking expression on their faces, but they're just sort of vapid.

It's the idea, not the reality

It's not so much that "older, scruffier, darker, etc." guys are more dangerous, it's that they are portrayed that way, while younger, lighter, etc. guys are more often portrayed as the heroes and/or desired romantic leads. And those messages get internalized by people, and...you get the gist.

selling way more pants

OK, on a totally different note, I would have to say that as far as fashion "spreads" (pun intended?) go, this one just might be successful...on so many levels, I want to buy pants. At least three pairs.

But I would be very surprised if that was the actual intended response (if it was, kudos).

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Seriously? no mention of context here?

So I got that from the way you introduced the pictures that we're supposed to recognize, from this photoshoot, that these are the stars of Scott Pilgrim (although the fact that the female characters, who arguably are wayyy more involved in the plot than Shwartzman "Gideon" or certainly Evans "Stephen", are not involved is questionable). However, in the original shoot was there any indication that they were alluding to their characters? If that were the case then I think I know where the idea for the first picture came from... (*SPOILERS*) The reason for Chris Evans expression could be a reference to the fact that, despite the fact that he is dating a girl on and off for the majority of the series, his character is revealed in the last book to be gay and in a relationship with a man. I recently read an advanced review of the movie which said that this subplot was DROPPED however for the movie and his boyfriend isn't even a character at all, which makes this photo just all the more confusing. Still, is it possible that, what with Scott (Cera) being portrayed as an empty-headed doofus who resorts to video-game "heroics" to resort relationship problems and Gideon (Shwartzman) turning out to be a mega-super-crazy-creep who (*SPOILERS AGAIN*) kidnaps women so that they can one day fall in love with him, maybe the photo was meant for the fans who would get the subtext better? If so, they could have included SOME amount of context. Wah, just soooo confused.

Context could have helped...

but the photo shoot was solely images except for a three-sentence intro about Pantless Saturdays.

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Taking issue with the bigger issue

A big fan of Bill Murray, I picked up the issue for his funniness and the interview did not dissapoint...interesting and funny stuff. I even found some of the M. Cera and gang photos pretty darn funny...but what wasn't so funny to me was that the "134th Annual Big Comedy" issue featured only ONE woman. And said woman is not only NOT considered a commedian, but all 3 photos included some variation of her squatting, pouting, wearing band-aide sized clothes...apparently, Emma Stone has a very funny arse. With so many funny, talented women out there working, writing and starring in their own stuff..this really p$#ed me off. Flip to the back and there are 5 or 6 more women under the caption that there's proof funny CAN be pretty....I can't wait for the day being funny as a woman is enough to get you appreciated.

ick

Call me overly sensitive, but I would personally be offended by the first picture even if they were all wearing pants. To me, the question is not so much the exposure of the penii (that's the plural for "penis" that I just made up), but the fact that ogling women is portrayed as some kind of gentlemanly pastime. Now I'm not saying that it's wrong to check people out in public if one finds them attractive. I do it all the time (I do not, however, catcall or ogle in an obvious way because I have a modicum of respect for my fellow humans). The image, however, reasserts the idea that women exist solely to be ogled by men, and have no "gaze" of their own. If you don't believe me, examine the gaze of the three men (directed at the women, although Michael Cera kind of just looks confused) to the gazes of the women (one has her eyes downcast, which is typically a submissive expression, and one is looking upwards, away from the camera), and you can see the immediate breakdown into active-man/passive-woman roles.

Personally, I think a funnier image would be if the guys were shown actually interacting with the women, with everyone behaving as if this pantlessness were totally normal. You know, they're all out enjoying cotton candy at the fair--without pants! Hell, the women should be pantless too, although thinking of a vagina as funny the same way we think of a penis as funny would take a massive overhaul of collective thought.

Also, on a totally unrelated note, am I the only one who thinks the quality of these pictures is effing terrible? I understand you can't be swingin' your junk around in public, and that therefore some photo manipulation is required, but they couldn't have made it look a little less like a cut-and-paste job? Jeez.

Good thinking!

Owl, I like your reimagination of this image to include the men and women interacting with each other—the photo would be much funnier if it took place at the fair with cotton candy!

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I absolutely agree that the

I absolutely agree that the scenario in this picture is one depicting street harassment. Did anyone feel that the female on the left has been photoshopped within an inch of her life? A poster on another forum noted that if her legs were really that skinny, she probably could not walk.