Kristen Iversen: Where Are All the Penises?: Why the Lack of Male Nudity on Game of Thrones Is a Problem
nudity on the show: one involved a would-be assassin who was punished for his attempted crime by being tied naked to a horse and forced to walk himself to death, the other was a fleeting glimpse of Theon Greyjoy mid-coitus, and finally, we caught an eyeful of Hodor’s, um, not-so-little Hodor in a nude scene that served more as a kind of comic relief than anything else. All of which is to say that despite the fact that Game of Thrones is one of the more sexually explicit shows on television, one which has never shied away from portraying naked women in a variety of circumstances (some sexualized, and some not), men on this show are very rarely seen naked, and when they are it is not usually in a sexualized manner. (The one exception being Theon Greyjoy, but—and no offense to Alfie Allen—if anything about Theon Greyjoy gets you excited, well, you might want to talk to someone about that.)
And it’s not like there hasn’t been opportunity to show men naked in a sexual setting—after all, not all of the sex scenes on GoT are between women (although… a lot are!), and some are even between two men. But what invariably happens in these sex scenes is a seeming rediscovery of propriety, and the show that doesn’t hesitate to show a nude woman giving birth to a smoke demon (spoiler!) suddenly won’t reveal anything more of a nude man than his ass, or, more likely, his bare chest. Never mind that there are huge visual narrative opportunities being missed here (who among us didn’t want to see where Melisandre put those leeches in order to extract every last drop of royal blood from Gendry?), but there is also something that rings patently false and prudish about being coy with showing penises. All of the reasons frequently given for not showing male full-frontal sound like so much bullshit. I mean, claiming that women don’t visually objectify the male body in the same way that men do for the female is ridiculous on many levels, but also ignores the fact that it isn’t only women who might want to be looking at a naked man, in the same way that it isn’t only men who want to look at naked women. And for those people who try to argue that a penis is not as aesthetically pleasing as breasts, well, I will not wax rhapsodic about the beauty of the male body here and now, but I will direct you to the extremely NSFW tumblr of Adult Magazine and invite you to scroll through and think a little bit about beauty and sex and appeal and, uh, Helen Mirren in the bath.