Cursing, sex, nudity, and an admirable tendency to support some of television's more interesting creations are some of the things that make premium channels so great. While we all love our favorite pithy sitcoms, the raw (if not always realistic) nature of HBO and other premium programming is not only refreshing, but a reminder that cinematic art can happen on the small screen, too. Girls would hardly have been the same without Lena Dunham's frequent nudity and its subsequent statement on the representation of female bodies in media, and Carrie Mathis' psychotic breaks would have been pretty lame without her emphatic exclamations of "fuck." But, gushing aside, what about the downside of nudity? No, we're not worried about young minds being poisoned by a couple of boobs and butts. We're thinking more along the lines of one of the industry's more dramatic double standards.
You can barely tune into any HBO show without seeing a gratuitous amount of T&A. It's usually done with some level of taste, while still satisfying the soft-core porn needs of the nation. But when was the last time you saw anything more than a dude's butt — probably standing in front of a fully nude woman? The truth is, HBO in particular very rarely plays an equal game when it comes to nakedness for both genders. This CollegeHumor video is a pretty accurate statement of our feelings on the subject:
While it's obviously funny to talk about dongs (haha LOL, guys), we do think this is indicative of a larger problem. The fact is that when you make yourself known, as a media provider, for explicit nudity, but then fail to extend that nudity to males, you're reinforcing a number of not-so-great and all-too-common messages. For one, there's the idea that, as a woman, showing your naked body to a large audience is not a big deal, that it's par for the course, and that any actress should expect it and is therefore required to consent to it. Then we have the unfortunate assumption that breasts and vaginas and female bums are the default symbol of sexuality, rather than a penis or a nicely chiseled set of washboard abs — which makes it a lot harder to avoid being sexualized against your will when you have any of those things on your person at all times.
The truth is, this is entertainment. There will be nudity because, among other things, that's what keeps people watching. And a certain amount of objectification is part of that, and it doesn't have to be a terrible thing. But there's no reason we can't be equal opportunity about it. Of course, some people might argue that the reason they mostly show female bodies is because they are just so much more beautiful. To which we can only respond: Um, hello, have you seen Khal Drogo? Or any of these guys, for that matter?