Pejic distances himself from queries about gender and sexual identity. When speaking to New York, he referred to his androgynous beauty as "the situation," (which is a "situation" far preferable to Mike Sorrentino's six pack, yes?) and clearly is more focused on climbing the fashion ranks than challenging gender norms:
I know people want me to sort of defend myself, to sit here and be like, ‘I’m a boy, but I wear makeup sometimes.’ But, you know, to me, it doesn’t really matter. I don’t really have that sort of strong gender identity—I identify as what I am. The fact that people are using it for creative or marketing purposes, it’s just kind of like having a skill and using it to earn money.
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Timesreported on the hottest new marketing demographic for the personal care industry: Latino men. Considering that Hispanics are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, it isn't surprising that brands and advertisers had already begun courting Latina women's purchasing preferences. The men's habits, however, seemed like more of a lesson in social studies than in product development.
In the U.S., food marketing and consumption is highly gendered. In the funny pages, Cathy gobbles down chocolate and Dagwood constructs towering, meaty sandwiches. On the Internet, the Women Laughing Alone With Salad is an exemplary (and hilarious) meme. Guy vegans seemed like such a quaint anomaly that a Boston Globe reporter tried to make "hegan" happen in 2010. I say "in the U.S." because the nation apparently has an extreme case of food gendering, thanks to our robust and omnipresent advertising industry and a steady, though not necessarily high-quality or healthy, food supply. In a Salon article exploring gendered representations and connotations of food, Riddhi Shah writes "In the U.S., instead, it was an extension of one’s identity, a phenomenon made possible by the United States’ unique history of unrivaled luxury." Put another way: you are what you eat.
Designer Tom Ford once told Details magazine: "There’s one indulgence every man should try in his lifetime. If you’re straight, sleep with a man at least once, and if you’re gay, don’t go through life without sleeping with a woman."
Gucci's sartorial savant could—pardon the following phrase—"get away with" that—pardon the following adjective—"edgy" quote since he's an out gay man. Having already wandered away from the heteronormative fold, of course it's fine for him to explore both male and female physical contact. A straight guy saying that? Whoa, buddy, you've gotta be gay. Because male bisexuality doesn't exist, right? Oh, wait.
Yashar Ali is the founder of The Current Conscience, which examines "politics and the personal, culture and relationship" from a progressive, feminist viewpoint. Particularly after reading his post The Key to Success: Be a Man, I was curious to mine his thoughts on how beauty and body image standards apply to men today and whether modern "masculinity" has truly reached a crisis point in Western culture.
The first time I really paused to consider the naked male body happened circa age 9 while watching Blossom on the floor of my parents' bedroom, where I ironically snuck in all of my parent-disapproved TV programming. I can’t remember what plot twist provoked it, but at some point, Six explains to Blossom that naked men look like "half-decorated Christmas trees." Conjuring up an image of a Ken doll in a Santa hat, my sheltered developing brain didn’t get the humor. But I did get the feeling that whatever Six really meant about the unclothed penis, it wasn't exactly complimentary. Boys naked, who wants to see that?
As feminists, I think it’s easy to forget that for all of the misrepresentations and misinformation delivered to us about what vulvas and vaginas "should" look like and how they "should" respond to sexual contact, equally tall tales about penile look and length abound.
If Hollywood gravitates toward a "sexy" disability for male characters, it would have to be blindness. I was recently mulling over how the big screen portrays men of color and with disabilities and realized that blind male characters in movies often aren’t dehumanized or marginalized. They’re downright hot.
I wish that The Hangover had hit theaters in 2007 to get that roundtable’s perspective on Mr. Chow, because my immediate reaction to the role in the context of Asian American stereotyping was that it represented more of the same. Don’t get me wrong: Ken Jeong is a hilarious scene-stealer. And I get the fact that the comedy intentionally flaunted stereotypes to elevate the oh-no-they-didn’t factor, but I still give Mr. Chow a meh.