Notes on the appreciative gaze, young men’s body anxiety, and why strong public institutions enable private liberation

The Frisky reposts my piece on how good men gaze, giving it the more accurate title of How to Check Out Women.

And my Thursday post at Healthy is the New Skinny reminds readers that guys also suffer from our culture of body perfectionism — and are often less well-equipped than women to talk about it. Excerpt:

What we need to remember is that no one is immune from self-loathing. Eating disorders and poor self-esteem are found in men and women alike, and if we haven’t hit parity yet, the evidence is that within a generation, we might. Too many of our little brothers as well as our little sisters are struggling to live up to an impossible ideal, doing harm to their bodies and their spirits as they pursue the unrealistic and the unhealthy.

We need to encourage more men to be open about their own body image issues. We also need to be ready to hear what they have to say without insisting that women invariably “have it worse.” Building a world that prioritizes good health and happiness will take all of us working together in a team, spreading the message that “healthy is the new skinny”. And just maybe, we can add “healthy is the new ripped.”

And in honor of the Tea Party nuttery of Rep. Allen West, I wanted to link to an old post of mine: The road out of serfdom: gender roles and social democracy. Excerpt:

Strong public institutions are not “traps of dependency”; rather, they are agents of liberation. Excellent day care, good hospitals, inexpensive education and a strong social safety net give the traditionally underprivileged, men and women alike, the chance to do something vitally important: form and maintain relationships based on desire and mutual respect rather than on need and vulnerability.

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