Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why do men think it's ok to get their Nuts out in public?

I don't know much about the man who sat two seats along from me on the flight home from Gatwick last night, but he made me deeply uneasy. I know that he's a Rangers fan, and that he's on Twitter, although I don't know his user name, and that he doesn't see women as equals in society. How do I know the third fact? Because he spent a large part of the hour long flight reading, although that's probably the wrong word, the lads' magazine "Nuts." This is not the first time that's happened recently. On a train journey to London in June, the guy in front of me was reading an actual proper porn magazine which made me feel really icky indeed.

Since when did it become socially acceptable to publicly ogle photos of half naked seductively posed women? The equivalent would be me sitting there openly looking at pictures of men's naked backsides - or worse. But we never see that. The ogling is all very one-sided. It's only women's bodies which are public property. To all the men reading this, how would you like it if you were in that position? I was travelling with a male friend who was equally disgusted with the display.

If men (I could say people, but who are we trying to kid here?) want to look at this stuff, then there's very little I can do to stop them, but for heavens' sake, can they not do it in the privacy of their own homes?  When men ostentatiously read stuff like this in public, it's like they're making a huge statement that they see women as simply being there as window dressing, as decoration, as pleasure enhancers rather than their equals. They clearly feel that they have a right to own all the public space. I felt it was so rude of him and it made me feel uncomfortable. Now, I don't have the right to be protected from being offended, and nor am I asking for it, but I think I have every right to express my displeasure at such insensitive and crude behaviour. I am kicking myself today for not saying something to him at the time. This post will have to do. I'd love it if he read it and responded - I'd really like to know why he thought it was ok. On a plane, when you're all crammed in like sardines, what you look at, you share with the rest of your row whether they like it or not. Surely some sensitivity is required.

I must admit my friend and I had a discreet giggle and raised a few eyebrows between ourselves about the spectacle that was going on beside us.We mostly spent the flight chatting quietly.  We were both incredulous, though, when to add insult to injury, this man gave a deep sigh and put on his headphones as though we were disturbing him.

It's good that we have become more relaxed about some of the things we do in public - I mean, when my husband was a little boy in the 50s, it was frowned upon to eat in the street. However, I think that casual browsing of pornography lite is going too far. Do you agree?


Andrew said...

Agree Caron, Nuts is a dreadful magazine. I also have a real problem with the objectification of women. Many good points raised.

However, it's not only women's bodies that are public property, although i admit you have to look a bit harder. How would you feel if I sat next to you on a flight publicly reading a gay magazine in which there are pictures of "seductively posed" men obviously serving as little other than "pleasure enhancers"?

I have a problem with this too (as you might have seen from my recent blogpost in which I accuse gay publications of being equally as obsessed with image as mainstream media) but do you think it makes a difference whether those being objectified are man or women?

Anonymous said...

Hi Caron,

Clearly you're not a Cosmopolitan reader - Nuts and magazines like it are unsuccessful attempts at making womens magazines for men. Given a choice of one or the other as porn, I reckon many men would pick Cosmo (you get a good range of semi-clad men and women in's not sexist!).

Women have been "reading" light porn in public for years and if you try to ban it (because that's the natural liberal impulse?) it'll be women that you'll have to fight first and foremost. I have a recent collection of photos I took this summer of women reading "Fifty Shades Of Grey" on the tube - often a most unpleasant sight. I can assure you, this isn't a gender specific problem - I can post grim proof! :)

The narrative you've given here is autobiographical; you told us a lot more about yourself than you did anything about the world. This topic is clearly subjective - in my family nudity has never been much of a big deal. If people want to look at pictures of naked people, that doesn't seem particularly strange to my parents, me or my kid - even your idea of my body becoming public property doesn't really fill me with dread (I'll only be alive for a bit, those images could give pleasure for millennia!). I spent a while trying to contort my mind into the shape you offered up, but it simply won't fit.

I think whatever people read in public they should try and keep to themselves - other than that, everyone has their own brand of prescriptivism, all as mad as each others. Personally I'd like to see Apple users outlawed, because they use products that deeply violate human rights and I find that much more offensive than pictures of naked humans! Every time I see an iPhone user, I go through a similar set of emotions that you seem to of experienced via Nuts boy, and I think how many innocent lives have been savaged to make those devices.

What isn't subjective though is that Nuts is a terrible, terrible magazine. That's scientific fact, proved in labs by Prof. Nutt and Evan Harris on MDMA!


Neil Mackinnon said...


Whilst it is undoubtedly the case that social mores about what is and what is not acceptable public activity has changed dramatically over the last four decades and that this extends to eating, reading, spiting and even what you wear in public I cannot agree with your singling out of this particular magazine. Don't get me wrong I am not standing up for Nuts Magazine. I have never read Nuts Magazine but am pretty sure that I would not like it. However, I find it very hard to understand how you can say that this should not be read in public because it makes you uncomfortable when you are supportive of the so-called Naked Rambler who has repeatedly stuck two fingers up to the law of the land while he inists on doing something which many people find uncomfortable (not me personally but clearly lots of other people). If we start saying that the benchmark for what you can do in public is the comfort zone of most people we will very quickly find that the holding of hands in public by gays and lesbians becomes unacceptable. I think if other people's (lawful) behaviour which is not impinging on you directly makes you uncomfortable you should do one of two things, either grin and bare it or move out of the direct area where this is happening. Although when it coems to public transport we have less of a choice in these things but that is the cost we pay for cheap flights and discounted long distance train fairs.

Unknown said...

Andrew, the big difference between Attitude and Nuts is that men generally enjoy greater advantages in society than women. Their privilege means that their objectification is not as harmful.

Neil, I have no objection to anybody holding hands or snogging in public. There is a huge difference between that and publications which systematically display women as merely decorative. How would you feel if men made up less than a quarter of the Parliament, very few of the judges, business leaders, key influencers in society and everywhere you went you were bombarded with pictures of mens' naked backsides or even more intimate features? That's what it's like for women.


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