“Little research has been conducted with regard to how women view male nudity. The purpose of this analysis was to present an historical case study of Viva, a 1970s women’s magazine geared toward the presentation of male nudity. Implicit in Viva’s editorial direction was the assumption that women’s sexuality is socially constructed and, thus, modifiable but also homologous to men’s sexuality. Using sexual scripting theory as a sensitizing concept, a content analysis of women’s letters to the editor was conducted. Letters justified inclusion of male nudity on the basis of principles of fairness and equality with men. In addition, letters tried to demarcate boundary conditions for what constituted acceptable male nudity in terms of the presence of erection, size, shape, and coloring of the penis, and whether inclusion of the penis was contextualized by other physical traits such as body musculature. Despite an early effort to modify cultural scripts on the basis of a constructivist world view, it was found that, ultimately, Viva advocated an essentialist viewpoint that reified existing conceptualizations of female sexuality as both static and uninterested in the visual representation of sexually related material. This study explored whether Viva’s essentialist final position may have reflected financial exigencies rather than ideologies.”
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