Love me, love my testicles

Have you seen Keira Knightley in The Duchess? What about Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood? Do you agree that one is beautiful and the other pretty? I’m not talking about the beauty that emanates from a person’s soul.

No, I’m being strictly superficial. Day-Lewis has a beautiful face and a wonderful figure. Knightley has a pretty face and a size-below-zero figure. You can’t even call it boyish. It’s boyish-ish.

Must I, at this point, declare my sexuality, so we all know where we are and exactly what I want to do to Daniel? There’s no need. If I mention the beauty of another man, it’s obvious — I must be gay. OK, I’m a husband and father, but when did that tell you anything? Why would I go to such lengths to prove I’m straight unless I were a gay man in denial? I must be gay because male beauty isn’t openly celebrated in our society by men, unless they are gay.

All I want is equality with women. When women write about female beauty, their sexuality is never in question. It’s open season for all women — gay, straight, old, young, gorgeous, ugly, bitter — to bang on about each other’s hair, lips, eyes, cheeks, neck, breasts, stomach, legs, thighs, feet, nails, clothes and make-up. They do it publicly and behind each other’s backs. They do it fearlessly.

From a recent edition of the London Times — THE London Times! — I learned that Catherine Zeta-Jones had misapplied her facial bronzer prior to her appearance at the United Nations global leadership awards. Ooh, bitch! But wait: the column was called not Ugliness Police, but Beauty Surgery. In other words, the column was caring. It was designed to heal the (involuntary) patient. On the subject of female beauty, women get away with caring murder.

That was the secret of makeover experts, who literally ”womanhandle” a victim’s bosom on national television, with the aim of bringing that bosom up to their level. Because they cared. They were doing it for that bosom’s own good. If only, they sighed, that bosom could find a better-fitting bra. Consider the male equivalent, and picture a macho presenter, lifting and separating another man’s testicles to convince him that, with more supportive underpants, they would hang more pleasingly and chafe less in an emergency stop.

Women are fearless. Men are silent. In my experience, men never talk about each other’s appearance, either behind each other’s backs or face to face and testicles to testicles. It’s as if the male body is invisible to other males whereas, in fact, most male bodies get more visible by the year, as the belly oozes over the belt like a suet pudding boiling over a saucepan rim.

I have yet to meet a man who looks me up and down for cosmetic, corporeal and fashion lapses — even though I live in the countryside, where dressing badly is de rigueur. (Have you ever met anyone who works for ”a leading Suffolk fashion house”?) My wife, on the other hand, constantly meets look-you-up-and-down women. Why, you might wonder, would I want parity with her?

The answer’s simple. With women there’s bitchiness, but there’s solidarity too. That is the kind of love-in a man like me craves. Let me walk among the middle-aged spreaders, in which a hundred blokes, all in black Levi’s and white T-shirts, pointlessly swap clothes and are told that their bellies look ”awesome”. Male obesity might shrink to nothing if men showed that degree of bodily kinship with their fellow men. Bring on the male supermodels, to whose condition we can all aspire: Kurt Moss, Claud Schiffer, Angus Deyn, Tel Macpherson, Norm E Campbell, Len Da-Evangelista.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going for a jog. —

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