Vanity Fair Sexism

Responding to a minor flap over Vanity Fair‘s decision to photograph Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson nude but Tom Ford (a last-minute fill-in for Rachel McAdams, who balked at being nude) fully clothed, US Weekly editor Janice Min observes,

Photo: Men just aren’t viewed as sex objects in the same way that women are,” Min says. “Women don’t think about men being naked in the same way that men think about women.” In fact, she says, at her magazine’s offices, when photos come in of a male star with no shirt on, “We say, ‘Gross! Put some clothes on!'”

Andrew Sullivan points out that,

Of course, gay media outlets have plenty of male nudes, but that’s because they’re read by … men. Men and women are biologically wired to be attracted to different aspects of the people they lust after. Women, for some reason still opaque to me, are sexually attracted to a man’s soul, his character, his style. Men want to see titties, as Dave Chapelle would say. Gay men and straight men are no different in this. And so the single standard VF is using is a simple one: let’s sell as many magazines as we can. I fail to see how they can be criticized for doing their job.

Of course, gay men don’t actually want to see titties. But his point is well taken.

Update: The full cover, which folds out to reveal more, albeit extremely artsy, nudity on part of Knightley and, especially, Johansson but, thankfully, not Ford, is below the fold. It’s reasonably safe for work.

Photo Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansen nude Vanity Fair cover

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    Let’s not callously disregard the lesbian women who are just as happy as the straight men out there to see Scarlett’s bottom on display.