When you see a naked woman on stage, you take in a fantastically rich visual field.
When a man is naked onstage ... there's only one new piece of information.
Maybe that "rich visual field" is circumscribed by the cultural geography of censorship, but the difference between the sexes stands in any case. It stands like a proud, tall ... um.
Eyes up here, please.
Women deal with this all the time. Men ... only when they're trying to carry on a love scene in a play in front of 350 people, 8 nights a week, until May 9 -- get your tickets here!
Yes, I'm naked on stage for the third time in three years. Wish that meant I could say "by popular demand" but all three shows were in different corners of the country and all three shows were ... different.
In Sometimes a Great Notion, my character had to make a brief dash for his boxers after screwing his brother's wife. Three seconds, tops, in profile and in haste. Simple.
In Angels in America, I had to stand naked for an entire, decidedly un-sexy, scene while the nurse examines Prior's glands, lesions, and the two characters discuss the horrific side-effects of AIDS. Alienation effect, anyone? So more revealing because such a long scene, but I actually felt costumed by the fake lesions dappled on my body. Yes, all is vanity:
Um, and the actor. Eyes up here, please. Oh wait. As I've already written, I'm not much for eye contact either, so ... I am literally and figuratively and symbolically exposed, yes?
I suppose -- all things being equal (ahem) -- male nudity isn't a meta-theatrical perturbation. Except in one crucial respect: it doesn't take a master Method actor to achieve the appropriate response to hot naked girl. Funny language, that: You can't "achieve" an erection because ... dude, it's not an achievement. Pretty straightforward phenomenon every other day of the week. So (all puns intended) why is it so hard for a paying audience?
This is the real reason you're looking at the actor, not the character. It's like seeing the bated sword in a choreographed stage fight. [INSERT SWORD = PHALLUS PUN HERE] One pretends past the danger to avoid killing the actor playing Claudius. And no one will enjoy a stage fight if they sincerely believe the actor is in danger (see under Taymor, Julie). Similarly, a naked dude on stage is in danger ... perhaps more so if he "surrenders to the moment" and sports a boner a propos to the scene.
Another difference between naked lady and naked dude: Puritans and libertines both rail against the objectification of women, but both also take it for granted that men are routinely objectified. Perhaps further, that they should be objectified. Hell, we're eager to be objectified, to have the measure of our worth made so clear. [INSERT THESIS RE: OVER-COMPENSATION THROUGH MONEY, FAME, POWER, VOCABULARY HERE] When another Maureen Dowd asks "Are Men Necessary?" she thinks she's presenting a provocative trap for misogynists and father-worshipers everywhere. But for anyone who's had sex since age 24, this question prompts a sad laugh: of course we're not necessary. You're just now figuring that out? And necessary for what? More importantly: To what use might you put us? When we want to diminish a dude, we call him a "tool." So, I welcome the idea that we might not be so useful after all.
What if there's a place in you that's only really touched when you get hurt? And
nothing else can touch you in that place. But certain things pretend they can.
So your choices are to believe until you can't
anymore and really hurt someone,
and I've really really hurt some people, or
to keep believing, to make yourself
believe, and then get hurt
yourself, again, in that same place?
It's funny because it's penis.